HarbourCats Drop Series Finale as Bend Avoids SweepBy Josh Kozelj July 12, 2018 11:19pm
Victoria shortstop Dustin Demeter makes a throw to first Thursday. Offensively Demeter would have two hits, a walk an RBI and a run scored to lead the HarbourCats offence (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
July 12, 2018 – The Victoria HarbourCats couldn’t close out the Bend Elks for the third straight time in Thursday’s series finale, as they dropped an 8-6 decision to the Elks in West Coast League action at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The ‘Cats had defeated the Elks in games one and two of the series, but the Elk’s responded to snap their five-game losing streak, sending the 1,622 fans in attendance home disappointed and spoiling the fun of Harvey the HarbourCat’s seventh birthday party.
Relief pitcher Gunnar Friend, starting in place of Tyler Hilton, had never pitched over two innings but was cruising through three frames before running into some trouble in the third.
After retiring six out of seven Elk batters to start the game, the righty out of Avila university would yield back-to-back singles to put two men in scoring position. Two batters later, Collin Runge would breakthrough for Bend with a two-out RBI single, giving the team from Central Oregon their first lead since game one of the series.
Friend would exit to the start the fourth, finishing with three strikeouts in three innings for his longest outing of the season.
On the opposing mound, another unlikely starter would get the call, as Sam Muskat started for Jake Holton, and the Montana State product stymied HarbourCat batters early.
Chris Diehl would add to the Elks lead in the top of the fourth, sending a two-run homer over the left field fence to increase the Bend lead to three.
Meanwhile, southpaw Muskat would continue to deal on the mound, retiring the first nine HarbourCats through the order with six strikeouts, and not yield a hit until a Dustin Demeter double in the fourth.
In that same inning, Hunter Vansau, one night after collecting two hits and three RBI in his 2018 debut, scored the first Victoria run of the game with a RBI sac-hit to inch the HarbourCats within two.
Muskat would exit after five stellar innings, racking up a season high nine strikeouts and holding the HarbourCats to only two hits, before probable pitcher Jake Holton came on in relief in the sixth.
After Bend plated one in the top half, Victoria would chase Holton in the home half of the sixth behind four hits and two runs to make it a 4-3 game.
That would be the closest Victoria would come to the Elks on the evening, as Bend put the game out of reach in the next inning.
Behind Collin Runge’s second RBI single of the game, and a pair of RBI doubles from Kaiser Weiss and Ty Holmstrom, Bend would take a deciding 8-3 lead.
The HarbourCats scored once in the seventh, and twice in the eighth, highlighted by a Ryan Ober two-run double, to claw within two runs. But Elks closer Sam Boone would retire the HarbourCats in order in the ninth to notch his third save of the season.
Victoria will now hit the road for a three-game weekend series against the Cowlitz Black Bears at David Story Field in Southern Washington State.
The Black Bears own a 3-3 record so far in the Second Half, after going 10-17 in the First Half South division standings. Ethan Fox is slated to go on the mound in the only season series between the two teams in the interleague set.
After that, Tyler Yoshihara, Garrett Goodall and Jeddediah Fagg will head to Port Angeles for the 2o18 West Coast League All-Star Game. THe HarborCats then return home on Wednesday, July 18 to face the Corvallis Knights. Game time for that match-up is 6:35 PM.