HarbourCats in thick of second-half playoff raceBy Chris July 25, 2022 11:45am
Above: Andre Duplantier II, this week’s West Coast League Pitcher of the Week, here pitching in a previous home game, was stellar Sunday in the ‘Cats 5-1 win over Edmonton (Photo: Christian J. Stewart).
Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
Things could come down to wire as last nine league games of season loom large
Victoria, BC – With a 5-1 win in Edmonton on Sunday, the Victoria HarbourCats kept themselves in the thick of the WCL North Division second-half playoff race, a race that could come down to the final weekend of the season on August 5-7 to determine what three teams will join Bellingham (the first-half division winners) in the first round of the playoffs.
There are two possible scenarios for the HarbourCats to qualify for the playoffs, both of which are in reach.
Scenario one is to win the second-half North Division title outright. As of today, Monday, the HarbourCats sit in a three-way tie for third place in the division with Edmonton and Kelowna, all of whom are a game back of second place Bellingham and two games back of first place Wenatchee. However all of those teams have only played 15 games in the second half, whereas the HarbourCats have played 19.
Needless to say, the HarbourCats could use some help this week and any losses by Bellingham (who play three against Nanaimo this week) and Wenatchee (who play Cowlitz), would be a good thing in this equation. The ‘Cats could also use some help from Port Angeles (who play Kelowna this week) and hope that Kamloops (who play Edmonton), can perhaps come away with two wins in that series.
Scenario two is to qualify for one of the two Wild Card spots available this year. For that to happen, Victoria will have to have one of the top two OVERALL records of the teams remaining that have not won either the first or second half titles.
As of today, the HarbourCats sit tied with Edmonton at fifth overall, nine games back of first place Bellingham. While that does not sound great, Bellingham who sits first, is basically out of the equation as the first half-champs and as the ‘Cats are only 2.5 games back of second place Wenatchee and Kamloops and 1.5 games back of Kelowna, the wild card option is still very much in play.
Should Wenatchee win the second division title, then they are also out of the equation, joining Bellingham as the two top seeds in the playoffs and the next two spots will come down to the next two teams with the best overall records, with Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna and Edmonton all within striking distance.
Should Bellingham win the second half again, the same thing applies, but now Wenatchee is back in the mix for best overall record.
Of course the HarbourCats can solve a good deal of these equations by simply continuing to win games. Of their nine remaining legue games, three (which could be viewed as must wins) come against last place Port Angeles this weekend, then they have three in Bellingham next week, and then close out the season at home against Edmonton on August 5-7, in what could be, depending on what happens between now and then, a huge playoff deciding series.
For the HarbourCats to win, it is going to come down to pitching and the HarbourCats can only hope to get the kind of starting pitching in all nine remaining games, like that provided by Andre Duplantier II in Sunday against Edmonton. Duplantier was masterful, pitching 7.2 innings, giving up one run on four hits and striking out five, in the HarbourCats 5-1 win.
It is the kind of pitching the University of Texas hurler has been providing since his debut against Kamloops on July 9th and it has earned him a 3.0 record in four starts and paltry 1.98 ERA and now, honours as this week’s West Coast League Pitcher of the Week.
On the offensive side, the top half of the Victoria line-up is as good as it gets with the likes of Grady Morgan, Joseph Redfield, Jesse Brown, Roberto Gonzalez, Colton Moore and Hudson Shupe all hitting over or close to the .300 mark. Add in some big and timely hits lately from the likes of Josh Walker, Russell Young and Tyler Pettit and the HarbourCats should have enough firepower to get them into the playoffs.
The HarbourCats will warm up for the stretch run with three games this week against the Northwest Honkers, including a Business Person Getaway Day Matinee at 1:05pm Thursday, and then fans should buckle up for what should be an exciting finish to the 2022 West Coast League Season.
NOTE: Should the HarbourCats qualify for the playoffs, if they are the second half-division winners, more than likely (everything would still need to be confirmed), they would host games two and three (if needed) of the opening round series on Wednesday and Thursday August 10th and 11th. If they are a Wild Card team, they would likely host game one of the series on Tuesday August 9th and then be on the road for the 10th and 11th.
Tickets for all remaining games, as always, are available through our one and only ticketing partner, Select Your Tickets, at http://harbourcats.com/tickets.