HarbourCats Prevail Against Pippins in Wild One

Shane McGuire had plenty to be pumped about Wednesday as he had three hits, a pair of RBIs and scored three times to lead the HarbourCats to a 13-10 win over the Yakima Valley Pippins (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

July 12, 2017, Victoria, BC – It was a busy night for the scorekeepers at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria on Wednesday night, as the Victoria HarbourCats and Yakima Valley Pippins combined for 23 runs and 26 hits in a back-and-forth West Coast League (WCL) affair that saw the HarbourCats eventually pull out a 13-10 victory.

Victoria LHP Claire Eccles made history on Wednesday night by becoming the first woman to start a West Coast League regular season game. She pitched two full innings, giving up four runs on six hits and left the game in the third with a 5-4 lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The game featured a bit of history at the start, as Victoria’s Claire Eccles became the first woman to start a regular season WCL game, giving up a pair of runs to the Pippins in the first, but then blanking them in the second and thanks to some early HarbourCats offence, holding a 5-2 lead after two.

She would work her way into the third inning, where the Pippins managed another pair of runs off of her, but she left the game with a 5-4 lead, handing the ball over to the usually efficient Blake Hannah.

Victoria’s Harry Shipley turns a third-inning double-play against the Pippins on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Hannah was anything but efficient on this night, giving up four runs – two of which came on a two-run, fourth inning home run from the Pippins Lucas Denney (his first of two on the night), as the Yakima squad, like they did Tuesday, overcame the early deficit to the ‘Cats to take an 8-5 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.

Victoria third baseman Bryce Bonner would be a little too late with the tag as Yakima’s Lucas Denney (51) slides into third. Denney would have a 4/4 night with a two homeruns for Yakima (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Unlike Tuesday however, the HarbourCats would have an answer for the Pippins, scoring three of their own in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score 8-8, thanks in part to a bases loaded walk to Harry Shipley and an RBI single from Hunter Vansau. The ‘Cats would add two more in the bottom of the fifth, as a double off the wall from Shane McGuire scored Po-Hao Huang and a Shipley single scored McGuire to put them up 10-8.

Shane McGuire would have a solid day for Victoria with three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs. He was also solid defensively behind the plate (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

After the teams traded runs in the sixth and the Pippins notched another in the seventh to cut the Victoria lead to 11-10, the HarbourCats added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth on a Shaps solo home-run and an RBI double from Garella, handing a 13-10 lead to closer Travis Kuhn for the ninth.

Kuhn was impressive and despite a Pippins batter reaching on a HarbourCats error, their fourth of the night, struck out the side to end the game and give the HarbourCats the win.

The ‘Cats Tucker Johnson turns a crucial sixth inning double-play against the Pippins on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

McGuire had quite the night to lead the HarbourCats offence, striking for three hits, including his double, two RBIs and scoring three times. Shaps also had a three-hit, three-run night with his home run and a double, while Shipley finished with two hits, two walks, three RBIs and a run scored. Garella also kept his four game hit streak intact, with a pair of hits.

Victoria baserunner Andrew Shaps would just sneak his hand on to home plate before being tagged by Yakima catcher Daniel Cope, scoring a key sixth inning run for the HarbourCats (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

For Yakima, Denney led the way with a four-for-four evening,  with two homers, four RBIs and four runs scored. Toro Otsuka, Dustin Yates and Nick Plaia also had two-hit evenings, with Otsuka and Yates chipping in two RBIs each in the losing effort.

Andrew Shaps had another strong evening for Victoria with three hits including a solo home run. He also pitched 2/3 inning of relief in the 13-10 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

On the mound, Noah Prewett (2-0) takes the win in relief, allowing one earned run on four hits and one walk, while striking out three in his three innings of relief. Indigo Diaz and Shaps then helped set things up for Kuhn, who earned his league leading seventh save of the season.

Victoria’s Noah Prewett is proving to be a valuable two-way player, earning his second win of the year in relief Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Pippins starter John Fuqua made it through three innings (5R, 4H, 3BB, 1K) before being replaced by Kyle Nicol, who gets tagged with the loss, giving up five runs on four hits in two innings of work. Yates mopped up with three innings of relief.

The win improves the HarbourCats second half record to 6-3 (20-16 overall) and they now jump into first place in the North, a full game ahead of Wenatchee (3-2) who fell 12-4 to Cowlitz Wednesday. The Pippins drop to 2-3 (15-17) and now sit two games back of Cowlitz in the South.

Victoria’s Travis Kuhn would earn his league leading seventh save of the season Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The deciding game in the three-game set goes on Thursday night with the HarbourCats sending Jack Owen (3-0) out to face the Pippins Taylor Dollard (3-0). Game time is 6:35 pm at Royal Athletic Park.

There were plenty of crooked numbers in what was a busy Royal Athletic Park scoreboard on Wednesday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Cat Scratches: Injuries continue to plague the HarbourCats, as third baseman / catcher Bryce Bonner had to leave Wednesday’s game after appearing to strain his arm on a tough throw from third to first. He is listed as day-to-day and will be evaluated further in the morning.

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