Vansau Powers HarbourCats to Comeback Win Over Elks

HarbourCats outfielder Hunter Vansau watches his seventh inning home run head over the centre-field fence Saturday. Vansau would finish 5 for 5 with 6 RBIs to lead the Cats to an 11-5 win over Bend (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

July 8, 2017, Victoria, BC – The Victoria HarbourCats Hunter Vansau had a pretty good month Saturday. The Mississippi State outfielder had a night most players only dream of, going five-for-five, including a monster two-run home run to centre field, knocking in six runs and scoring three, to lead the HarbourCats to a come from behind 11-5 win over the Bend Elks in West Coast League action at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

After getting a 2-RBI single to begin HarbourCats scoring, Hunter Vansau would come in to score on this play in the fifth inning after a Tucker Johnson single (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Vansau, who has now hit safely in his last six games, going an incredible 13 for 21 (.619) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in that span, began his night quietly, with a pair of singles in the first and third innings, but then made some noise with a two-RBI single in the fifth that capped a three-run inning to give the ‘Cats a 3-2 lead.

Bend shortstop George Mendazona would make a nice running catch of this pop fly early in Saturday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Elks would score two in the top of the seventh thanks to a mammoth home run over the left field mesh by Colin Runge to get the lead back, 4-3, but in the bottom of the inning, Vansau’s two-run homer to dead centre – estimated at 420 feet – put Victoria back up 5-4.  DJ Porter then followed with a two-run opposite field home run to right and the ‘Cats had extended the lead to 7-4.

With umpire Steve Boutang in perfect position to make the call, Victoria second baseman Tucker Johnson (left) puts the tag on a sliding Charlie Maxwell who was trying to stretch out a double (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Vansau was not done however. In the bottom of the eighth, he came to the plate with the bases loaded and after a balk scored another run, delivered a two-RBI double to left to make the score 10-4. Tucker Johnson then capped the inning and the HarbourCats scoring, with an RBI-single, his third hit of the night and second RBI.

Victoria shortstop Harry Shipley made a nice running play on this short ground ball Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

On the mound, Adam McKillican got the start and was in a position to win, giving up two runs on six hits, while walking three and striking out six over six innings of work.  The Runge home run however, given up by reliever Indigo Diaz in the seventh, forced McKillican into a no decision and ironically gave Diaz the win, thanks to the HarbourCats outburst in the bottom of the inning.  Blake Hannah finished the final two innings, giving up a single Elks run on three hits.

Hunter Vansau watches his (estimated) 420 foot home run sail over the centrefield fence in the seventh inning Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Vansau’s performance overshadowed a nice night from Johnson who finished with three hits, including a double and two RBIs and that of Cole Weiss, who had a pair of hits including a double and a pair of runs scored.

Hunter Vansau (21) is congratulated by Jake Garella (28) after a two-run homer in the seventh inning Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

For the Elks, Runge’s homer capped a two-hit and three-RBI night, while Jack Pauley had three hits, including a double and two RBIs.  Colton Cosner also had a two hit evening in the losing effort.

Dylan Suppan started on the mound for Bend and went 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while striking out four.  Hunter Breault takes the loss in relief.

This happy fan gave two thumbs up for the HarbourCats performance on Saturday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Victoria now moves to 5-1 on the second half of the season (19-14 overall) and they sit in second in the North Division a game behind 2-0 Wenatchee. The Elks drop to 1-4 (13-19) and they sit in third place in the South.

The Elks and ‘Cats play the rubber match of their three game set in a matinee affair on Sunday, with a scheduled 1:05 pm first pitch.  Liam Steigerwald will make his first start for Victoria, while the Elks are slated to respond with James Acuna.

Victoria then has a day off before the Yakima Valley Pippins come to town for a three-game set beginning Tuesday.

Cat Scratches:  The usual amount of West Coast League mid-season attrition is beginning to impact the HarbourCats.  LHP AJ Block had to be shut down last week due to an arm injury and this week it was RHP Luke Boyd with a shoulder injury. It appears Taylor Prokopis will take Block’s spot in the starting rotation.  No word on a regular starter in Boyd’s spot.  Also leaving the team following last night’s game was outfielder Ethan Lopez who had to attend to family matters.

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