One busy inning helped the Victoria HarbourCats post their second win in as many nights over the host Bend Elks, delivering a 4-3 victory in front of an energetic crowd of 1,933 at historic Vince Genna Stadium.
The HarbourCats improve to 8-6 on the season, and clinched the series win over Bend, with the third game set for Wednesday night. They also climb within 1.5 games of Division leading Bellingham who were leading Cowlitz 6-4 at press time.
Right-hander Justin Solt (Lower Columbia College) was handed the ball for the HarbourCats, with lefty Roy Robles of Treasure Valley CC the starter for the Elks. Solt would end up the winning pitcher.
The HarbourCats put up four runs in the top of the fifth, starting the scoring. A deep drive to the warning track by Dustin Demeter (Hawaii), ruled an error on the centre fielder, and a mental error by first baseman Ty Holmstrom loaded the bases, eventually leading to a two-out double by Nick Plaia (Cal Baptist) between RBI singles by Caleb Ricketts (U San Diego) and Dustin Miller (Chico State).
Solt gave up two runs in the bottom of that inning, escaping more harm by knocking down a comebacker and starting a 1-6-3 double play. Solt went five, allowing five hits and two earned runs, with no walks and two strikeouts.
Owen Sharts (Nevada) walked one in his inning of relief, turning it over for Cade Brown (U San Diego) in the seventh, who gave up an opposite field home run to Ty Holmstrom on a 3-0 pitch, closing the gap to 4-3. Tyler Yoshihara (Pomona-Pitzer) picked up the save – his second in as many appearances – throwing a scoreless eighth then getting a flyout, fielding a bunt, and a ground out to short to complete it.
The game did feature a loss of sorts, though not in the standings — versatile star player Ethan Lopez (Hawaii), a returning player who has started games at third base and centre field, appeared to cramp up going down the line on a ground out in the fourth inning, and left the game, replaced by Miller. Lopez likely won’t play in the series finale on Wednesday, and will be evaluated when the team returns to Victoria on Thursday morning.
The HarbourCats close the series in Central Oregon with a Wednesday night game, and will feature the debut of RHP Mason Shaw of Yakima Valley College. Victoria is then home to play a pivotal series at Wilson’s Group Stadium at RAP starting Friday, with the division-leading Bellingham Bells due for Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. Former first and second year HarbourCats skipper Bob Miller returns to Victoria for the first time since he left following the 2014 season.