The Victoria HarbourCats blew a 3-0 lead but managed to hang on for a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Falcons at Elks Stadium in their West Coast League series rubber-match, behind some late-inning dramatics courtesy of Jeddediah Fagg.
The win brought the HarbourCats to back over .500 once again (5-4), and into sole possession of second place in the West Coast League North division.
Fagg may have been the hero of the night, but infielder Jack Smith got the ball rolling early on for the ‘Cats.
After going down in order in the top half of first, Fagg smacked a single off Falcons starter Stone Churby and was later brought home by an RBI single from Smith to draw first blood for the HarbourCats.
Churby, who was making his first start of the season for the home team, had a strong outing for Kelowna. The right-hander from Sacramento State held the HarbourCats to six hits, with only two walks, in seven strong innings.
However, a few costly mistakes increased the lead for the visiting ‘Cats, as later in the second, Caleb Ricketts scored Smith with an RBI single of his own doubling the Victoria lead to 2-0.
Garrett Goodall was making his first start for the HarbourCats since June 2 against the Wenatchee AppleSox, where he went five innings with six strikeouts to two walks in a 7-1 ‘Cat win, in the first series of the season.
Goddall and Churby traded scoreless innings until the fifth inning arrived, and both pitchers seemed to have trouble against line-ups that were coming up for their third time through the order.
In the top half, Smith collected his second RBI single of the night to up the lead to 3-0 for the visitors. But Kelowna responded in the home half with an RBI triple from Davis Todoichuck, along with a sacrifice fly from Matt Voelzke to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
After returning for the bottom of the sixth, Goodall managed to get two outs but walked and hit a batter to put two in scoring position for the Falcons. Manager Brian McRae had seen enough from his starter and decided to call for Nathan Walker out of the ‘pen, but he failed to record an out and walked a man with the bases loaded to tie the game at 3-3.
McRae then summoned righty Tyler Yoshihara, who got the HarbourCats out of the inning with no further damage and provided a steady hand throughout the rest of the game.
Yoshihara would go on to pitch 2 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball, as the Falcons failed to score any more runs off the HarbourCat bullpen.
With the score still deadlocked at three going to the top of the eighth, Fagg came up first to the plate and smacked his first home run of the season on the first pitch he saw, sending it over the left field fence. The solo shot, Victoria’s third of the series, provided the visitors with a 4-3 edge going into the final two innings.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, reliever Po-Jui Huang, then came into close the game out in the ninth. Huang, only recording a single walk with no hits in his one inning pitched, managed to preserve the HarbourCats win and second straight series victory.
The HarbourCats now travel home for a three-game weekend series against the Port Angeles Lefties starting Friday for Faith Night and Forces Friday and try to get two games over .500 for the first time this season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The Battle for the Strait of Juan de Fucan continues Saturday with a 6:35 pm start and then concludes with a Father’s Day matinee at 1:05 PM Sunday.
NOTE: With a forecast of warm, sunny weather for the weekend, all games in the weekend series with Port Angeles are selling fast, especially Sunday, so be sure to secure your seats now to avoid disappointment. Call the office Friday (9 am to 3 pm Friday and Saturday) or order on-line at harbourcats.ticketrocket.co