The Victoria HarbourCats opened their 2018 regular season Friday at Wilson’s Group Stadium in Royal Athletic Park with their first of a three-game home-stand against the visiting Wenatchee AppleSox. It was a close game, but the AppleSox took the win 2-1.
Managing partner Jim Swanson threw out all the stops as he and the rest of the HarbourCats crew brought in skydivers, nine landed, one for each position. Shortly after, Sheldon Mack threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Mack is a survivor of the 2017 mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas. Singing the national anthems – for the first time – was Ivan Doroschuk of the popular 1980’s band Men Without Hats.
Doroshcuk wore Montreal Expos hat and jersey – a team he idolized growing up in Montreal.
The AppleSox finished the 2017 season with the identical record as the HarbourCats (29-25). This year, the HarbourCats boast a healthy roster of returning veterans and international players from the US, Cuba, Taiwan and a few Canadians including pitcher Ethan Fox, who got in 3.2 innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs.
Asked about the atmosphere playing at home in front of roughly 3,000 fans he said, “It is great, my family is here tonight. It would have been nice to get the win in front of them. It was close and I helped hold us in there, but we just didn’t quite get it done, but it was a great atmosphere.”
Through three innings, with a slight sprinkle of rain in the air, the game was tied at zero. The HarbourCats threatened to score twice, with a runner left stranded on third during the second inning and Trey Bigford hitting a double to centre field. He was later called out while attempting to steal third.
The AppleSox went up 2-0 during the top of the fourth inning, with a man on base due to a walk, North Bend, WA infielder Mason Marenco hit a double to score catcher Corey Meyer. Marenco would score advancing on steals.
The HarbourCats again threatened, stranding two on walks during the bottom of the sixth. Taiwanese player Chang-Chih Yen put out with a drive to second to end the inning.
Asked about stranding so many players Coach Brian McRae said, “These guys haven’t played in a couple of weeks. It will come around, but tonight the bats weren’t working. It was a well-pitched game throughout.”
The HarbourCats would score in the eighth inning, Chang-Chi Yen with two men on base advanced Nate Pecota for an earned run with a single, to short centre field.
The teams meet again Saturday and Sunday at Wilson Group Stadium to complete the three-game set. Saturday is fireworks night.