The Victoria HarbourCats, who last year ran roughshod through the league, breaking several team, league and city records for wins, started this year with a more modest record. The first half ended with a 15-13 record and a second-to-last placing in the North Division, three games back of the first-place Kelowna Rockets (17-10).
Last week, the HarbourCats marched into Kelowna to start the second half of the season and swept them and are now 5-1 during the second half portion of the season. They are beginning to look like last year's team again. They are 9-1 during their past 10 and sit in third place in the division for the season and are in first place for their second-half record.
They won again Saturday night over the Bend Elks and play them a third time Sunday, starting at 1:05 pm. Below is Saturday's game report.
Christian J. Stewart
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 will then has a day off before the Yakima Valley Pippins come to town for a three-game set beginning Tuesday.