Just as Chaucer wrote the oft-repeated idiom in the 1300s, “all good things must come to an end”, it applies as much today as any time, and it was time that the HarbourCats had run out of. The second half of their season showed improvement especially in offence; they harboured hot bats and were hunting down a playoff position, however, the visiting Portland Pickles were not interested in being swept.
“I didn’t think we would be in this position 10 days ago,” said Head Coach Brian McRae. “We ran out of arms. If we were going to win tonight, it would be with offence and that didn’t happen for us.”
The HarbourCats hosted the Portland Pickles for Game 3 of their three-game home-stand to complete their West Coast League regular season on Wednesday night. They played to a healthy crowd of 3,076 at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
Riding on the game was Victoria’s chances of making the post-season. With a win, they are in and with a loss, it would depend on how the Kelowna Falcons finished their season. It was unfortunately not to be for the HarbourCats as they lost by the score of 10-3. Meanwhile, the Kelowna Falcons defeated the Wenatchee AppleSox 11-3.
Wednesday, the Pickles, who lost the first two games of the set, got off to a two-run first inning off three hits.
The HarbourCats would come right back with a couple of hits of their own and also took advantage of a Pickles’ error, where the first basemen bobbled a grounder allowing Nick Plaia to score. Plaia had earned the Most Valuable Player award earlier on the night.
He took 1st base after being hit by a pitch and would go on to score twice during the game, but went 0/2 at the plate.
Leading the way for the Pickles was Portland’s hometown player Gabe Skoro, who went 4/5 on the night earning two RBI’s and one run. Five other Pickles players hit at least twice, two of them hit three times, in the route.
As a team, they went 18 for 39 on the night as they lit up the HarbourCat’s pitching staff.
In turn, the Pickles put two pitchers on the mound that were throwing up to 92 and 93 miles per hour, respectively.
Ethan Fox started the game for the HarbourCats and took the loss. He threw for 3.0 innings and gave up 7 hits and an earned run average of 5.13. Michael Frias from Irvine California would get the win for the Pickles. He pitched 6.0 innings giving up 1 hit and had an ERA of 2.08.
The Pickles scored one in the second, three in the third and two more in the fourth innings to take an 8-3 lead. Victoria managed just one more run during the bottom of the third inning.
By the top of the ninth, the Pickles would connect for 18 hits, while the HarbourCats managed just four.
Hayden Jaco earned the Community Service Award for 2018, he said, “It’s an honour. Winning an award like this just goes to show that there are more important things. With the HarbourCats providing the award, they recognize that too. It’s easy to contribute and volunteer in a tight-knit community like Victoria. You want to get involved.”
Co-pitchers of the year were Garrett Goodall and Tyler Yoshihara.
“The tough part is some of these kids I won’t see again,” said McRae. “There are some good kids here. We built relationships. It’s hard. I like working with them.”
McRae is off on a cross-Canada flight to the Maritimes to teach at a camp, tonight, and then returns to take care of wrapping up his duties as Head Coach for 2018.
EXTRAS BASES: The final playoff spot goes to the team with the best overall record on the year, and after Tuesday’s win, Victoria sat in a tie for the second-best overall mark with Kelowna at 27-26. Should the HarbourCats defeated the Pickles on Wednesday night, and sweep the series, the HarbourCats would have won that playoff spot no matter what Kelowna did, as the HarbourCats own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Kelowna.
With the attendance 3,076, the organization eclipsed the season attendance record of 60,466 with a final total of 62,599, for Harbour league games in the regular schedule. They also had many more out for non-league games, surpassing 70,000 for the second year in a row.
Hunter Vansau of Mississippi State, who calls Crawford, Texas home had his number 21 retired for his career with the HarbourCats.
“It’s not every day that you get to look at home plate and see your number and name retired,” said Vansua. “It’s an honour as there have been some really great players to play with the HarbourCats. It’s really special to me. I’d like to thank Jim (Swanson) and Brad (Norris-Jones) and everyone with the HarbourCats for doing that for me. It is definitely something that I am going to hold close to me for the rest of my life.”
Post-game interview with Head Coach Brian McRae and Hunter Vansua, who had his number 21 retired during the final game of the season.