Josh Kozelj

The Victoria HarbourCats (15-7) rode the right arm of Jack Hyde to their fifth consecutive win, and secured their lead atop the WCL North division with a 5-2 series-opening victory over the Kelowna Falcons Saturday night at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

The HarbourCats, however, were unable to further increase their lead atop the WCL North division, as Bellingham’s victory earlier in the night against the Portland Pickles kept the Bells just one game behind Victoria.

After going six strong innings in his first two starts of the season, Hyde flashed similar dominance tonight—falling just one inning shy of a quality start. Hyde finished the night with four strikeouts, allowed only one earned run, and scattered three hits over five.

The righty has allowed only two earned runs in 17 total innings pitched on the year, collecting 16 strikeouts in the process.

The La Mesa, CA native didn’t allow a hit until the third, after his high-powered HarbourCats offence already provided him with some run support.

Emilio Nogales started the home half of the second with a single off Falcons starter Blake Tritch, and Nick Plaia put two men on with a bloop single to right. One batter later, Tyson Hays loaded the bags with a walk, but the Kelowna starter got two quick outs and looked to end the inning unscathed.

But Parker Bramlett fired a two-out, two strike, single up the middle to give Victoria an early two run advantage.

Tritch retired Kyle Sherick in the next at-bat to end the frame, and his offence cut the lead in half—but not without some controversy.

Hyde walked Jake Fischer to give Kelowna their first base runner, and after Johnny Carr reached with a single, Tyler Grissom launched a two-out double to the left field wall that should have cleared the bases. However, after Fischer reached home, Carr rounded third and touched home plate, but was called out by the home plate umpire after not touching third base on his way home.

The HarbourCats would make Kelowna pay in the bottom half of the inning, as Nogales smacked his second single of the night to score a run and restore Victoria’s two run lead. Three batters later, Nate Pecota scored Griffin Paxton with a fielder’s choice to jump the HarbourCats ahead by a score of 4-1.

Kelowna cut the lead in half once again with a run in the seventh, but Victoria responded with a run of their own in the eighth. Reliever Conner Barison, who came into the game in the top half of the eighth, recorded the final six outs to seal Victoria’s three-run victory.

The two teams will continue their Canada Day weekend set tomorrow on fireworks night at 6:35, as Victoria will go for the sixth win in a row in the middle game of the series at Wilson’s Group Stadium. There are still a limited number of reserved seats available and plenty of general admission for Sunday night’s fireworks affair and they can be ordered on-line at https://harbourcats.ticketrocket.co or by calling the office between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm Sunday. The stadium box office and gates will open at 5:15 PM Sunday evening. Fans holding general admission seating are urged to get their early for best seating.

NOTE: Tickets are also available on the Strathcona Rooftop Third Base Party Deck for Sunday night’s game. They are $20 each and can be ordered over the phone at 778-265-0327 during office hours Sunday.