Tyler Schindel follows through after taking a swing off an Ortega pitch earlier in defeat. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Team Cuba rebounded from an afternoon loss to the Port Angeles Lefties in game one of the Greater Victoria Sports Tourism International series to defeat the Victoria HarbourCats 10-2 at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

With the loss tonight Victoria falls to 0-2 all-time against Union de Reyes, after dropping a highly entertaining 8-4 contest last summer. The HarbourCats will look to settle the score on June 10 in a rematch with Union de Reyes in game three of the International Series at Wilson’s Group Stadium.

Meanwhile, in tonight’s exhibition game, Union de Reyes changed their narrative from earlier today. After falling behind early to the Lefties in the day game doubleheader, the Cubans pounced on HarbourCats starter Josh Gessner early in the top of the first.

Before Gessner could even record the games first out, Cuba put two men on base and drew first blood on a Yonni Matos single. Endry Soliz then scored one batter later off a Victoria wild pitch and the visiting Cubans from the province of Matanzas raced out to a 2-0 lead.

Endris Soliz and Randy Camaraza extended the Cuba lead immediately in the next inning with matching RBI singles, and Cuba found themselves up four early on.

On the mound, it was a former HarbourCat for Team Cuba that stymied the 2019 ‘Cats, as 2018 starter Alejandro Ortega Lopez diced up some of his former teammates with 6 2/3 solid innings pitched on the mound with five strikeouts.

2018 HarbourCat Alejandro Ortega suited up for his country tonight and had an effective start against the ‘Cats. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Cuba poured it on the sixth — effectively putting the game of reach — highlighted by a Alberto Bello two-run homer to left centre field.

The HarbourCats added a couple runs late, but couldn’t overcome the early deficit in the defeat.

On deck next for Cuba is a game up-Island in Duncan against the Nanaimo Pirates, Union de Reyes will then travel for multiple games against teams all throughout Vancouver Island next week before returning to Wilson’s Group Stadium on June 10.

Tonight’s exhibition game concluded Victoria’s preseason schedule, and the HarbourCats will travel to southern Washington State next week for a date with the Wenatchee AppleSox to ring in the 2019 West Coast League regular season, before returning to the Island next week for the home opener against the Corvallis Knights.

First pitch is slated for 6:35 Tuesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Field in Wenatchee.

Lefties take down Cuba in a historic game on Canadian soil

Story by Josh Kozelj

The Port Angeles Lefties and Union de Reyes from Matanzas Cuba made history on June 2 at Wilson’s Group Stadium, as the Lefties became the first American WCL team to play a team based in Cuba.

The Port Angeles Lefties hopped across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and became the first West Coast League team based in the U.S. to play a team from Cuba in a 13-5 exhibition victory over Union de Reyes from Matanzas at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

In the first of four games in the Greater Victoria Sport Commission International Series, both the players from Cuba and Port Angeles shook hands and posed for pictures in an eventful pregame ceremony.

After showing Victoria fans last year why they are widely considered one of the premier baseball nations in the world in a victory of the HarbourCats in July, Union de Reyes was eager to tackle a challenge from the Lefties.

However, CJ Shauwecker ensured the large contingent of Port Angeles fans in the crowd of 1,469 wouldn’t venture back home unhappy, as his three hits and two RBI’s helped lead the way for the Lefties.

Shauwecker got to work immediately in the top of the first off Cuban starting pitcher Essiel Fuentes, knocking in Ronnie Rust with a RBI single.

After the Lefties doubled their lead courtesy of a wild pitch in the third, Shauwecker notched his second RBI of the game with a towering double to the wall to give Port Angeles a 3-0 advantage.

On the mound, Lefties starter Tyler Tan was a force against the high-flying Cubans. The Skagit Valley Product native would rack up seven strikeouts, and scatter only two hits over five innings on the bump.

Known for their flair and theatrics on the diamond, though, the Cubans didn’t go down without a fight in their return to Vancouver Island—receiving raucous applause and cheers from the Victoria faithful with every hit or flashy play in the field.

Union de Reyes brought the Victoria fans to their feet in the bottom of the sixth, as Jeovany Estavez smacked a hot shot through the hole in short to make it a 3-2 game and energized the crowd of just over 1,400.

The Lefties Justin Fugitt wouldn’t be deterred by Cuba’s rally in the sixth deter them, sparking a Port Angeles explosion in the seventh. Damiano Palmegiani’s two run single extended the Lefties lead to four which put them ahead for good, but Port Angeles added in five more in the ninth to clinch the victory.

The International Series continues with Cuba playing the HarbourCats tonight at 6:35pm at Wilson’s Group Stadium, while Port Angeles will hop back across the strait and get ready for their season opener Tuesday in Portland.