Tuesday, June 18, 2013

'Cats drop opener in Bellingham

The cavalry arrived - well a lot of them anyway - but it did not seem to help on this night as the HarboutCats lost what looked to be a good ballgame, 3-1 to the Bellingham Bells. The Bellingham pitching staff strutted their stuff, keeping the Victoria bats quiet for most of the night. Bells starter Jason Hager gave up only three hits in five innings, with great support from Aaron Sandefur who pitched two scoreless innings while racking up another four K's.

'Cats starter Joe Navilhon struggled a bit early but then found his groove, closing out six innings of work and giving up seven hits, three runs and striking out five, for a decent outing. The net tonight though, was the sleepy HarbourBats. There were a few new faces in the lineup, including that "other" Schucknecht (2B John), and while they didn't make a huge impact tonight (although Will Ballowe did pitch two hitless innings in relief), look for things to get better and better as they find their legs and start to gel with the team. This season will be built in defined steps so like a good meal, let's let the new ingredients simmer a bit before we get too excited. This is an important series and a nice step up the ladder of competition to see where we really stand, and with two more games still to play, I see the 'Cats winning at least one of them.

I liken the Victoria team to a potentially strong comic book hero, say Iron Man, when his resources have been tapped out and he is running on auxiliary power, but is still somehow managing to keep the bad guys away. Or if you are a trekkie, shields are up, but only operating at 20% power. While Iron Man saves lives and the Enterprise defends against Klingons, the 'Cats chalk up wins, standing at a very respectable 7-3 and they have been running in this "scramble" mode since the season began; especially the pitching staff. Some nice deep inning runs by the starters, a couple of long relief stints, players playing admirably out of their preferred position and a host of successful ten-day signings have the 'Cats in a good position as power is returned in the form of the regular 'Cats showing up in Bellingham. While there are still a few more to arrive, this next stretch of games is where we see if the 'Cats are a true contender for the WCL playoffs or just an expansion franchise that had a good start.

This series with the Bells is a good early test as they are now even with the HC's for bragging rights in the North, while the next series brings the current leaders in the land of Dixie (the South...of the NorthWest anyway!) to town in the Bend Elks. This string of games will not define their season/fate or anything like that, but will still be a good indication of what is to come as full power is restored. Will they be the studs of the North or just a pretty good team fighting for a playoff berth? Will they take a bit of a dive, and need to regroup in making a charge leading up to the All Star break? Whatever the case, it will be fun watching the drama unfold, so tune in tomorrow...same 'Cat time, same 'Cat channel!
Holy bats man, we need a win!

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