|Chris Lewis stretches for the out|
Now cue the heroics. The 'Cats were patient at the plate all night drawing a total of thirteen walks and did more of the same in the ninth. Sprinkle in a few clutch hits including an Alex Real infield single to go along with his homer earlier in the game and they sat at 11-10 with two out and Lavelle at the dish. The man of the moment promptly slammed a two run double to create the first of what I hope will be many magic moments at the RAP, and send what was left of the 1,015 fans home happy.
So heavy sigh Victoria, they came into town like a whirlwind, impressively taking five of a possible six games with their final dramatic win tonight over the Medford Rogues. Now they will leave town just as fast for their first road trip of the season, a six game bender where they will play three each against Kelowna and the Bellingham Bells. So take five sports fans, smoke 'em if you got 'em, the boys will be back next Friday.
The next challenge facing the HarbourCats after one day of "rest", is playing nine games on nine consecutive days. The six game roadie is followed by a brief three game homestand against the Bend Elks, who - after tonight's 8-2 win over the Cowlitz Black Bears - stand at a very respectable 5-3, good enough to be tied for second place in the competitive South division. This road trip should really help the team get to know each other as they will have no hometown distractions and just have each other for company on and off the field. I'm imagining mini-golfing or go-karts between games but whatever it is, it will help them get better acquainted. As well, this is the first "grind" of the season, playing nine days in a row, so there will most likely be some adversity which I see as a good thing, again, for team chemistry. Maybe a loss here or there, a bad break on the field or even fighting for the top bunk will advance the character building experience that Dennis Rogers and staff have already started. Other players will also potentially join the team on the road, which will strengthen the team further. I'm telling you fans, get in line early to see the product that jogs on to the field at RAP on Friday, June 21, I'm expecting it to be even better than the North division leaders that walked off the field tonight.
So after six games, what did I learn about the 'Cats, their opponents and WCL ball in general?
- We won't have Nick Pivetta as he will sign with the Washington Nationals - bad for us, excellent news for Nick
- Pitching is a bit up and down so the team will need some more consistency here - the HarbourCats' staff WHIP is an impressive 1.22 but that is still only second to last in the league and ERA has ballooned to 4.50, good for third last in the league with 53 strikeouts and only 17 walks (which is a nice spread!)
- Doing a bit of stats hunting, the South is a pretty good division. The South teams are all above the North teams in terms of ERA but it's a little more balanced on the more meaningful WHIP statistic. Still, beware the South!
- Hitting - which was helped by tonight's eleven hit affair - is pretty respectable and we sit at fourth in the league in the major offensive categories; OPS, average and slugging
- We will see errors in the WCL - both from our boys (none tonight though!) and from our opponents. I know the Victoria coaching staff is high on defense so I'm already looking for improvement when we see the boys again on the solstice, but I feel it will be a fact of life.
- The 'Cats will be a menace on the basepaths - lots of hit and runs, straight steals and overall aggressive base running will make for exciting baseball to watch.
- The norm seems to be about 1,000 fans per game but I am optimistic that this is a WEEKDAY stat and that once we have a series over the weekend, we'll come closer to 1,500 or even 2,000
- Harvey is a kid-friendly, prancing sort of mascot who did show a tiny bit more attitude tonight, but I think I'll have to wait a while for my own "Rocky"
- There is very little attitude on the field as I have not seen any player hot dog it or try and show anyone up. All they do is hustle and stay positive. For the first time tonight I saw a coach (from Medford) race out on the field to vehemently argue a call. That said, I though the angry little coach was right!
- Spinnakers beer is very good - even on cold nights. Pig's beef brisket also rocks my world.
- Victoria will only get better as more of the regular roster shuffles in after getting knocked out of the College World Series
- It is AWESOME having baseball back in town!!!