Saturday, July 6, 2013

HarbourCats back in the win column

Austin Russell had the most important hit on Saturday
The HarbourCats snapped their four-game losing streak on Saturday night with a decisive 11-3 thumping of the Kelowna Falcons at Royal Athletic Park.

Although Victoria has fallen behind early in many games this season, the 'Cats reversed the trend by actually scoring a pair of runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. The key hit in the initial frame was an RBI double by Austin Russell with two outs and a 1-2 count that plated Brandon Smith with the first run of the game. The team has been getting plenty of men on base during their recent slump, but they have had difficulty getting hits when they really count. After that key blast by Russell, the entire HarbourCat team seemed much more relaxed than they had been during their mini-slump.

Robby Nesovic has been struggling at the plate of late, but he sure didn't struggle on the mound on Saturday. Nesovic pitched seven solid innings, giving up three earned runs on 9 hits while striking out eight and only walking one batter. His numbers were even better until very late in this outing, as Nesovic may have been left in a little too long and threw 106 pitches on the night. He picked up the win to even his record at 1-1 on the season.

Ryan Keller was solid in relief of Nesovic, giving up only two hits and a walk in two innings of scoreless ball. John Schuknecht slammed the first grand slam in HarbourCats history in the bottom of the eight to seal the victory.

The only area of concern for the team was their continued defensive miscues. Alex DeGoti, an offensive catalyst for the HarbourCats, made his team-leading eighth error of the summer. Dylan LaVelle, who came into the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, made his sixth error of the year as well. After making one of the nicest plays we have seen all year to retire Darren Kolk in the top of the ninth, LaVelle dropped a popup in foul territory for the second consecutive game. Let's hope that LaVelle's problem catching popups is a temporary thing and that he hasn't developed the yips like Steve Sax did attempting to throw to first base. Hopefully a few extra practice sessions catching fungoes will do the trick.

With a renewed sense of confidence for the HarbourCats, a depleted Kelowna bullpen and a wild hurler on the hill for the Falcons on Sunday, things are suddenly looking up for the Victoria squad. Bryan Conant (2-1, 2.70 ERA) gets the ball on Sunday afternoon for the 'Cats, so look for the hometown team to cruise to victory in the rubber match of the series.

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