Monday, June 23, 2014

Bend Elks series preview

After a pair of off days and a split in a couple of exhibition games against the Langley Blaze, the Victoria HarbourCats are set to take on the Bend Elks at Royal Athletic Park on Monday night in the first of a three-game set. The ‘Cats are currently on a four-game (regular season) losing streak, but they looked a bit better against a much more experienced Langley Sr. Blaze squad on Saturday and Sunday.

The Elks took two out of three games from the Bells this past weekend following an impressive Bellingham sweep over the HarbourCats last week, so we can’t take a Victoria series win for granted. The HarbourCats took two of three from the Elks in Bend on June 13th to 15th, so the upcoming series looks like a pretty competitive match-up that should produce some quality baseball.
Homer, the scariest mascot in the WCL

Tale of the Tape

Victoria: 5-7 (.417), 4th in West Division
Bend: 6-10 (.375), 3rd in South Division


Victoria: .222 ave. (12th in WCL), .303 SLG (11th), .322 OBP (11th)
Bend: .225 ave. (11th in WCL), .286 SLG (12th), .331 OBP (10th)


Victoria: 4.12 ERA (6th), WHIP 1.37 (5th)
Bend: 4.40 (8th), 1.38 WHIP (7th)


Victoria: .950 fielding percentage (7th)
Bend: .956 fielding percentage (6th)

Who to Watch - Victoria

Oregon State’s Gabe Clark and Pepperdine’s Aaron Barnett will likely see their first (regular season) action in a HarbourCats uniform and both will likely make an immediate impact on the team’s offense. Clark, a first baseman, should be a major run producer and fit in nicely in the heart of the order. Barnett is a line-drive hitter who should hit for a high average and finally give the team some offense from the catcher’s position (H-Cats catchers are a combined 1-for-37 at the plate this season).

Nanaimo’s Griffin Andreychuk (two-for-four with two walks) has looked solid both at the plate and in the field since joining the HarbourCats last week. The double-play combination of Alex DeGoti and Andreychuk has completely transformed the team's inner diamond defense.

Logan Lombana
Pitcher Alex Garcia dominated the Elks in his first start with Victoria, but can the recent high school graduate turn the trick twice in a row? Garcia only gave up two hits and four walks in seven innings on the hill in that Friday the 13th start, so it will be a tough act to follow.

Logan Lombana has an 0-1 record in his two starts so far, but there’s a reason why we at the blog feel that won-loss record for pitchers is one of the most useless stats in baseball. Lombana has a stellar 1.63 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his 11 innings on the mound, so we expect his luck to take a turn for the better very soon.

Preston Ryan has been solid out of the pen for the ‘Cats this summer. He has a sparkling 0.67 WHIP and a pair of saves in four appearances / six innings pitched.

Who to Watch - Bend

Victoria will likely get a break and avoid staff ace Patrick McGuff, who held the powerful Bellingham Bells to only one hit in six innings pitched in his start on Saturday. The HarbourCats probably won’t be so lucky with Austin Guzzon (2-1, 1.97 ERA), who may pitch in the series finale on Wednesday. Guzzon has struck out an astonishing 14.3 batters per nine innings so far this year.

Reliever Kevin Sheets has been nearly unhittable in his four appearances. Opponents are hitting .103 against him and he has an out-of-this-world 0.33 WHIP to go along with a 0.00 ERA in 9 innings pitched. Sheets has struck out a whopping 10 batters without walking anyone. Closer Louis Cohen has three saves and has struck out 11 batters in eight innings pitched; reliever Jesse Pratt has a 1.42 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 6 ⅓ innings pitched.

On the the offensive side, outfielder Jake Peeveyhouse, a junior from Arizona State, is hitting .348 in his first week with the Elks. First baseman Johnathan Brooks is hitting .327 with a homer and five RBI, while catcher Curtis Wildung is hitting .292 with a homer and four RBI.


Making short-term predictions is risky at the best of times. After Darth nailed the Cowlitz series, we completely missed the mark in the Bellingham series (Bubba, two minutes in the box for excessive optimism). As much as I'd like to make some generic prediction that avoids any future embarrassment, here goes nothing…

Given that we are likely to miss Bend’s staff ace (Patrick McGuff), I’m predicting that the Cats will take two out of three from Bend. Just don’t ask me to put any money on it...

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