Friday, June 6, 2014

HarbourCats move into first place!

If you like offense, you’re going to love watching the Victoria HarbourCats this summer. The ‘Cats won their season opener on Friday night against the Kelowna Falcons by a score of 7-6, bringing their record in opening games to 2-0 in their short history. The win comes a day after Victoria won their only pre-season game by a score of 8-7.

We have said it before, but the strength of this team is clearly in the outfield. Nathan Lukes, Hunter Mercado-Hood and Wyler Smith all had outstanding games on Friday night. Lukes (pronounced “Lucas”) was the offensive star, going 4-for-5 with a double.  He posted an impressive .430 on-base percentage with Sacramento State this spring, and the centre fielder looks like an excellent fit as the team’s leadoff hitter. Right fielder Hunter Mercado-Hood had three hits on the night and doubled in a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Not to be outdone, left fielder Wyler Smith stole a pair of bases in the 8th and had a total of four swipes on the night. When the University of New Mexico’s Danny Collier arrives, the HarbourCats just might have the best outfield in the West Coast League.

"My name is Lukes, I live on the second floor..."
Tim Peabody got the Opening Day start for the HarbourCats in spite of the fact that he didn’t start a single game this past season for Loyola Marymount University. While it wasn’t the prettiest of outings, Peabody gave this offensive juggernaut a chance to win by giving up three runs in four innings of work. While bases on balls are usually Peabody’s Kryptonite, tonight it was the wild pitch that reared it’s ugly head on a number of occasions. There is a ton of potential in his arm, as witnessed by opponent’s .202 batting average against him in his 20 appearances with LMU in 2014. Now if he can only improve upon his control, he’ll really be a force.

Mikey Wright was the winning pitcher after throwing five gutsy innings of relief. While he was dominant in his first three innings on the hill, Wright gave up all three of his runs in a rocky eighth inning when he appeared to run out of gas. To the surprise of some, Wright emerged from the dugout to pitch the bottom of the ninth, but the scrappy freshman from San Jose State University nailed down the victory with a relatively uneventful ninth.

Bob Miller's HarbourCats appear to be much more aggressive on the base paths this summer. Not only did they steal eight bases on Thursday night against the PBL All-Stars, but they continually put pressure on the Kelowna defense with their speed in the season opener. Perhaps we are going to have to start calling them the Go-Go-Cats. No matter what we call them, they are going to be damn exciting.

  • Wyler Smith had four steals on Friday night, but he only had five steals in 52 games with the University of Utah this past season. He obviously will have the green light more often this summer than he did in the spring.
  • Quintin Torres-Costa will be the starting pitcher on Saturday. Torres-Costa had Tommy John surgery in May 2013, so this will only be his second start of 2014. He’ll likely be on a very strict pitch count.
  • Nanaimo’s Alex Rogers gets the start on Sunday. The 10-day player will be looking to make a good impression to improve his chances of sticking with the club once the rest of the full-season players have reported.
  • There seems to be a perception in some quarters that the HarbourCats have fewer Division II players on their roster this year. In fact they have more -- there are two Division II players (Dylan Stowell and Mark Marinch) this year, but Brandon Smith was the only Division II player on the team in 2013.

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