With the additions to the lineup available, the order had a complete shakeup. 2B Griffin Andrechuck led off, followed by Nathan Lukes, before Barnett and Clark. Hunter Mercado-Hood dropped to fifth in the order, followed by Alex Degoti and Devin Carter to round out the top 7. The eight spot was the DH, tonight filled by Jake Lesinski. Ted Boeke batted in the 9 spot.
Rain started to come down just as the anthems began, and continued at a light pace through to the eighth inning. Most of the 882 fans in attendance crammed into the covered area behind home plate, but some with umbrellas and Gortex braved the seated areas. I must say, as one of the wimps who opted for the dry seats, that the new plastic bucket seats are much more comfortable than the stiff-backed wood ones!
The big question on the night though, was how many times can you put two men on with one out before that comes back to haunt you. Tonight, the answer seemed to be three.
Victoria Starter Andrew Nelson actually pitched quite well, but seemed to be in trouble most of the night. He went six innings giving up three earned runs on six hits and three walks. Quintin Torres-Costa gave up a run in two innings of relief, and Tim Peabody pitched a scoreless ninth.
|Gabe Clark launches his first HR as a HarbourCat in the 6th|
It could have been much worse for the home team, if not for a couple of unconventional double plays to save runs. In the second, with runners on first and second, 1B Gabe Clark snagged a tough one-hopper and threw to second for the first out. Alex Degoti threw back to Nelson who missed the bag and the out at first, but was then alert enough to fire a strike to Barnett at home who made a diving tag to get Bend's Grant Newton who tried to slide around the catcher. Great play by all three players on the play. Another trouble spot in the third, but with 2 on and nobody out, Nelson struck out Bend lead-off man Nick Osuna, and 1 pitch later, Degoti snagged a hot liner going up the middle and stepped on second for the double play.
Another fabulous defensive play ended the top of the 9th inning, when Nathan Lukes in CF picked up a one-bounce line drive and threw an absolute bomb to Barnett at the plate to cut down Bend's potential 5th run. It was Barnett's third acrobatic out at home of the game. Lukes continues to display one of the best outfield arms ever seen at this level of ball. There were also no errors tonight, making it one of the best fielding performances of the year.
But as has been the case, the offence just wasn't there - apart from the new Barnett-Clark combo. In the first inning, Barnett put a single into left field before Clark just barely missed a home run to the wall in left to end the inning. In the sixth inning the duo paired up again. With Barnett on first after his second hit of the game, Clark launched another ball to left, this one well onto Pembroke for his first home run of the year.
The Cats could get no closer though, giving up a fourth run before getting one back to make it 4-3. The hopes of a last-inning rally were quickly removed when Bend closer Kevin Sheets sat the Cats down in order to end the game.
Baseball took a back seat during a scary moment in the stands in the eighth inning, after one spectator passed out and was attended to by several on-site medical staff before ambulance personnel arrived. The stands stayed quiet for the inning and a half before the fan was led out, with assistance, but under her own weight. We hope she is doing well.