Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Klamath Falls series preview

After six attempts this season, the Victoria HarbourCats finally defeated the Bellingham Bells. On Wednesday night the ‘Cats knocked off the Bells 5-3 to salvage a game in their three-game series in the City of Subdued Excitement. Wyler Smith knocked in pinch-runner Danny Collier with the winning run in the top of the ninth inning with a pinch-hit single. Hunter Mercado-Hood reached base in four of his five plate appearances and he knocked in a pair of runs to give him 32 runs batted in this season, only one fewer than league leader Kevin Kline of Corvallis.

Sean Watkins picked up the win with 2 ⅓ innings of yeoman’s work on the hill. Watkins threw a season-high 57 pitches (!!) to finish off the Bells. Victoria’s ace of the starting rotation, Alex Rogers, took a tough no-decision in the game in spite of pitching 6 ⅔ strong innings. Rogers gave up only one earned run on six hits and one walk.

It was a night to forget for Victoria third baseman Ted Boeke, however. Not only was he the lone starter who failed to reach base safely, but he also committed a pair of costly errors that allowed the Bells to tie the game in both the seventh and eighth innings.

Tater, Klamath Fall's mascot
Now let’s take off the rose-coloured glasses for a minute: The HarbourCats are, for all intents and purposes, out of the playoff race. Don’t even bother thinking about the wildcard spot -- there are too many good teams between us and the Bend Elks (and we don’t have any head-to-head games remaining to help make up the five-game deficit). But the weather will be warm and the beverages will still be cold in the dying days of the season, so coming out to the ol’ ballyard remains an excellent option for your entertainment dollar. Besides, watching Nathan Lukes gun out a runner from the base of the right-field wall is worth the price of admission alone.

The Klamath Falls Gems are on their way to Victoria for a three-game series that starts on Thursday night at the STD at RAP, and it will be the only series between the two teams this season. Here’s our look ahead to what you can expect to see this weekend.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria: 14-19 (.424), 3rd in West Division
Klamath Falls: 9-24 (.273), 4th in South Division


Victoria: .265 BA. (7th in WCL), .354 SLG (7th), .356 OBP (9th)
Klamath Falls: .262 BA (9th in WCL), .352 SLG (8th), .343 OBP (10th)


Victoria: 4.10 ERA (6th), WHIP 1.45 (8th)
Klamath Falls: 6.76 (12th), 1.87 WHIP (12th)

Who to Watch - Klamath Falls

Steven Packard
Photo by Eric Evans
First baseman Steven Packard (.478 BA, 0 HR, 12 RBI) didn't make his season debut until June 23rd, but he has at least one hit in each and every one of his 17 games played. Packard’s hit streak is the longest in the WCL so far this year, so the HarbourCats will have to pitch the junior from the University of Oregon very carefully this weekend.

Cleanup hitter Dennis Morton (3B/SS) has put up excellent offensive numbers (.392 BA, 3 HR, 14 RBI), but his defense has been shaky. He’ll be the only member of the Gems who will suit up in next week’s All-Star Game.

Klamath Falls’ pitching is the worst in the league, which is great news for HarbourCats hitters. Reliever Kody Kuhlman is the only pitcher on their staff (with more than one inning pitched) with an ERA under 4.00. 

Who to Watch - Victoria

Everyone. There are no shortage of interesting plot lines to monitor. Given the recent playing time controversy, can head coach Bob Miller find a way of getting at-bats for most/all of his position players? Can outfielder Danny Collier bust out of his summer-long slump? Will Kelly Norris-Jones get a start in front of the home-town fans? Given the constant bullpen struggles this season, which HarbourCats reliever (not named Sean Watkins) will step forward to help preserve a victory?


You can expect a pile of runs in this series -- if offense is your thing then you’ll be in seventh heaven. The Gems come into the series with only 9 wins on the season. However, Klamath Falls is a team that can’t be taken lightly, as shown by their three victories in six games against the pesky Medford Rogues (who took two of three from Victoria at RAP last week). It is also worth noting that Klamath Falls is in the strongest division in the league, so the Gems are better than their 9-24 record indicates. I’m going to be a homer and say that the 'Cats will take two of three from the Gems.

  • I’m not convinced that Bellingham is the class of the WCL, because they have benefited from an extremely easy schedule so far. In fact, the Bells have only played THREE games all season against teams with a record that is more than one game over .500. Bellingham still hasn't played Corvallis, Yakima or Medford this season and they went 1-2 in their only three games against stiff competition (the Bend Elks). We’ll know more about Bellingham in a week, because their next six games are against top teams -- the Corvallis Knights and the expansion Yakima Valley Pippins.
  • Victoria only used five pitchers in the entire Bellingham series (Wright, Ryan, Schneider, Rogers and Watkins).
  • Alex DeGoti was tagged with the dreaded Golden Sombrero on Wednesday night when he struck out four times in the game. It was his second Golden Sombrero of the year.


  1. Last night the HarbourCats did put some fresh blood into the lineup: Ted Boeke 3B, and John Grimsley LF. Despite the errors, it was nice to see them get the opportunity to play but it is hard to stay sharp when you're not playing.

  2. Annie - I could agree with MORE with your comments. The young men that don't get playing time, and barely have any organized team practice or coaching, are expected to get into the game and play at peak performance. They are all used to practicing and playing 6-8 hours a day at school, and they come here and not only don't play but don't practice either. They have very little opportunity to keep up their game and their skills in this situation! Ted Boeke for one - is a stand out player and was a stellar performer at LMU in his freshman year. Whatever the situation is up there, its not good.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Annie and Concerned Fan. Please keep them coming.

    The WCL is a very good summer wood-bat league, behind probably only the Cape Code and NorthWoods leagues. It's exceedingly difficult for freshmen (or incoming freshmen!) to have a lot of success in the WCL. Sean Watkins is a rare exception to the rule. It's also not an easy transition to go from being *the* superstar in high school to being just one of the regular guys in a player's first year of college.

    Boeke had a pretty decent freshman season at LMU: 121 AB, .289 BA, .355 SLG, .344 OBP and .917 fielding percentage, although all of these marks were technically below the corresponding figures for the overall team. Many freshmen simply ride the pine for most of their initial college season. I'd expect Boeke to have more success in his sophomore year and if he comes back to the WCL next summer then I wouldn't be surprised to see him earn a starting role. He has a bright future and he'll only get better with the experience that he'll pick up in the next 12 months.

  4. Pretty easy to guess these coachs are totally over there heads at this level, JC guys at best.