Friday, May 30, 2014

HarbourCats extend the arms race

The Victoria HarbourCats signed two more pitchers earlier this week and now boast a pitching staff of 21 -- count ‘em -- 21 hurlers. The latest to be inked to deals are right-handed relievers Mark Marinch from Dixie State University and Cuesta College’s Alex Fagalde.

Marinch just finished his junior season at Dixie State, a Division II school in St. George, Utah  (as an aside, fans of the defunct Victoria Seals may remember the old St. George Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League). He posted a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings on the hill this spring. Marinch showed excellent control, but only struck out 4.5 batters per nine innings.

Fagalde was scheduled to play for Bob Miller’s Cuesta College Cougars this spring, but he didn’t see any action due to injury. In his freshman season in 2013, Fagalde posted a 1.86 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 19 ⅓ innings pitched. Like Marinch, he also has good control but doesn’t strike out many batters.

  • A number of HarbourCats players are already in town, including Kelly Norris-Jones, Brandon Feldman, Brett Hull, Wyler Smith and Eric Hegadoren. The team’s first workout is Monday.
  • The HarbourCats will be selling a much-improved set of merchandise this summer. Not only has the quality gone up, but the sheer variety of merchandise is staggering. Cat-head logo hats? Check. HarbourCats shoes? Check. HarbourCats necklaces? Check. Prepare to be amazed -- even a noted cheapskate like myself took a crowbar to his wallet recently to buy some team swag.
  • The HarbourCats take on a combined squad of Victoria Mariners and Eagles in an exhibition game next Thursday night at Sports Traders Diamond at RAP. The easiest way to get tickets is to purchase them online on the team’s website.
  • The H-Cats open the regular season on Friday June 6th in Kelowna against the Falcons. Look for the Falcons to be a much better team in 2014 than they were last season, so winning the opening series is definitely not a given for Victoria.
  • The Home Opener is set for Tuesday June 10th versus the Cowlitz Black Bears. It will be Cowlitz’s first-ever trip into Victoria.
  • Bin 4 Burger Lounge will be featured in the BBQ area at RAP this summer. If you haven’t eaten at Bin 4 then you are in for a real treat. I highly doubt that you’ll find a better burger in the entire West Coast League (or anywhere in the Capital Regional District for that matter). Try them -- they are outstanding!
  • The HarbourCats roster now includes 42 players -- 4 juniors, 15 sophomores, 19 freshmen and 4 high school seniors. Broken down by level, there are 26 NCAA Division I players, 2 from NCAA Division II, 6 from California Community Colleges, 3 from the National Junior College Athletic Association, 1 from the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges and 4 recent high school grads.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Another step taken toward the CWS for ten HarbourCats

With the NCAA Div 1 regular seasons complete and the conference championships decided, the NCAA made it's picks this morning of the 64 teams that will make up the field for the Regional tournaments that start this coming Friday. Ten HarbourCat are moving forward into the tourneys.

Gabe Clark is one happy Beaver!
Gabe Clark's Oregon State Beavers captured the #1 National seed ensuring they should be hosting as long as they stay in the tournament (until the tourney moves to Omaha, that is). No small feat, the Beavers were close last year at #3, and in 2005 at #8. They will host the regional in Corvallis (home of the Knights!).

Kentucky (Andrew Nelson, Thomas Bernal) enters the Louisville regional as the #2 seed there, and Long Beach State (Alex DeGoti, Logan Lombana) head to Gainesville Florida also as the #2 seed.

The busiest "HarbourCat" regional takes place in San Luis Obispo California, where Cal Poly (Jake Lesinksi), Pepperdine (Aaron Barnett, Devin Carter), and Sacramento State (Gunner Pollman, Nathan Lukes) will battle along with Arizona State to move on. On the positive side for Victoria, two of the three teams will be eliminated in the regional, and those players will be available to start the season. This is the first time Sacramento State has made the tournament.

Absent from the tournament are a few teams with HarbourCat ties that had less than memorable conference tournaments...

  • University of New Mexico Lobos who entered their conference tournament as favourites lost two difficult games and made an early exit, dropping them to 63rd in the RPI rankings. UNLV eventually captured the Mountain West conference title, and the losses pushed the Lobos out of consideration for a bid. 
  • The Illinois Fighting Illini were upset by Michigan State twice and didn't make it to Saturday, finishing with an RPI of 55. Indiana won the Big 10 tournament.
  • Seattle University lost it's first two games and made an early exit from the WAC tournament, eventually won by Sacramento Sate. SU's RPI was 217.
  • Loyola-Marymount lost to Pepperdine in the final of the West Coast Conference and ended with an RPI of 123.

Of those teams, Illinois were the only ones with a shot at an "at large" bid on Monday. They had good stats in all of the metrics in play for getting a spot, but were not selected. I'm guessing it was the 3.0 from the Russian judge that did them in...

Lots of chatter (as always) around who made it and who didn't, including some very vocal people on the west coast who think the PAC 12 was slighted. While Oregon is hosting based on their National #1 ranking, the other PAC 12 teams have been scattered all over the country to play in other regionals. The Washington Huskies should have been considered to host given their outstanding season, but are instead headed to Mississippi ranked #2 in that regional. The Oregon Ducks are headed to Nashville, and Stanford is heading to Bloomington Indiana. Gotta love the subjective aspect of college sports!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Coles Notes version of the NCAA Baseball Tournament

Back in early March, Bubba wrote a blog post explaining how the Division I NCAA baseball post-season works. With the conference tournaments and (in some cases) conference regular seasons just wrapping up, it’s worth reviewing the main concepts laid out in that blog post.

The 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament begins this Friday. A total of 64 teams qualify for the tournament using an arcane methodology that requires a PhD in mathematics to decipher. Fortunately, Bubba boiled down this complexity into something that mere mortals can understand in his post. In any event, we’ll find out which schools made the cut on Monday morning at 9 AM when the NCAA announces the field of 64. The press conference will be covered live on ESPNU, but don’t expect TSN to interrupt regular programming to give us the live feed from their parent company.

Teams that make the cut for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament (“the field of 64”) will still have to win two more rounds of post-season play in order to make the College World Series. Only eight teams make the College World Series, which will be held from June 14th to 24th (or 25th) in Omaha Nebraska. The two rounds that the field of 64 teams will need to win to make the College World Series are:
  • The Regionals (May 30th to June 2nd). This round is comprised of 16 separate four-team regional tournaments.
  • The Super Regionals (June 6th to 9th). This rounds is comprised of 8 separate best-of-three series (16 teams total).
The winner of each super regional advances to the College World Series. At this point, no team has qualified for the College World Series, because we won’t know who has won the super regionals until those eight head-to-head match-ups (between 16 yet-to-be-determined teams) have been played. Some teams have earned an automatic qualification for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament (“the field of 64”), but many of the teams won’t be known officially until 9 AM on Monday when the NCAA makes their much-anticipated announcement. Any questions? As one of my math professors use to say, "Clear as mud."

Friday, May 23, 2014

HarbourCat updates from the NCAA Conference Tournaments

Just a few quick notes on how HarbourCat players are performing in their conference tournaments...

I've included links to each tourney's real-time bracket so you can follow along over the weekend.

Kentucky's Andrew Nelson threw four shut-out innings and picked up his first save of the year as the Wildcats beat Alabama in their first game of the SEC tournament. Kentucky is on a role, beating top-seeded Florida and Missisippi State. Their 3-0 record puts them 2 wins away from the SEC title. Kentucky 1B Thomas Bernal is 2-11 with 2 RBI in the series so far. The SEC Bracket is here.

New Mexico's Preston Ryan, Carson Schneider, and Danny Collier are in tough in the Mountain West after a difficult loss in their first game. Tied 3-3 in the 7th against San Diego State, the Lobos committed 3 errors in the 7th inning and gave up 8 unearned runs to lose the game 11-5. Collier and ex-Cat Alex Real went a combined 0-9 in the loss. On the positive side, Preston Ryan had perhaps his best outing as a Lobo, giving up only a single hit in two solid innings of relief. Nevada won big against Utah State Friday afternoon to meet the Lobos Friday night. Wolfpack IF Bryce Greager has not yet played in the tournament. The MW bracket is here.

Pepperdine's Aaron Barnett went 3-5 in game 1 of the West Coast Conference bracket, OF Devin Carter did not play. A smaller tournament, #1 Pepperdine can take the WCC title with two more wins, including Friday afternoon against the Loyola Marymount Lions - 'Cats Tim Peabody did not play in LMU's first game, and 3B Ted Boeke went 0-3. The WCC bracket is here.

Illinois (and local boy) Kelly Norris-Jones' Fighting Illini lost a tough first game in their Big Ten conference tourney to Michigan State 2-1 before bouncing back against Ohio State 6-5. Norris-Jones is 3-6 with a run scored and 3 Ks in the DH role so far. The Big Ten bracket is here.

Sacremento State, ranked #1 in the Western Athletic Conference going into the tournament were surprised by the #4 ranked Bakersfield Roadrunners 4-1 in their first tournament game. OF Nathan Lukes went 0-4 in the game, C Gunner Pollman did not play.  Also in the WAC, #5 ranked Seattle University sits at 1-1, SS/2B/DH Griffin Andreychuk is 3-8 with a run scored in the two games. The WAC bracket is here.

Once the tournaments conclude on the weekend, and Monday's at-large bid selection process is complete, we will know which of our boys move forward. Good luck to our HarbourCats!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pivetta continues journey to the big leagues

The player who threw the first pitch and earned the first win in franchise history could become the first former Victoria HarbourCat to make the big leagues. Nick Pivetta, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals, made two starts with the HarbourCats before he inked a professional contract last June for a $364,300 US signing bonus.

Former HarbourCat Nick Pivetta
After leaving the HarbourCats, the Victoria native appeared in four games in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie level) and earned a quick promotion to Short Season ‘A’ ball after posting a sparkling 2.13 ERA with the GCL Nationals. Pivetta was then assigned to the Auburn (NY) Doubledays of the New York-Penn League for the remainder of the 2013 season. He notched a 3.38 ERA for the Doubledays in spite of battling periods of uncharacteristic wildness (11 walks in 21 ⅓ innings).

The Nationals showed confidence in Pivetta by promoting him to ‘A’ ball for the beginning of the 2014 season, and he has responded to the challenge. In 9 starts this spring, Pivetta has a 3.27 ERA and 1.32 WHIP for the Hagerstown (Maryland) Suns, and his 7-2 record gives him the most wins in the entire South Atlantic League. Don’t be surprised if Pivetta moves up another level in the second half of the season -- he could soon be suiting up for the Potomac Nationals (Advanced ‘A’) or the Harrisburg Senators (‘AA’).

Of course, it’s entirely possible that another former HarbourCat beats Pivetta to the big leagues. Last summer we made it clear to anyone who would listen that Alex Real looks like a guy who is destined to be an MLB player, and his work with the University of New Mexico Lobos this spring has done nothing to change our mind. Real recently was named to the short list of candidates for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award.

The steady progress that both Pivetta and Real have shown in the last year reflects well on both the Victoria HarbourCats and the entire West Coast League. For a few measly dollars, fans can come out and watch future major leaguers in action at Royal Athletic Park (oops, I mean Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park). That’s pretty darn good value if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mr. Baseball

Photo cred to Jake Garcia via Twitter
Literally. We've talked so much lately about baseball coming back to Victoria, we've analyzed baseball players, baseball executives, baseball statistics but what about just, the baseball.

If you've watched Bull Durham, you'll know that there are 108 stitches in a baseball, but do you know how they got there? It wasn't a machine. In fact, MLB baseballs are all hand-sewn in Rawlings factories with questionable labour practices in Central America (see Ralph Nader vs. Bud Selig circa 2006 - but that's another story). And although the West Coast League uses Baden baseballs (whew), I think you will find this brief 5 minute video on how baseballs are made to be absolutely fascinating. Click here to watch it.

Can you believe it's not more automated? This was supposedly the first time that cameras were allowed in the factories and while they don't show the whole process, you will get the idea.

But this is not the only aspect of baseballs that is shrouded in mystery. Most people know that baseballs are "rubbed down" with mud before they make it into the field of play. But where does the mud come from? I have heard it called Mississippi Mud but that is a misnomer as the mud used for MLB baseballs comes from only one place and that is New Jersey. That said, the Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud company does not divulge the exact location where it "harvests" hundreds of pounds of mud every year, or if they add any special ingredients to make it just perfect.

Mmmm...mud pie

How did all this rubbing get started? Back in 1938, an umpire complained to Lena Blackburne - then a third base coach for the old Philadelphia Athletics - about how hard the balls were to grip (tee hee) so Lena went out and did something about it. His mud took the shine off the ball without softening the leather (which would make it easier to tamper with) and thus began the business that has been handed down within his family right to present day.

Think that is more than you ever wanted to know about baseballs? Think again. Here are some more inane (but interesting!) facts to ponder:

  • The HarbourCats ordered 160 dozen (almost 2000) baseballs for the upcoming season
    • And they may have to order some more later in July - especially for the playoff run!!
  • 2014 West Coast League balls are Baden baseballs - same as last year
  • Estimates vary, but the MLB estimates that the average life of a baseball is around six pitches
  • And it takes about one elapsed week to make a baseball (!)
  • That's about 50 balls a game or 120,000 balls for the season
  • The switch from scarce horsehide to cowhide was made in 1974
  • Each ball must weight between five and five and a quarter ounces and be nine to nine and a quarter inches in circumference
  • It takes about 15 minutes to stitch a baseball
  • Rawlings has been the supplier of MLB baseballs since 1977, taking over from Spalding
You are welcome!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

HarbourCats aiming for the CWS

With a week to go in the Division 1 College Baseball season, several of our 'Cats are looking at taking a step towards a College World Series championship by moving into the round of 64. Based either on their team's conference rankings or on their overall RPI ranking, a total of 12 of our boys have a shot at the dance.

Leading the way are the Oregon State Beavers (1B Gabe Clark). The Beavers are ranked #5 in the country this week, and lead the Pac 12 conference. This should give them a national Seed - meaning they are in line to host a Super-8 regional if they make it into the second round of the tournament. Road trip down south anyone?

The HarbourCats also have signed players playing for four other division leaders, all expected to hold on and make the tournament:

University of New Mexico (P Carson Schneider, P Preston Ryan, and OF Danny Collier)
Pepperdine University (C Aaron Barnett, OF Devin Carter)
Cal Poly (C Jake Lesinksi)
Sacramento State (C Gunner Pollman, OF Nathan Lukes)

If you do not win your conference, you are up to the ranking system to grant you an "at large" entry into the tournament. Currently, three players are playing for teams ranked high enough to be considered:

University of Kentucky (P Andrew Nelson, 1B Thomas Bernal) ranked 21st
University of Illinios (Kelly Norris-Jones) ranked 52nd

Kentucky is almost assured of an entry at this point, while Illinios will have to have a monster weekend and win a series in Nebraska against the #33 ranked Cornhuskers to move up. Not many people outside of Champaign would take that bet...

This should be an exciting last-weekend of Div 1 ball as teams complete their seasons and wait to find out their post-season fate. Final selections are done in a televised event May 26th. Regionals run May 29-June 1, Super Regionals June 6-8, and the College World Series is scheduled for June 14-25. If none of that makes any sense to you at all, check out our article on how the NCAA season works...

As the tournament draw is decided and the regionals begin, we'll keep you updated on our 'Cats as they progress.

05/16 Update: Gus was quick to point out yesterday that Long Beach State (P Logan Lombana, 2B Alex Dogoti) actually have a reasonable shot as well. The Dirtbags tend to put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Div 1, which leaves them struggling to post a .500 record each year (a mandatory requirement to make the tourney). This year they have gotten above that mark - and playing more difficult teams significantly impacts your RPI in a positive way. They currently sit at #50. With a spectacular final push (they have 6 games left), they could find themselves in the hunt for an at-large entry.

That means 14 HarbourCats could be carrying on into the post season...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lobos Update - UNM hanging on in Mountain West

How quickly the tide can shift in the relatively short Div 1 season... A week ago, the University of New Mexico Lobos were cruising to a Mountain West conference title, and an automatic berth in the NCAA regionals.

Then like many a failed relationship - Vegas happened.

A weekend road trip to UNLV saw the Lobos lose all three games, getting outscored 39-10 in the process. Returning home with a fourth loss in a row - this time to San Diego State, the Lobos found themselves in a race with the Rebels of UNLV. After righting the ship by winning the final two games of the series with San Diego, the Lobos and Rebels were tied for first place in the MWC. This past weekend, the Lobos went 2-1 against the University of Nevada Wolfpack, while UNLV went 1-2 against San Diego State - leaving NM a game ahead with only three games remaining in the season. The Lobos are in the driver's seat to secure their four-peat as conference champs.

They finish the season against with three game sets at home to the last place Air Force Falcons. UNLV is home to the Nevada Wolfpack in their final series.

It's likely that even with a loss, the Lobos will make the 64 team tournament, which means our three Lobos may have a delayed arrival in Victoria as they progress.

On the field, OF Danny Collier continues to receive accolades for his stellar play, both for his defensive ability and at the plate - so much so that he is currently forth in the NCAA in Freshman batting average, and has an excellent chance at becoming a Freshman All-American. He had hit safely in all of his 28 starts this season before injuring a hamstring legging out a double two weekends ago. He missed eight games and returned with a bang, going 3-4, but has re-aggravated the injury and has missed the team's next three games. His bat being out of the line-up certainly had at least something to do with the team's slump.  He was with the team last weekend, and went 1-1 in a pinch hit role. He's still hitting .365, but remains questionable for the team's final series.

LHP Carson Schneider is getting plenty of work - he's up to 21 appearances, and 24.1 total innings of work. His ERA remains a solid 3.70.

RHP Preston Ryan is having a bit more success out of the bullpen - he's got his ERA down to 9.56 after his first scoreless two innings of work this season.

Expect more Lobos updates as the season draws to a close, and the boys make it to the big dance!


The Lobos aren't the only team pushing toward the championship with HarbourCats on their rosters. The Pepperdine Waves, led by HarbourCat Catcher Aaron Barnett are currently ranked #22 in the country, and are leading the West Coast conference by 2 games. Pepperdine is predicted to go far in the tourney this year, meaning Barnett's .357 average will be missing to start the season.

We'll have a complete rundown of playoff / timing implications in a week for all our upcoming HarbourCats...

Monday, May 12, 2014

H-Cats roster firms up

Dylan Stowell
We have good news and bad news regarding the HarbourCats roster. First the bad news… because it’s always easier getting that out of the way as quickly as possible.

Yesterday the team announced that three previously-signed players won’t be able to suit up for the HarbourCats this summer due to injuries. The players are Andrew Calica (UCSB), Will Dennis (Seattle U) and Matt Susac (University of Nevada). Calica is a big loss, since he was probably the best outfielder on the team. Fortunately the HarbourCats are very deep in the outfield, so it will free up some playing time for other capable players like the sweet-swinging Hunter Mercado-Hood. Losing Dennis, a lefty who can both close and be a frontline starter, will also hurt. Now for the good news...

The 'Cats announced that they have signed four more players, including three pitchers. The new recruits are:

2013-14 School
Garcia, Alex
HS Senior
Bishop Amat Memorial HS
High School
Stowell, Dylan
California Baptist University
NCAA Division II
Sullivan, Don
Riverside City College
Cal. Comm. Colg. Athletic Assn.
Pollman, Gunner
Sacramento State
NCAA Division I

The most intriguing signing out of this group is freshman pitcher Dylan Stowell from California Baptist University (a Division II school). In six relief appearances this spring, Stowell has struck out 10 batters and given up only one hit over 8 ⅔ innings pitched -- but he has also walked 8 batters. Based on those numbers, we might have another “Nuke” LaLoosh on our hands, but if Stowell can improve on his control then he’ll be very useful in late-inning situations.

The HarbourCats now have 40 players under contract. Look for a few more tweaks to the roster as we approach Opening Day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HarbourCanucks Corner - May 11th edition

This is our latest installment of HarbourCanucks Corner, our semi-regular update on the Canadians signed to full-season contracts by the Victoria HarbourCats for the summer of 2014.

Kelly Norris-Jones has been getting more playing time of late for the University of Illinois, including a pair of starts at DH over the last couple of days. Norris-Jones went a combined one-for-six at the plate this weekend with two RBI and a pair of walks. He’s now hitting .212 with a solid .357 on-base percentage in 33 at-bats this season. The Fighting Illini, who have now won seven consecutive games, will take part in the Big Ten Tournament on May 21st-25th after playing their last three regular-season games this week.

On Saturday, Norris-Jones was hit by a pitch for the fourth time this season, which means that he has now been plunked once in every 12.3 at-bats throughout his college career. His penchant for taking one for the team got me thinking… maybe the HarbourCats should have a small display at RAP showing the number of times Norris-Jones has been hit by a pitch this summer. The San Francisco Giants had one showing the number of “Splash Hits” for Barry Bonds, so why not a similar display for the most unselfish of baseball acts? Of course, we’d have to call it the “KNJ Plunk-O-Meter.” Just a thought...

The University of Seattle’s Griffin Andreychuk returned to action on Saturday after being held out of the lineup with an injury for the last couple of weeks. He went 0-for-4 with a HBP and walk in a doubleheader against Utah Valley, but the Nanaimo native is still hitting .304 with a .407 OBP in 92 at-bats this season. Seattle U is in sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference with an 11-10 record, but earlier today they clinched a spot in the WAC Tournament that will be held on May 21st-25th. The Redhawks play the last five games of their regular season over the next eight days before travelling to the Chicago Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa for the tournament.

The Otero Junior College Rattlers’ season is over after they lost the Region IX championship in extra innings on Saturday. Box scores from the tournament aren't currently available, so we don’t have any information on how Brandon Feldman performed. Feldman finished the regular season with an impressive 2-1 record, 1.53 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He walked 10 and struck out 20 In 29 ⅓ innings on the hill.

  • The HarbourCats have organized a bus trip for fans to travel to Kelowna to watch Victoria open the season against the Falcons. The bus leaves in the early morning of Friday June 6th and returns on the Sunday, allowing fans to see the Friday and Saturday evening games. See the HarbourCats news release for full details. 
  • There are only 26 more days until Opening Day in Kelowna.
  • Don’t forget that the HarbourCats play an exhibition game before opening the season in Kelowna. On Thursday June 5th the ‘Cats will take on the top players from the Victoria Eagles and Mariners at Sports Traders Diamond at RAP. The Home Opener is set for Tuesday June 10th against the Cowlitz Black Bears. You can get complete ticket information at the HarbourCats website.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gaucho Marks - May 6th edition

University of California Santa Barbara centre fielder Andrew Calica remains flawless in the field over 96 chances, tallying four assists to top it all off. It sure will be a treat to watch this lad patrolling the green grass of Sports Traders Diamond this summer. And while he is struggling a bit with the stick right now, he still contributes not only with his defense, but with his speed/stolen bases once he does get on base.

UCSB as a team has had a rough go lately, dropping four of their last six games while mixing in a tie (!) on a game called on account of darkness. Calica is still hitting a respectable .319 with a .418 on base percentage (second on the team for starters) so it's certainly not panic time. In the four games he has seen action in lately - has has sat three of the last seven - he has gone two for thirteen with four K's and 1 walk.

I'm thinking what he needs is some good old Victoria luck sent his way. We have seen what he is capable of earlier this year, so it may just be the wear and tear of the college year but I think I can fix that. I have several lucky charms right here near my desk including a cow's tooth and a chestnut shaped like a heart, that found when I was nine. I will now perform an Imperial Luck Dance (ILD) while focusing on thoughts of frozen ropes, bunt singles, gappers, Texas leaguers and even slicing Gus-like hits.
Spinnin' the tables for an ILD - go Calica!!

OK..finished. I think we're all set now. Look for the next update when Calica is back on a tear. Trust me. I'm a professional.

  • The Oregon State Beavers keep racking up the wins, taking all seven games since we last spoke. Our future 'Cat on that team - Gabe Clark - has been playing mostly first base lately (vs. Designated hitter) but has struggled a bit at the plate going two for twenty over that span with five K's and five free passes, hitting safely in only one of those games. While his average has dipped to .267, he's still seeing the field every day so he must be doing something right. Don't expect to see Gabe early in the WCL season as it looks like the Beavers may may a deep run in the College World Series this year.
  • On to Utah, where pitcher Bret Helton has seen only limited actions and no starts recently. He is being used mostly in a relief role and has pitched two innings over the past five games and has given up three earned runs on four hits while striking out four and walking no one. As it stands now, he sports a 4.60 ERA with a WHIP of 1.49.
  • Helton's teammate, Wyler Smith, has hit four for 21 over that same five game span and remains a stalwart in the Ute's outfield. Smith is currently hitting .244 and was one for six in a recent 21-17 slugfest loss to Pac 12 foe Washington.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

HarbourCanucks Corner - May 4th edition

This is our latest installment of HarbourCanucks Corner, our semi-regular update on the Canadians signed to full-season contracts by the Victoria HarbourCats for the summer of 2014.

Brandon Feldman of Otero Junior College got roughed up in his April 26th start against Western Nebraska CC. Feldman pitched 6 ⅓ innings, giving up four earned runs on 9 hits, while walking two and striking out three batters. His ERA is still an excellent 1.78 -- the best in entire Empire Conference. The Rattlers rallied to win six of their last seven games and finish with a 20-20 record to qualify for the Region IX Tournament that starts this week. They take on rival Lamar Community College (30-10) on Thursday in the first game of the double-elimination tournament.

Kelly Norris-Jones made his first start since March 22nd today and the Victoria native made the most of his opportunity. Pencilled in at DH, Norris-Jones went one-for-two with a double, a hit-by-pitch (of course!) and a stolen base. In his only other at-bat this week, Norris-Jones stroked a single and knocked in a run on Wednesday evening. He is now hitting .222 with a .344 on-base percentage in 27 at-bats this spring. Norris-Jones, who has never shied away from taking one for the team, has now been hit by a pitch once in every 12.7 at-bats in his college career. After finishing up their last six regular season games, the Fighting Illini will participate in the Big Ten Tournament on May 21st-25th.

Nanaimo’s Griffin Andreychuk hasn't appeared in any recent games for the University of Seattle due to an injury sustained against New Mexico State on April 19th. He is not expected to be out much longer. Andreychuk is hitting .318 with no homers and 11 RBI in 88 at-bats this season. Seattle U is currently in sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 10-8 record, but the top six teams in the conference will play in the WAC Tournament on May 21st-25th at the Chicago Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona. Only 8 games remain in the Redhawks’ regular season.

  • After throwing 135 pitches in his last start, Will Dennis got knocked around by Grand Canyon University on Friday. Dennis lasted only three innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs. He walked one and struck out a batter. Dennis still leads the Redhawks with a solid 2.81 ERA. 
  • Sacramento State’s Nathan Lukes, who may be the HarbourCats’ starting right fielder this summer, continued his hot hitting in April. Lukes leads the Hornets in batting average (.353), hits (71), runs (46) and at-bats (201). Sacramento State leads the Western Athletic Conference with a 17-4 record, so they have an excellent shot at winning the WAC Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Regionals (May 30th to June 2nd).
  • Hunter Mercado-Hood only got one start for the University of San Diego this week. His one-for-five on the week gives him a .306 batting average and .405 on-base percentage in 72 at-bats this season. With USD hitting a remarkable .322 as a team, at-bats have been tough to come by for the freshman this season.