Saturday, January 31, 2015

The 2015 college baseball season is here!

Spring can’t be far off, because the college baseball season is officially underway. Although NCAA Division I teams don’t begin play until February 13th, many junior / community colleges have already kicked off their seasons. As we have done for the last couple of years, we’ll be providing regular updates on the progress of HarbourCat players leading up to the beginning of the West Coast League season.

Alex Fagalde
The first HarbourCat to see game action in 2015 was Alex Fagalde, as he drew the opening day start on Thursday for the Cuesta College Cougars. Fagalde, one of seven returning HarbourCats from last summer’s squad, was one of the most effective pitchers for Victoria in 2014 and he could be the staff ace this summer. Based on the 1.85 ERA and 1.18 WHIP that he posted in 34 innings on the hill, our bloggers had him ranked fifth in team MVP voting, although he would have surely finished higher had he been given a more prominent role in the first half of the year.

On Thursday afternoon, Fagalde gave up only one earned run on four hits and two walks through his first seven innings on the mound, although Cuesta College was unable to score any runs for him and they trailed 1-0 after seven-and-a-half innings. Even though Fagalde was approaching 100 pitches and it was his first start of the year, Cuesta's current (and Victoria’s former) head coach Bob Miller chose to send him back out there for the bottom of the eighth inning. Fagalde faced four batters in the eighth -- all four reached base -- and he was finally pulled after throwing 113 pitches. Although the deficit was only 2-0 at the time, Fagalde left with the bases loaded and all three inherited runners would come around to score later in the inning. The Cougars would eventually lose 6-1, with Fagalde's line looking a lot worse than it should have:
7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

This isn't the first time that Fagalde has been left in a game too long by coach Miller (or former HarbourCat pitching coach Ben Jackson for that matter). Although he only made three starts for the HarbourCats last summer, Fagalde threw more than 100 pitches on two of those occasions, including a prolonged 126-pitch outing against Wenatchee on July 30th. For the sake of the long-term health of his pitching arm, let’s hope that Fagalde doesn't have to deal with too many more of those marathon outings moving forward.

In their inaugural season in 2013, HarbourCats threw more than 100 pitches on 26 occasions -- a remarkable stat considering that the West Coast League regular season has only 54 games. Last summer, Victoria hurlers "only" broke the 100-pitch barrier ten times, although in a perfect world young pitchers would rarely go over that threshold. Now that the HarbourCats have a new coaching staff in place, we’re expecting that these lengthy outings will become the exception and not the rule.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates on HarbourCat players throughout the college baseball season. Only 125 more days until opening day...

  • Alex Rogers was expected to start a game for Trinidad State (Colorado) Junior College this weekend, but all games have been cancelled due to bad weather. Rogers posted a solid 3.09 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 10 appearances (9 starts) for the HarbourCats last summer, and the Nanaimo native will be returning to the ‘Cats in 2015. 
  • Victoria native Chris Fougner is scheduled to begin his college baseball career this weekend with Salt Lake City Community College.  However, Friday's games were cancelled and it is unclear if Saturday's games will be played.
  • The HarbourCats who play in the Northwest Athletic Conference (Curtis Bafus, Zander Clouse, Matt Fish, Kyle Francis, John Naff and Jamie Umbinetti) don’t start their regular-season games until February 28th.

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