Sunday, May 31, 2015

HarbourCats first win of the season was a beauty, eh?

Matt Bryan had an auspicious debut with the 'Cats
This afternoon the HarbourCats opened their three-game preseason with a convincing 8-3 victory over the Langley Sr. Blaze, the defending Canadian senior men’s champions. The Blaze, a blend of former college and professional players, are normally tough competition for the regular HarbourCats roster, but today’s starting lineup featured six ‘Cats who were signed to 10-day contracts and seven Canadians in total.

The game was incredibly well played for an exhibition contest, as the two teams only committed a single error apiece and the game was completed in under three hours. In fact, I’d say that the game was more entertaining than an average regular-season game, so today’s $5 admission price was the best deal in town.

Centre fielder Matt Bryan of McPherson (Kansas) College gets my vote for player of the game. Bryan was signed to a 10-day contract last spring, but he rode the pine for one exhibition game and the first seven regular-season games before being released without ever entering a ballgame. Well, “Matty” made the most of his opportunity today, as the former Victoria Mariner went two-for-four with four runs batted in and a walk in his long-awaited HarbourCats debut. He also made an outstanding running catch in the top of the first inning to set the tone for the afternoon.

Shortstop Brady Rogers also looked impressive for the ‘Cats. The Nanaimo native doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored a pair of runs on the day. Although he only had one hit, every ball he put in play was struck sharply and he could have been credited with a single on a play that was ruled an error on the Blaze second baseman (it was one of those borderline plays that could have been called either way). Rogers also looked very good defensively, especially on a ball that was hit hard to his left in the bottom of the fifth. If he keeps it up, Brady should be around well past the end of his 10-day contract.

Chris Fougner
Chris Fougner, one of only two Canadians in uniform today who has been signed to a full-season contract, also looked good in his first game as a HarbourCat. Fougner went two-for-four with an RBI, three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. He’s a dynamic player who will be a lot of fun to watch this summer.

Jackson Thoreson may have been held to only a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch in five plate appearances, but it’s clear that this young man can play the game. His reputation with the bat is well established, as is his excellent work behind the plate, but it’s always reassuring to confirm these things with your own eyes. I was especially impressed with the way he moved behind the plate and blocked balls in the dirt. He has a very good arm as well, and he may well be the best catcher we’ve seen in a HarbourCats uniform since Minnesota Twins farmhand Alex Real donned the tools of ignorance for the ‘Cats.

Victoria’s pitching was also very good on this day. Mikey Wright got his first start in close to a year, so he has a bit of rust to scrape off in the early going this season. His initial outing was as good as one could expect: one earned run on a hit and two walks in two innings of work. His big mistake was hanging a curve ball to Joe Germaine in the top of the second, but the solo shot did minimal damage on scoreboard.

Alex Rogers earned the victory by pitching three solid innings of shutout baseball. He struck out three batters on the afternoon and it seemed to me that A-Rog has a bit more pop on his fastball than he did last summer, but it’s tough the tell for sure without a radar gun.

Josh Walker of Grand Canyon University had one good inning and one not-so-good inning, but he has loads of potential. Bonus points for wearing your socks the right way, young Mr. Walker. Sean O’Toole of St. Mary’s College and Pitt Panthers lefty Josh Mitchell each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the victory.

"Anyone know when the shipment of
HarbourCats caps is due to arrive?"
When all was said and done, it was the 10-day players who carried the day for the HarbourCats. Not only did the fill-ins contribute with solid offense and defense, but they hustled at all times. Take for example Zane Takhar busting his butt down the line in the bottom of the sixth to avoid hitting into an inning-ending double play. He may have earned an RBI for himself on the play, but more importantly he helped extend the HarbourCats lead to three runs.

Only 8 of the 33 HarbourCats signed to full-season contracts managed to report in time for today’s preseason game, with most of the the remaining 25 players trickling into town over the next week or so. Now I realize that many of those 25 late arrivals have valid reasons for not getting into town by May 31st, but here’s a bit of unsolicited advice to the rest of the team: Don’t delay getting here any longer than you really have to and when you get here you better be ready to go, because those scrappy Canadian ballplayers are gunning to take your job.

  • Kudos to full-season players Jackson Thoreson, Alex Rogers, Josh Mitchell, Chris Fougner, Mikey Wright, Josh Walker, Sean O'Toole and Connor Suing for arriving in time for the start of the preseason, along with all of the 10-day players who allowed us to field a team on such an early start date.
  • Brady and Alex Rogers were on the field together for three innings this afternoon, marking the first time twin brothers have suited up together in HarbourCats history. Two other brothers have played together for the team: Austin and Ty Russell and David and John Schuknecht, both in 2013.
  • Those 25 full-season players aren’t the only ones who haven’t arrived in time for the start of preseason games. The entire coaching staff wasn’t in uniform today and head coach Graig Merritt is still in Ontario finishing his commitment to the reality TV show Big Brother Canada. Harbourcats General Manager / Co-owner / VP Baseball / Media Relations Director / PA Announcer / On-field Host / Ticket Taker / Program Seller Jim Swanson added another line to his baseball resume by taking over the coaching reins today. He now has a 1.000 winning percentage in his collegiate coaching career.
  • Former CTV Vancouver Island sports anchor Mira Laurence did an excellent job filling in for the regular PA Announcer in today’s game. Hopefully she’ll get more opportunities to handle those duties in the future.
  • I had the pleasure of trying the burger from the Floyd’s Diner food truck down the third-base line today. Many fans were disappointed to find out that Bin 4 Burger Lounge is unable to return to Royal Athletic Park this season, but all is not lost. While I’m not going to compare Floyd’s burger to Bin 4’s -- let’s be serious, B4BL is in a class by themselves -- I’m happy to report that burger fans are in for a treat once again at HarbourCats games. I ordered the regular burger and it was a nice mix of old-school and new-school style. The patty was high-quality beef, the bun was tasty and the fixings were simple and tasty. I give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars on the demanding Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog’s gastronomic scale.
  • I had a quick look at the plate of ribs available at Fat Daddy’s Catering, which is located on the first-base side of the park. It looked and smelled pretty darn good and the $10 price tag seemed reasonable given the portion size. It’s on my list of food items to try next.
  • I didn’t hear the official attendance announced and it’s not listed in the box score, but the crowd for today’s game was surprisingly good considering the overcast weather and the fact that it was “just” an exhibition game. The 50-50 pot was $497.00, so there were definitely more than just a few hundred fans in attendance.
  • The exhibition season wraps up with games on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Tickets are only five bucks for these games, so come on down!
  • The regular season begins on Friday night when the HarbourCats take on the Kelowna Falcons at Royal Athletic Park. Game time is 6:35 p.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

HarbourCats sign two more Canadians, bringing total to 14

The HarbourCats signed two more Victoria natives to 10-day contracts yesterday to bring the total number of Vancouver Islanders on their roster to fourteen, a new high-water mark for the franchise. Eleven of the fourteen Canadians have been signed to short-term contracts, so it is unclear how many will still be around once all of the full-season players report.

Riley Edmonds
Right-handed pitcher Riley Edmonds has the talent to stick with the team for a lot longer than ten days. Edmonds filled in admirably for the HarbourCats last summer when a wave of early defections left the team extremely short of pitchers during the final week of the season. The former Victoria Eagle may have had no prior college experience at that point, but he still posted a 3.85 ERA and a stellar 0.96 WHIP in 9 ⅓ innings on the hill for the ‘Cats. Edmonds is coming off of an outstanding freshman season at Otero Junior College (La Junta, Colorado) in which he registered a 2.49 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 21 ⅔ innings, all in relief. Not only did he strike out more than a batter per inning this spring, but he also had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost 6:1. That rare combination of great control and the ability to consistently fan hitters was no fluke, because Edmonds had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost 9:1 in 2014 with the Eagles. He could be a valuable short man out of the HarbourCats bullpen this summer if given the chance.

Matt Bryan
The ‘Cats also signed junior outfielder Matt Bryan of McPherson (Kansas) College, an NAIA Division II school. Bryan put up a modest .266 / .333 / .394 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) in 109 at-bats with the Bulldogs, although he did finish in a tie for the team lead in home runs with three. In the spring of 2014, Bryan posted a .239 / .409 / .338 slash line with Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon. Although the former Victoria Mariner wore the HarbourCats uniform last summer, he did not see any game action for the duration of his 10-day contract. Bryan was released on June 13th after riding the pine for the first seven games of the season, but let’s hope that he at least gets into a game in his second opportunity with the ‘Cats.

The HarbourCats roster currently sits at a whopping 44 players -- 45 if you count the injured Adam Alcantara. Broken down by position, the team has 16 pitchers, 5 catchers, 13 infielders and 10 outfielders. With only six of our players (Jarvis Scott, Henry Omaña, Nick Wojtysiak, Chase Lambert, Gabe Clark and Michael Gretler) participating in the NCAA Tournament, that can only mean that a significant number of our full-season players won't be arriving in time for the three-game exhibition season that kicks off on Sunday due to other reasons. My guess is that many of the eleven local players on 10-day contracts will be on the team for less than ten days regardless of how well they play (if indeed they play at all). Ah, the life of a 10-dayer...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HarbourCats move towards the 2015 College World Series

Monday morning, the NCAA announced the 64 teams that would be participating in the 2015 edition of the College World Series tournament. This is of interest to HarbourCats fans, as the tournament runs parallel to the start of the West Coast League season and players on teams remaining in the tournament are delayed in showing up here in Victoria. This season, six HarobourCats will be extending their college seasons with hopes of winning a CWS title.

UCLA lifting the hardware in 2013
Perhaps the person with the best shot at hoisting the trophy is freshman infielder Scott Jarvis of the UCLA Bruins. Many analysts consider the #1 ranked Bruins as the odds-on favourite to make the finals on their side of the bracket.  Hoping to reclaim the title they won in 2013, they are hosting their regional tournament beginning Friday.

Three More HarbourCats will be fighting to advance against each other in another California-based regional. Call State Fullerton (Henry Omana) will play its first game against Pepperdine (Nick Wojitysiak and Chase Lambert) also on Friday night. Cal State holds the top spot in this regional and is expected to prevail into the Super Regional.

That leaves Oregon State (Gabe Clark and Michael Gretler) as the only other school sending HarbourCat players into the tournament. OSU is ranked second in their regional beginning Friday in Dallas.

On the Alumni side, ex-HarbourCat Kelly Norris-Jones and his Illinois Fighting Illini enter the tournament as the #6 ranked team in the country (some polls have them ranked as high as #3), hosting their own regional in Champaign. The Illini have had a fantastic season and have a decent shot of making the round of 16.

Teams winning this weekend’s regional tournaments will participate in the 16-team Super-Regionals around the time of our opening weekend. Teams making it past that point play in the CWS Final tourney June 13-23. For a full explanation of the process, see our blog post from last year on the Road to Omaha.

We here at the blog wish all of our past and future HarbourCats success and health throughout the tournament bracket.

Monday, May 25, 2015

‘Cats sign pair of locals

The HarbourCats roster continues to firm up as we get closer to Opening Day. While our favourite day of the year is only 11 days away, the team’s exhibition season begins even earlier -- this Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM, to be exact.

Today we learned that two more local boys will be wearing the HarbourCats jersey, but unfortunately we also found out that Adam (A.J.) Alcantara of UC Irvine will be unable to spend the summer in Victoria due to a leg injury. But let's focus on the positive...

Brandon Feldman
The HarbourCats have signed sophomore 1B/RHP Brandon Feldman of Otero Junior College (La Junta, Colorado) to a 10-day contract. The former Victoria Eagles star enjoyed a breakout season with the Rattlers this spring by hitting .318 with 5 homers and 42 RBI in 151 at-bats. Feldman led the team in doubles (12), home runs, sacrifice flies (7) and slugging percentage (.497) after hitting a paltry .160 in 25 at-bats as a freshman. His offensive numbers shouldn’t really be a surprise, because Feldman was the MVP and batting champion of the BC Premier League in 2013 with the Eagles. Although he pitched five scoreless innings for the HarbourCats last summer, his lack of control has been his Achilles’ heel, and it’s pretty clear that his talents are best utilized with a bat in his hands. If he’s given a chance, this guy could put up some solid offensive numbers this summer.

Zane Takhar
Another former Victoria Eagle has been signed to a 10-day contract, 2B/SS Zane Takhar of Northeastern State University (NCAA Division II) in Oklahoma. Takhar was redshirted this spring, so he did not appear in any games for the RiverHawks. In 2014, Takhar hit .287 with no homers and 10 RBI in 129 at-bats with Eagles, but he did manage to post a .439 on-base percentage by walking more than twice for every time that he struck out (32 walks vs. 15 strikeouts). He’s only a singles hitter at this point of his career, but he’ll easily be able to hold down the fort until the big guns arrive in June. Takhar played second base against HarbourCats in a June 5, 2014 exhibition game at Royal Athletic Park and went zero-for-three with an RBI.

The ‘Cats have also signed freshman LHP Connor Suing of Corban University, an NAIA Division II school in Salem, Oregon. Suing did not make any appearances on the mound this spring and his high school numbers aren’t available either. About all we know about Mr. Suing is that he is a graduate of McNary High School in Keizer, Oregon and that he is scheduled to pitch for Western Oregon University (NCAA Division II) in the fall. He has been signed to a full-season contract.

  • The HarbourCats also announced an intriguing Ducks on the Pond promotion today. Details can be found in their official press release
  • The team also announced that tickets for their three pre-season games will be sold for only $5. Sounds like a deal to me!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

HarbourCats sign seven but lose three star pitchers

As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s deja vu all over again.” We recently learned that three more players have been forced to back off their commitment to play for Victoria this summer. This time it’s Ryan Wilson (innings quota), George Alamillo (injury) and Zander Clouse (reasons unknown) who have pulled out, bringing the total number of cancellations this off-season to a whopping 16 players. We’ll have plenty to say about this latest trend in a future blog post, but for now let’s concentrate on who will pick up the slack for the departed hurlers.

The team also announced today that they have signed one import to a full-season contract and six Canadians to 10-day contracts.

Left-hander Nick Wojtysiak is a freshman at Pepperdine University. While he has only thrown three innings this spring for the Waves and he has posted a 12.00 ERA, he put up gaudy numbers as a senior at Fountain Hills High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Wojtysiak was nearly unhittable in that magical season, as he posted a 0.32 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 44 ⅓ innings pitched. Not only did opponents hit a feeble .101 against him, but he struck out an electric 15.0 batters per nine innings. Let’s hope that Wojtysiak recovers his mojo this summer, because he has a very high ceiling.
Kenton Schroter

Kenton Schroter is a right-handed pitcher with the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute (VIBI) Mariners, a team that plays in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. Schroter, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, should return to US college baseball in 2016 after blowing out his elbow in 2013 with Cochise College in Arizona. His comeback has gone swimmingly so far, with the Nanaimo native posting a 1.49 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 89 innings pitched with the VIBI Mariners. Schroter’s 2013 numbers with Cochise College were excellent (2.87 ERA and 1.28 WHIP), so the HarbourCats may have uncovered a real pitching gem here. Keep in mind that that former HarbourCat Connor Russell posted the fourth-lowest ERA in ‘Cats history after putting up less impressive numbers than Schroter has with the Mariners.
Justin Clarkson

Third baseman Justin Clarkson is a sophomore with Midland College, a Division I junior college in Texas. Clarkson, another Nanaimo native, hit .335 with an impressive six homers and 39 RBI in 182 at-bats this spring. The left-handed slugger also showed great strike-zone judgement (17 BB and 18 K), so I’m expecting him to feel comfortable against the tough pitching in the West Coast League this summer. Don’t be surprised if he hangs around with the ‘Cats for longer than ten days. Quite frankly, I'm surprised a player of this caliber wasn't signed to a full-season contract last fall.

Brady Rogers is Alex Rogers' (fraternal) twin brother and a teammate of A-Rog’s at Trinidad State Junior College. Brady was the team's starting shortstop this spring and the left-handed hitting Nanaimo native hit .292 with a fabulous .443 on-base percentage in 96 at-bats. His breakout offensive performance was a huge step up from his freshman season with Colby (Kansas) Community College. He may play a key role in the early going with the HarbourCats, considering that the team has a dearth of experienced shortstops.
Brady Rogers

Evan Willow is a freshman catcher at McPherson College (NAIA Division II), although he can also play first base and DH. The former Victoria Mariner put up a tidy .293 / .373 / .436 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) this spring and led his team in doubles, homers and slugging percentage. He also tied for team lead in total bases and walks. Willow was named Freshman of the Year in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and he received honourable mention for the All-Conference team at designated-hitter. It's worth noting that Willow actually dressed for the Victoria HarbourCats in the last three games of the 2013 WCL season, but he did not appear in any games. With four catchers already signed to full-season contracts, Willow is going to have to impress the ‘Cats early to stick around for any length of time.

Utility infielder Morgan Varley is a freshman at Thompson Rivers University, a rival of the VIBI Mariners in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. Varley hit .317 with no homers and 10 RBI in 63 at-bats with the Wolfpack this spring. The former Victoria Mariner played against the HarbourCats in a June 5, 2014 exhibition game and went 1-for-4 with a walk. He played shortstop than night and singled off of Alex Rogers.

Zach Diewert is a high school senior who is currently playing for the Nanaimo Pirates in the BC Premier Baseball League. The native of Chemainus is currently hitting .413 with two homers and a league-leading 26 RBI in 75 at-bats. He’s headed to Polk State (Florida) College, a Division I junior college, in the fall.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - Pac-12 edition

OSU slugger Gabe Clark is back in action
The NCAA baseball season is down it its final few games before the conference tournaments which then leads to the selection of the 64 teams that make it to the "Dance". What better time to check in with our boys in the Pac-12 since at least two of them will be making an appearance, hoping to make it all the way to the College World Series in mid-June.

The Oregon State Beavers - who are the home for two future HarbourCats - have only lost once in their last thirteen games and that includes a rare 2-2 tie against the Washington Huskies who had to halt the game in order to catch their ride back to the Apple State. The Beavers have made a jump up to number 18 in the latest rankings after not being ranked at all for several weeks.

While I cheer for our lads on Oregon State, it is with mixed emotions. If the Beavers soar and make a deep run, it means that they will not join the HarbourCats until a few days after their season ends. That said, the experience would be amazing and in the end...go OSU! To be honest, I'll just be happy to have a leader like Gabe Clark stay committed to playing this summer because some of the previous "commitments" have not been so solid.

On to Beavers third baseman Michael Gretler, who has been thrust into a starting role in recent weeks as the everyday third baseman. Regular starting shortstop, Trever Morrison, went down with a season-ending hand injury at the end of April so third baseman Caleb Hamilton slid over to short and YAHTZEE, Gretler gets the nod at third.

Mr. Gretler has played in 11 straight games and it didn't start off all that well. In the first six games, he was hitless in twelve at bats before hitting safely in four of the next five games. His average over that span was just .118 but as I said, he is starting to pick it up, just in time for the stretch run. Over that span he has struck out nine times and walked four, while making three errors in the field (but none in the last five games). All in all, he seems to be rising to the occasion lately and here's to hoping it keeps up AND follows him on his plane to Victoria this summer!

OSU first baseman/DH Gabe Clark has not seen a lot of action lately, only playing in two of the last thirteen games. I was thinking he must be nursing some sort of injury or something but it seems that was not the case. Prior to this stretch, he had been struggling a bit at the plate hitting .245 and striking out quite a bit and in a recent online article in the Oregonian, they maintain that he was taken out of the lineup to "recalibrate" his approach .

In the two recent games where he HAS seen some action, he has gone one for four with two K's an a walk. That one hit was a big one though, another home run for the hard hitting DH. And no, he's not just a DH, as he saw a rare stint at first base where I am sure we'll see him a lot this summer.

In Washington, the remaining HarbourCat, catcher Zach Bonneau, has seen no action since the last update. Unfortunately for Zach, all Pac-12 starting catcher Austin Rei returned from thumb surgery on April 17th and has been on an absolute tear. Rei is leading the team in hitting at .346 and has an unworldly OPS of 1.145. Hard guy to knock out the lineup, for sure!

Finally, I don't think we'll see our UCLA third baseman, Scott Jarvis, in action this year as second ranked UCLA make a serious charge (again!) for the title and seem to be quite happy with their current lineup .

And I don't think it's just me...the Victoria weather also seems to be dreaming of baseball these days with temperatures "soaring" into the mid-20's as we anxiously await the arrival of that primal scream - "Play Ball" - in the friendly confines of of the RAP.

Only 16 more sleeps...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - final JuCo edition

Alex Rogers and Chris Fougner, the two HarbourCats who play for junior colleges ("JuCo's"), had their seasons end with an interesting twist last weekend. Rogers pitches for Trinidad State (Colorado) Junior College, while Fougner is a right fielder for Salt Lake Community College, and the two Canadians faced off in an elimination game in the Western District Tournament in Henderson, Nevada on Saturday.

"A-Rog": HarbourCats'
staff ace in 2015?
Rogers made sure that he’d hold bragging rights for the entire summer by pitching a complete-game victory and limiting the dangerous Fougner to only a double and an RBI in four at-bats. Rogers was his usual self in the big game, as he only gave up three earned runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out five. Unfortunately for Trinidad State, they were eliminated later that same day by the College of Southern Nevada.

Rogers, who won both of his playoff starts, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 75 ⅓ innings pitched. Most impressively, the Nanaimo native only walked eight batters all season against 53 strikeouts -- that’s a Greg Maddux-like 0.96 walks per nine innings. His 2015 numbers are a significant improvement on his freshman performance, so as long as his rubber arm holds out we can expect even bigger things from "A-Rog" this summer.

Fougner can be proud of his impressive freshman season with Salt Lake CC. Over his last 10 games, the former Victoria Mariners star went 8-for-32 with eight RBI to finish the season hitting .291 with three homers and 40 RBI in 189 at-bats. Those 40 runs batted in are pretty darn good for a hitter in his first season of collegiate baseball, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Fougner playing NCAA Division I baseball at some point. Hopefully the HarbourCats can find him some at-bats this summer in their star-studded outfield.

Only 17 more days until Opening Day…

  • Alex Rogers' (fraternal) twin brother Brady also plays for Trinidad State Junior College. Brady was the team's starting shortstop this spring and he hit .292 with a fabulous .443 on-base percentage in 96 at-bats. His breakout offensive performance was a huge step up from his freshman season with Colby (Kansas) Community College. I wouldn't be shocked to see the two brothers in the HarbourCats lineup at some point this season. What a great story that would be...

Monday, May 18, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - final WAC / NWAC edition

We’re less than two weeks away from the first game of the HarbourCats’ pre-season, so we’re running out of time to publish player updates. In this edition, we’ll give you the latest on the three HarbourCats who play for schools in the Western Athletic Conference (NCAA Division I) and the trio of ‘Cats who play for community colleges in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC).

The WAC regular season wrapped up this weekend and all three HarbourCats (Griffin Andreychuk, PJ Floyd and Dane Fujinaka) will move on to the WAC Tournament from May 20th-24th at Hohokam Stadium in Arizona, the spring training home of the Oakland Athletics. The winner of this tournament gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament that begins on May 29th.

A good sign: Both Griffin Andreychuk
and the weather are heating up
Griffin Andreychuk was one of the big reasons why Seattle University won six of their last eight games in the regular season to snag the top seed in the WAC Tournament. Since our last update on the Nanaimo native, Andreychuk has been tearing the cover off the ball, going 16-for-40 with three homers and 12 RBI. His white-hot finish to the regular season gives him a stellar .318 / .417 / .443 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) in 201 at-bats this year. Andreychuk ended the regular season as the team leader in batting average, on-base percentage and RBI (41), and he finished tied for the team lead in hits (64) and home runs (4). Oh, and he has reached base safely in 25 consecutive games, the second-longest streak since Seattle U returned to NCAA Division I competition in 2010. The Redhawks’ first game in the WAC Tournament will be on Thursday at 7 p.m. (opponent TBA).

The Sacramento State Hornets were picked as the preseason favourite to win the WAC, but they enter this week’s WAC Tournament as the fourth seed based on their 16-11 record in conference play. Unfortunately, the two HarbourCats who play for Sacramento State have been used sparingly of late. Junior catcher Dane Fujinaka has only appeared in a pair of games in the last two weeks and he went two-for-six to finish his disappointing regular season hitting .258 with no homers and 13 RBI in 89 at-bats. In the last seven games, PJ Floyd has only seen action as a pinch runner twice and as a pinch hitter once (he struck out). His frustrating regular season comes to an end with the freshman posting an anemic .205 / .278 / .250 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) in 88 at-bats. Floyd is expected to be used by the HarbourCats at shortstop this summer, although he has yet to appear at that position at the collegiate level and he struggled with an .867 fielding percentage for the Hornets while splitting time between second and third base. Sacramento State play their first game in the WAC Tournament on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against #5 Utah Valley University.

Meanwhile, the NWAC Super Regionals were played this weekend in various locations in Washington and Oregon and two of our HarbourCats have advanced to take part in the championship tournament from May 21st-25th at Story Field, home of the Cowlitz Black Bears.

Sophomore Jamie Umbinetti of Edmonds Community College went into a rare hitting funk during the last four games of the regular season. The normally reliable Umbinetti went 0-for-10 with a walk, but he still finished the regular season hitting .312 with two homers and 18 RBI in 109 at-bats. That performance earned him 1st Team All-NWAC North honours and the NWAC North gold glove at third base. The Tritons finished in first place in the NWAC North Region for the second year in row, bypassing the Super Regionals and earning a spot in the NWAC Championship tournament. Edmonds CC (18-6), the defending NWAC champions, play Tacoma Community College (20-5) on Thursday morning in the first game of the double-elimination tournament.

Everett Community College won their Super Regional tournament this weekend with victories over Linn-Benton Community College and Pierce College to advance to the NWAC Championship tournament. The sole HarbourCat on the Trojans, freshman pitcher/outfielder Kyle Francis, did not appear in the Super Regional. He pitched one scoreless inning on the final weekend of the regular season to give him a flattering 2.89 ERA that camouflages an ugly 1.61 WHIP in 28 innings on the hill this spring. Francis hasn't made a plate appearance since May 3rd, so he is still hitting .236 with no homers and five RBI in 55 at-bats. Everett (17-7) plays Lower Columbia (24-1) on Thursday night in their tournament opener.

Victoria native Brendan Somers went 1-for-7 at the plate for Southwestern Oregon Community College in the Tacoma Super Regional this weekend, but they were eliminated from postseason play. Somers, a sophomore DH and right fielder, finished the season with a .209 batting average with no homers and 10 RBI in 110 at-bats.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A few last-minute HarbourCat college updates before we begin

As the NCAA Div 1 regular season comes to a close, here’s a last look at some of our future HarbourCats before they don the navy, white, and teal over on Pembroke street…

Stajduhar, 19 Doubles
UNM’s Carl Stajduhar has continued to impress, winning the Mountain West conference player of the week honours. Staj went 10-16 with 12 RBI, a double, triple, and two home runs last week. The freshman is absolutely on fire to end the season – he’s close to breaking several New Mexico freshman records. With three games left to play in the season, he’s only 2 RBI shy of the freshman RBI record, set back in 2005. He also leads the Lobos with 19 doubles and 7 home runs. Coach Ray Birmingham says of Stajduhar “He's going to be a big-time draft pick in a couple years”. 

Lobos pitcher Preston Ryan hasn’t seen any action lately – his ERA has been on a steady climb over the past 3 weeks, and now sits at 5.74. That’s RAP beer-price high, he’ll be looking to improve that with more work over the summer…

Another freshman making waves this past week is Pittsburgh Panther reliever Josh Mitchell. Mitchell is currently building on a 7.2 inning scoreless streak out of the pen over the past 4 games. In 15 appearances for the Panthers this season, he’s worked his ERA down to 3.86.

Pepperdine’s Ryan Wilson has remained steady, although his record has slipped a bit with a couple tough late-season losses. He still leads the Waves with 7 wins on the season, sporting a 3.76 ERA in 76.2 innings pitched. He should see one more start before the end of the year. OF Chase Lambert will be happy to get here and see more playing time – his 69 AB the season is second lowest on the Pepperdine active roster. 

At St. Mary’s, C Jackson Thoreson continues to hit .303 for the year in 76 total AB. He should see about the same amount of time here this summer, given the ‘Cats current wealth of catchers. RHP Sean O’Toole will likely see more work that the 10.2 innings he’s had for the Angels this season, hopefully regular work will help reduce his 5.06 ERA.

A reminder the drive to the 2015 NCAA Division 1 College World Series starts next week for most schools as they begin their regional tournament. The selection show is set for May 25. Once those are complete, we will have a firm idea of who will be joining the ‘Cats to start the season, and who will be delayed while they compete in the playoff round. Stay tuned for a complete recap once all that is known.


As Gus mentioned yesterday, pitcher Alex Fagalde - whom we had been touting as a potential WCL All-Star and cornerstone of our pitching staff this year - has exceeded his pitch count for the year and will not be coming North this summer. He’s pitched 85.1 innings this season (after pitching 34.0 for Victoria last summer). I guess Cuesta College’s coach (Bob Miller) wasn’t overly concerned with Alex’s summer ball plans this year… 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HarbourCats sign seven more

It’s not a sentence we like to hear: “I have good news and I have bad news.” Personally, I like to get the bad news out of the way as quickly as possible in these situations, so let’s deal with the negative stuff first.

Three more players who were previously signed won’t be suiting up for the HarbourCats this summer. Alex Fagalde, Curtis Bafus and John Naff have all pulled out over the last few days, each with a different reason. Fagalde has exceeded his innings limit for the year with Cuesta College, Washington State University has asked Bafus to attend a summer program in Pullman, Washington, and Naff is unable to play for Victoria due to academic requirements. The loss of Fagalde really stings, since he may have been the staff ace this season. The three cancellations bring the total number of players who have backed out during this offseason to 13, a new high-water mark for the team.
Austin Guibor

But here’s the good news: The HarbourCats have signed seven more players to make up for all of the departures, and the new crop is heavy on both talent and experience.

Austin Guibor is an outfielder from the San Francisco Bay Area who is completing his sophomore season with the Fresno State Bulldogs. Guibor has compiled an impressive .331 / .435 / .484 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) so far this season. Not only can the 5-9, 185 lb. left-handed hitter get on base, but he also has some pop in his bat and has swatted four homers in 157 at-bats.
George Alamillo

The ace of HarbourCats pitching coach Alec Adame’s starting rotation at East LA College, righty George Alamillo, has also been signed. The redshirt freshman posted a fantastic 1.87 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 57 ⅔ innings pitched this spring, although he only struck out 3.8 batters per nine innings. I would expect those strikeout numbers to climb, because Alamillo struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings in his senior year at Marshall High School in Los Angeles. Alamillo had a baseball scholarship at Pepperdine University, but he was redshirted by the Waves in 2014.

Henry Omaña
Hardcore HarbourCats fans may recognize Henry Omaña, a hard-throwing reliever from Cal State Fullerton (CSF). Omaña was a workhorse for the Cowlitz Black Bears over the last two summers, as the 6-4, 225 lb. right-hander appeared in 22 (of 54) games each year. Last summer, the junior from Walnut, California had a 3.69 ERA with one save in 46 ⅓ innings. In 2013, Omaña registered a 3.99 ERA with five saves in 38 ⅓ innings pitched with the Black Bears. He has been used sparingly this spring by CSF, giving up seven earned runs in only 5 ⅓ innings on the hill, so Omaña should be fired up this summer. Don’t be surprised if he nails down the closer’s job with the HarbourCats.

Shawn Kennedy II is a right-handed pitcher with Georgetown (Ky.) College, an NAIA Division I school. The 5-11, 180 lb. junior had a 5.40 ERA and 1.76 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched this spring. Kennedy had a stellar 1.98 ERA when he pitched for Adame at East LA College in 2014. He hails from San Dimas, California, a city of 33,000 people in the San Gabriel Valley.

Dominic Topoozian
Dominic Topoozian is a junior at Fresno State. The right-handed pitcher has been used in relief by the Bulldogs after mainly starting in his two previous seasons at Fresno City College. Topoozian posted ERAs of 2.03 and 2.64 in the first two years of his collegiate career, but his ERA has ballooned to 6.00 this spring after making the jump to NCAA Division I baseball. He’s obviously capable of handling a heavy workload, because he logged a combined 190 ⅔ innings pitched in his freshman and sophomore years.

The youngest signing in the group is Josh Walker, a freshman pitcher from Grand Canyon University. The right-handed reliever, who is built like a young Pedro Martinez, has only pitched 5 ⅓ innings so far this season and he has allowed eight earned runs on five hits and three walks. Walker had an impressive senior year at Chino Hills (Ca.) High School, as he recorded a 1.05 ERA and 0.98 WHIP and struck out a Craig Kimbrel-like 14.2 batters per nine innings.

Brendan Somers
And last but not least, Victoria native Brendan Somers was signed to a 10-day contract. The former Victoria Mariner is currently a designated hitter and right fielder with Southwestern Oregon Community College, where he has notched a .214 batting average with no homers and 10 RBI in 103 at-bats so far in his sophomore season. Somers put up a solid .290 / .405 / .355 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) with El Paso Community College in 2014.

There are now 36 players on the current roster: 15 pitchers, 4 catchers, 8 infielders and 9 outfielders.

  • The team also added a pair of coaches to help out Craig Merritt and Alec Adame. Jerry Pena of East LA College was named the team’s first-ever hitting coach. Joe Meggs, son of renowned University of Washington head coach Lindsay Meggs, was named as a third assistant coach. For more information on the new coaches, check out the HarbourCats’ press release.
  • That same press release also contained information on the HarbourCats Junior Cats Camp.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - CCCAA / Big West edition

All three HarbourCats who play in the California Community College Athletic Association have now wrapped up their college seasons, so this will be our last CCCAA update of the year. However, we’ll bring you additional Big West Conference updates after this one, as there are still two weeks remaining in the NCAA Division I regular season. Now on to the updates...

Alex Fagalde
Cuesta College’s Alex Fagalde sure picked a great time to deliver his best start of the season. In the opener of a three-game playoff series against Golden West College, the sophomore right-hander threw a complete-game shutout to lead the Cougars to an 8-0 victory. Fagalde scattered eight hits on the day while he struck out eight and did not walk a single batter. Unfortunately, it was the only game that Cuesta would manage to win in the series and their season came to an abrupt end.

Earlier this week it was announced that Fagalde earned second-team honours on the all-Western State Conference team. In 85 ⅓ innings on the hill this year, he posted an excellent 2.95 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Considering that Fagalde was one of top pitchers for the HarbourCats last year, I would expect him to be one of the elite pitchers in the West Coast League this summer.

Los Angeles Mission College dropped their winner-take-all playoff game against Irvine Valley College on April 28th to end Mareno Rankin’s freshman season. The speedy outfielder went one-for-three with two walks and a run scored in that game to finish the season hitting .311 with no homers and 11 RBI in 90 at-bats. Rankin posted an impressive .452 on-base percentage in his rookie campaign and was a perfect five-for-five in stolen base attempts. This dynamic player will be a treat to watch at Royal Athletic Park this summer.

As we previously reported, sophomore centre fielder Kevin Amezquita’s season with East LA College ended on April 24th, as his team failed to advance to postseason play. Amezquita finished the regular season hitting .252 with one home run and 16 RBI in 139 at-bats. However, he led the team in walks (19) and had a robust .360 on-base percentage.

UC Davis freshman Matt Blais continues to struggle in his freshman season. The right-hander made one start and one relief appearance over the last couple of weeks, but his ERA climbed further still. In those two appearances, he gave up seven earned runs on 14 hits in seven innings on the mound, and he now has a 5.59 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 29 total innings this season. Blais has plenty of potential, so don’t be surprised if he settles down nicely this summer with the HarbourCats.

UC Irvine has dropped out of the Top 25 in the Division I baseball rankings, but they still share first place in the Big West Conference with Cal State Fullerton with two weeks to play (UC Santa Barbara is ranked 7th in Division I baseball in spite of the fact that they trail both UCI and CSF by a game in the standings). Freshman corner outfielder Adam (AJ) Alcantara has seen limited action over the last few weeks due to a leg injury, but he finally returned to the starting lineup in the last two games against Cal Poly this weekend. Over the last couple of weeks, Alcantara has gone 3-for-9 with an RBI to raise his average to .305 on the season.

Freshman right fielder Ben Polshuk of Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) has appeared in three games as a defensive replacement and pinch runner over the last couple of weeks, but he still hasn’t set foot in the batter’s box since April 11th. He’s 1-for-18 at the plate this season. The other current HarbourCat on the Cal Poly squad, freshman Austin Dondanville, has yet to make his college debut on the mound.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 Preview part 2: More of what's coming this season!

Yesterday we looked at the organizational changes around the park and some of the game-day differences you will experience this year. In today's final segment, we'll concentrate more on the fan experience... 

Here are the second five of my "Top Ten" things I’m excited to see at the park this season. 


Hipster-wear anyone?
Probably not the right word for “Ball Park” food, but it may be getting close.  First off, let’s all have a moment of silence for Bin4 Burgers leaving the park… Thank you. For no other reason than the fact that they are expanding to more locations around town ( they were probably the most successful vendor in RAP history), they have given up the reigns to the BBQ area to Floyd’s Diner. Known for their funky decor and hipster staff, it should be interesting to mix that with ball-capped baseball fans.  Perhaps there will be a HarbourCats Fedora, or a hipster touque & beard on the merch stand this year?

That’s what you’ll find in the old 3rd base side BBQ area. New to the park this year, is the 1st base BBQ area. Gone are the ugly aluminum bleachers in section 7 (right behind the main entrance and ticket booths), to be replaced with a new food area and picnic tables. Fans will see the majesty of the ballpark as soon as they enter the gates, and can stop at new food partner Fat Daddy’s Catering for some potentially game-changing culinary items. We will have to see what their final menu looks like, but the plan is for plated items like pasta, veggie options, and hopefully smoked meats. Fat Daddy’s is known for their smoked  pork and beef creations!

Apart from that, the usual fare is back – Romeos will have slightly warm pizza slices, the odd food truck will show on weekends when something bigger isn't going on around town, and the city will once again insist that they can be the only place to buy the traditional ball park frank (or anything that looks like a hot-dog). In the past, other vendors couldn't even do veggie dogs, because they look like dogs, and the city must do dogs. But they won’t do veggie dogs. Spot the issue? Beer selection will remain the same, with Spinnaker’s leading the way.

Radar Gun

“How fast was that pitch?” “Was that a Slurve?” “Darth, even you could hit that fastball.”… We won’t have to guess anymore, thanks to a brand new radar gun being installed at the park. At this time, there’s no way to get the display directly onto the video board, so watch for a separate display somewhere near the 3rd base dugout. I just hoping for something less “cheesy” than my artistic rendition here…

New Uniforms!

We saw the new road jerseys at the ownership announcement, but that’s just one set. There are a total of three new uniforms this year, replacing the complete set from the first two years. We will reserve judgement until we see them of course, but there are new hats, new logo designs (they are moving away from the HC logo as well), and a full set of new merch matching the new designs. I’m especially interested in seeing the alternate jersey set including fuzzy pants, gloves, undershirt, and shoes that make all the players look exactly like Harvey. To be unveiled on Furry Day at the Park in late June - stay tuned for that one.

I’m kidding of course. You can’t play solid defense in furry shoes.

Returning Players

Everybody loves seeing a recognizable face. In 2014, Alex Degoti was an instant fan favourite as a returnee from the HarbourCats first year and he brought a tiny bit of consistency to an otherwise inconsistent environment. This year, at least six will be returning from last year, including some top-notch talent and local favourites. Gabe Clark, Griffin Andreychuk, Preston Ryan, Alex Rogers, Alex FaGalde, and Mikey Wright are all planning to rejoin, and there may be more as the season gets closer. While fans will still need to learn a good portion of the new roster, it will be invaluable to have recognizable names in the list.

Another good point is that having players return at all means they enjoyed their time here last year and saw some real benefit. Kudos to the club for making that a priority last year, and again this year.

Ticketing System Changes

Not that I had a ton of issues with the old ticketing system, but on occasion I heard rumbles of the system being down, or not producing tickets, etc. A new system upgrade is underway and should be in place for opening day. Again not something I was concerned about last year, but know that when you sign on to pick up your game tickets this year, you should be greeted with an easier-to-use and more convenient option. It will come with all the latest bells and whistles though, including paperless ticketing with mobile device tickets, specific seat selection as before, and a mobile front-end so you can buy from your phone.

As you can see, there are plenty of positive things going on at the park, not just the same product being repackaged. Lots of thought is going into enhancing the fan experience, and I think it’s safe to say that your experience will be different this year.  At first glance, it looks like all the right things are being addressed, and different will mean better too. Like you, I can’t wait to see it all in motion opening day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Preview part 1: What's on deck for the HarbourCats season!

It’s officially a month away - the start of the 2015 West Coast League season. The Victoria HarbourCats are about to do what no baseball team has been able to do in Victoria since the 1940s – open their third consecutive season. Not the Seals, or the Capitals, Blues, Mussels or Tyees. Not since the Victoria Athletics played here for 6 seasons from 1946-1951 has our town seen the same organization take the field for a third opening day in a row.

As expected, this is the biggest year yet for the HarbourCats. For most sports teams, year three is where the fan base decides if it’s going to stick with the team. Year one is all about the thrill of the new baby, the new car smell. Pretty much a free pass, people are just happy to be at a ball game. Year two is more objective, but is still full of anticipation of seeing something better than year one, and watching it grow. Lots of new fans who may have missed it the first time around, coming out to see what all the talk is about. Your first year fans are still interested, and you’re gaining momentum with sponsors and new fans who realize you’re not just a fad.  Year three? Well now there’s expectations. Fans have sat through a couple losing seasons, and seen some moves on and off the field that have left them frustrated and scratching their heads. They want more this year, they want the organization to give back as much as they have invested in the first two years.

So the HarbourCats set out to do what most teams try to do in year three - they alter the formula slightly, shuffle the pieces around a bit, and try and build on past success while introducing something new. Keep the old fans, bring in the new - the recipe for success in the Victoria sports scene. We go into this season knowing full well that some things will change, while some things will remain the same.

What can you expect will happen in 2015? Today we look at the first five of my "Top Ten" things I’m excited to see around the park this season...

New Ownership Group

Jim, call for you on... every line actually!
I can’t start the list without getting this one out of the way. Back in the fall it seemed like the 2015 HarbourCats season was in danger when it was announced that owner John MacLean had lost the team. The danger was never really there, but thanks to some sensational press at the time, it seemed like we would be back watching Game of Thrones reruns this summer instead of baseball. Such was not the case, and it’s gotten better since then. With last month’s announcement of another ownership change – this time to a local group, that cloud can be lifted for good.

I like the local flavour, and if nothing else it makes sure that everyone in the organization from top to bottom is rowing in the same direction: Keeping HarbourCat baseball in Victoria for the long term. This is further solidified by the fact that new part-owner Jim Swanson remains the VP and GM (and part-time announcer, program seller, chief cook and bottle washer, etc.).  The HarbourCats are pretty much Jim’s third child, and he’s making sure that everything that happens at the park and beyond is done to make the team successful. It’s a tall order for anyone, but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Jim Swanson.

New Coaching Staff

Being an IT guy, I appreciate the binary nature of life in general. On or off, black or white, good or bad. I think we are in for that with the coaching staff this year. Coach Merritt is one of those guys who will either knock it out of the park, or crash and burn. We’ll see which way it goes, but one thing is for certain – it will be entertaining. The past two years, you half-expected the coaching staff to pass out and fall over down the first base line, but I don’t expect that this year. I expect animation, volatility, a few choice words overheard by the first couple of rows, and even a couple ejections. The passion should play well with the 19-21 year old's holding the gloves, and should keep the fans entertained as well. I’m hoping it turns out a binary 1…

Quinn Keeler (and the rest of the game-day team)

Ms. Keeler running the show
Does anyone even realize what Quinn Keeler does each game for the HarbourCats? She runs the place. While the rest of the management team smiles and presses flesh with fans around the park, Quinn single-handedly moves the game from inning to inning, managing the on-field and off-field antics that keep the masses interested on those long winter-like evenings. Of course she has her trusty street-team with her in tow, but it’s her show. Quinn will have more to manage this year as well, given a couple significant…

…Game-day Presentation Changes

This year will see less happening on the field, and more happening in the seating areas – meaning more fan interaction. The on-field mic and personality has been (refreshingly) removed, and has been replaced with a more dynamic in-game announcer (Dan Salmon),  who will regularly move around the park interacting with fans and announcing from places other than the stuffy booth above home plate. Expect to see additional local faces (like the recently announced Mira Laurence) as well. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but it should be a welcome change. Old favourites like the dizzy bat and RC cars will remain, while some new additions (think RC cars on steroids) should bring some big laughs. I am looking forward to seeing what Quinn and crew come up with.

Earlier Game Time – 6:30!

Last year’s convenience store tie-in with the 7:11 start time didn't really add to the experience at the park, but it certainly made for conversation. The HarbourCats had a few late nights at RAP last year, which means a few things: It gets bitterly cold some nights (cold enough that the ice cold water coming out of the bathroom faucets is actually warmer than your hands are at the time); it gets well past bed time for many Victoria fans, especially those coming from areas outside the downtown core; and the city gets a bit silly if the lights are left on past a certain point. Moving the start time to 6:30 should help with all of those problems, meaning more people in the park later in the game, enjoying the odd comeback or dominating closer performance.

Check back tomorrow for the final five items on the top ten list, focused more on the fan experience.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - NWAC edition

There is only one week remaining in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) regular season and our 2015 HarbourCats are in the thick of the action.  Edmonds Community College, the defending NWAC champions, are in first place in the North Region standings with a 17-3 record, while Everett Community College is right behind them with a 14-6 mark. Thanks to some fine work by the NWAC schedule makers, the two clubs are set to face off in a four-game showdown next weekend to close out the regular season. Now let’s get you caught up on what our future ‘Cats have been up to over the last couple of weeks.

Sophomore Jamie Umbinetti continues to be the offensive leader for Edmonds CC, although the slugger has been hitting like a mere mortal over the last couple of weeks. His 11-game hitting streak was snapped on April 26th and he has “only” gone 10-for-36 at the plate with five walks and four RBI since April 19th, but Umbinetti has still posted an incredible .340 / .519 / .468 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) in 99 at-bats this season.

Zander Clouse made his first appearance for Bellevue College today since his 7-inning no-hitter on April 25th. Clouse proved that he is human after all by giving up four earned runs on seven hits in seven innings of work against those pesky Canadian hitters from Douglas College. He struck out five and walked one on the afternoon to keep his strikeout-to-walk ratio in excess of 3:1 and he still boasts a splendid 2.26 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 63 ⅔ innings pitched this season.
Curtis Bafus

Curtis Bafus has made one start and one relief appearance for Everett CC over the last two weeks. The 6-7, 230 lb. right hander gave up a combined three earned runs on nine hits in six innings on the hill while striking out six and not walking a single batter. Bafus has put up a 3.20 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 39 ⅓ innings pitched this season -- a solid performance in his freshman year. He looks like he could put up some excellent numbers for the HarbourCats this summer.

Everett CC’s John Naff has cooled off with the bat of late. The sophomore has gone 4-for-21 at the plate over the last couple of weeks to lower his batting average to .248. Although that average is below expectations for Naff, he has still managed to reach base at a .359 clip and walk more often than he has struck out (19 BB’s versus 11 K’s).

Freshman pitcher/outfielder Kyle Francis has made a trio of relief appearances for Everett CC over the last couple of weeks after a three-week absence from the pitching mound. Francis, who has battled control issues all season, gave up one earned run on three hits in 3 ⅓ innings pitched while striking out three and walking two batters in those three games. For the season, the right-hander has a flattering 3.00 ERA to go along with a nasty 1.59 WHIP in 27 innings pitched. Francis has gone 3-for-14 at the plate over the last two weeks and he’s hitting .236 with no homers and five RBI in 55 at-bats for the season.

  • The HarbourCats have hired Mira Laurence, a former Senior Sports Anchor with CTV Vancouver Island, to work in a community relations and marketing capacity. Laurence will perform similar duties for the Victoria Grizzlies, one of the three local sports teams that includes John Wilson in its ownership group (the HarbourCats and the Peninsula Panthers are the others). It’s safe to say that we will likely see more sharing of resources between Wilson’s sporting enterprises in the future.
  • According to the latest projections from D1BASEBALL.COM, only three teams with 2015 HarbourCats on it are expected to qualify for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament that begins on May 29th and concludes with the College World Series finale on June 24th. UCLA (Scott Jarvis), Oregon State (Gabe Clark, Michael Gretler) and UC Irvine (A.J. Alcantara) are projected qualifiers for the field of 64, but there are usually a few surprises each year. We’ll have more tournament updates on the blog as we get closer to the end of the NCAA Division I regular season on May 23rd.
  • Freshman infielder PJ Floyd has continued to struggle in his freshman season with the Sacramento State Hornets. Over the last four weeks, Floyd has split his time between third base and left field, but he has only gone 2-for-25 with one RBI at the plate. He has put up an anemic .207 / .281 / .253 slash line (BA / OBP / SLG) in 87 at-bats this season. On the positive side, his defensive work has finally settled down, but he still sports a troublesome .867 fielding percentage.  
  • Junior Dane Fujinaka has seen more playing time behind the plate for Sacramento State over the last month, but unfortunately his bat has gone ice cold. Fujinaka is 6-for-41 with a pair of RBI in that time. For the season, he’s hitting .253 with no homers and 13 RBI in 83 at-bats.