August 3, 2017 - West Coast League (WCL) - Victoria HabourCats
Victoria, BC - In the final home game of the season for the Victoria HarbourCats and one that had huge playoff implications in the West Coast League North Division, the Bellingham Bells would bust open a tense 2-2 tie with four runs in the top of the ninth inning, to escape with a 6-2 win over the HarbourCats in front of just over 3,000 fans at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The Bells win keeps their North Division playoff hopes alive, as they now move into a tie with the Wenatchee AppleSox for second place in the North, both teams now just a half game behind the (still in) first place HarbourCats.
The AppleSox were once again idle on Wednesday and could only scoreboard watch, as continuing heat and air quality issues in the Wenatchee Valley (due to smoke from BC forest fires), forced cancellation of the scheduled double-header with Corvallis. That double-header will now be played in Yakima, at the Yakima College Yaks field, at 11:00 AM on Thursday morning. The third game in that series will now be played, if it is needed to decide the Division winner, on Monday in Wenatchee.
The Bells ninth inning rally came off normally reliable HarbourCats closer Travis Kuhn, who after pitcher Cole Masik walked Brendan McClary to start the inning, gave up a single to Austin Shenton, an RBI single to Chase Illig, his third hit of the evening, and then a two-RBI double to Max Flower. A sacrifice fly capped the inning and put the Bells up 6-2.
That was enough for the Bells top closer Josh Zavisubin to come in and retire the HarbourCats in order in the bottom of the inning to close out the key win.
The late HarbourCats collapse ruined what was some great pitching from starter Wyatt Boone, who flirted with danger every inning, but managed to keep the Bells scoreless after four innings of play and thanks to a run by the HarbourCats in the bottom of the fourth, left the game with a 1-0 lead.
That lead did not last long, as the Bells, thanks to a two-run, opposite field home run from Shenton off HarbourCats reliever Dylan Thorp, jumped back in front 2-1.
A solo home run from HarbourCats 2017 MVP Shane McGuire in the bottom of the inning would get the Cats right back into it and then some great relief pitching on both sides, including scoreless innings from HarbourCats reliever Garinder Sarana, Stephen Wade and Mikey Musselwhite would take the game into the pivotal ninth inning tied 2-2 and set the stage for the Bells' late heroics.
The Bells two, three and four hitters - McClary, Shenton and Illig - did the bulk of the damage to the HarbourCats Wednesday, notching three hits each and scoring five of the six Bellingham runs. McGuire was the only multi-hit player for the HarbourCats adding an earlier single to his home run.
The Bells Keenan Lum, who held the 'Cats to a walk and a hit over two innings of work, gets the win in relief, while Cole Masik, who was responsible for walking the eventual winning run, takes the loss for Victoria.