Bellingham series recap, close but no post-season dip

And just like that, the Victoria HarbourCats season is in the books. A historic season it was, with some ups, some downs, lots of excitement, and some remorse. We’ll get to all of that soon – watch this week for some exciting year-end features including a season recap, a final Coaches’ Corner with Graig Merritt, some exit interviews, and a couple other interesting posts before we finally wrap a bow around the 2015 HarbourCats season.

Before we do that though, let’s bring you up to speed on the last series…

A three game set against the Division-leading Bellingham Bells with a possible post season berth on the line was off to a great start with a solid 9-2 victory Friday night, was then quickly snuffed out Saturday when Corvalis beat Medford and Victoria lost 4-3, and Sunday’s final game ended the season on a high note with a 6-4 extra-inning victory.

The Dominator, once again, dominating...

The Dominator, once again, dominating…

Friday’s 9-2 game was the exclamation point on an outstanding season by Dominic Topoozian, who won his sixth game of the year, and third in a row in what was his most dominant start of the season. Topoozian pitched 7.0 innings of 5-hit, 1 walk, shutout ball, striking out 8. Reliever Shawn Andersen finished the game and gave up a run in each of two innings, but it was too little too late for the Bells. Oh and don’t believe the boxscore for a moment, Jackson Thoreson did not pitch in the game.

Offensively, the game was in the bag early thanks to a 2-run first, and a 4-run second. Once again the top of the order came through – Kevin Collard (3H, 4R, 2RBI), Griffin Andreychuk (2H, 2R, 1RBI), AJ Alcantara (2H, 2 RBI), and Austin Guibor (1H, 3RBI) all had outstanding games, as did Michael Gretler who got the start at 1B, and the not-so-hot corner really worked well for him, as he went 2-1 with an RBI.

Hey Griff, next year, get here sooner!

Hey Griff, next year, get here sooner!

Saturday’s 4-3 loss was tough. A pitcher’s duel that saw Bellingham starter Grant Schneider hold Victoria batters without a hit through the first 5 before a AJ Alcantara single chased him from the game (tough way to leave!). A walked Griffin Andreychuk would score 2 batters later on another bases-loaded walk. With the lead, Cats starter Austin Dondanville took the mound in the bottom of 6, only to give up a walk and a hit batter, both of whom came around to score and give the Bells the lead. The usually sure Tei Vanderford took over to start the seventh and caused irreparable damage, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 more runs while only retiring a single batter. From there Sean O’Toole and Josh Walker no-hit the Bells the rest of the way, but the damage was done.

The game was made close in the top of the ninth, as once again Griffin Andreychuk came through when he was needed with a 2-run HR to make the game close, but Austin Guibor struck out to end the game.

Not that it mattered – about the time Andreychuk was rounding the bases to make it close, Corvalis was celebrating on the mound down at Goss Stadium after beating Medford 7-4. The post-season dream ended right there.

Matt Blaise, finishing it off

Matt Blaise, finishing it off

With pride on the line Sunday, Victoria was back with Matt Blaise on the mound. The last game of the year saw six different Victoria pitchers take the mound, with Blaise going 4 strong shutout innings before giving way to Brett Irvine, Mikey Wright, Sean O’Toole, and Calvin Christianson for an inning each. Christianson gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk, including a HR to Cats-killer Walker Olis (his second of the series, 5th of the year against Victoria pitching) that gave up Victoria’s 4-run lead and forced an extra inning. Sean Kennedy pitched the 9th and 10th innings, and picked up the win after a throwing error allowed Alex Degoti to score and Michael Gretler to reach first, and later come around to score.

A series victory and a high note to end the season, yet a solemn last trip home after a long season comes to an abrupt end.

Friday night, one of Collard’s hits was his 7th HR of the year, leaving him one shy of the HarbourCat record 8, set last year by Gabe Clark. Andreychuk’s HR on Saturday gave him 5 on the year, tied with PJ Floyd. Andreychuk finished with a team-leading .385 average, which would have been good enough for the WCL batting title if he had played enough games, and ties him with Hunter Mercado-Hood for the all-time lead in that stat. Way to go Griffin! Next year, let’s get here a little earlier shall we…

So that’s the last recap of the year. Season recaps later this week, stay tuned!

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About Brian

Avid baseball blogger since June 2012. Blogger, photographer, and graphics designer for both the defunct Victoria Seals Baseball Blog, and the first edition of the Victoria HarbourCats blog.
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