Yesterday’s game one between the Bells and HarbourCats went pretty much exactly as planned… Two excellent pitchers dueling into the evening with nether giving an inch. Austin Dondanville and Jon Olsen both got past some early jitters and settled into a battle royale that lasted until both were out of the game. Olsen got the better outcome, as the Bells scored late to take the game 3-2. The Bell’s ace was excellent through 7.1 innings giving up only six hits while walking none.
He was also a bit fortunate to leave with the lead…In the top of the fourth inning, Tommy Jew stood on first after a 1-out single. With a 3-1 count on C Riley Guntrip, Jew took off for second on a steal attempt. Bells catcher David Banuelos had called a pitch-out on the play anticipating the move and Jew was a sitting duck, tagged out trying to return to first by HR derby champ Jake Vieth. Of course as the baseball gods would have it, Guntrip would then lace a double to the wall that would have easily scored Jew on the play. That would have put Victoria up 3-2 at the time, and significantly changed the complexion of the game.
As expected, Cameron Schneider was the first out of the pen for Victoria and pitched himself into and then out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth, before putting two more on in the seventh. Greg Casper came into the game looking for a key strikeout but ended up giving up the hit that brought in the eventual winning third run. It was the only blemish in his 1.2 innings of work, but it was enough to give Bellingham the lead for good.
Game 2 Preview
So let’s stop dwelling on the past and what could have happened shall we? Tonight’s game 2 back in Victoria should be a much different experience for both teams. While the 1,558 fans in Bellingham last night provided some noisy support for their home team, it will be nothing like tonight’s crowd at RAP that could get close to 5,000.
As mentioned in the series preview, we have another unknown pitching match-up tonight for both teams. Victoria brings 7-game winner Josh Mitchell to the mound, while Bellingham responds with 6 foot 9 inch right-hander Tyler Palm. Neither pitcher started a game in the two regular season series, and Mitchell faced only a single batter in relief. Both teams will have to rely on scouting reports tonight.
Palm performed in 9 games for the Bells this season, starting 6 of them. He brings a 1-1 record and a 2.07 ERA to the hill. Despite the lack of decisions on his record, Bellingham ended up 7-2 in games he pitched. A Oakland University senior, Palm started 11 games for the Golden Grizzlies this year, sporting a 4-5 record with a 4.29 ERA. He threw 63 innings, striking out 37 while holding opponents to a .246 batting average. He has maintained those numbers in his summer work, striking out 25 in 39 innings pitched, holding batters to a bit higher .264.
On the home side, Mitchell has been a true workhorse for the HarbourCats this season. His 62.2 innings pitched is the highest on the staff. He strikes out more batters than he allows on base (51 hits and 9 walks, against 61 Ks), and he throws 2.4 strikes for every ball. Oh and Victoria is 12-1 in games Mitchell pitches in.
Around those two, don’t expect to see many changes tonight. Seven different HarbourCat batters picked up a hit last night, while nobody had more than 1. Ben Polshuk had the only 2 RBI, and Guntrip’s double was the only extra-base hit on the night. For Bellingham, SS Chase Strumpf and 2B Gunnar Schubert had two hits each, and DH Dean Lawson continued his excellent play against Victoria going 1-1 while drawing 3 walks.
Listening to the game last night from Bellingham, these two teams are really close in many respects – from the way the team was put together, to the team management style, to the club’s desire to win. This is a series meant to go the distance to crown a winner – let’s hope Victoria holds up it’s end of the deal tonight and knots the series at 1-1!
- Don’t forget to wish HarbourCat owner and Managing Partner Jim Swanson a very happy birthday tonight. Not much of a secret what he’s hoping to get for it either – about 5,000 of his closest friends saying “See you tomorrow for game 3!”.