If you were at RAP on Thursday night, you got to see Claire Eccles pitch another inning for the HarbourCats. Every time she pitches it seems the same thing happens – the park goes deadly silent and the crowd hangs on every pitch. It’s like nobody wants to cheer to disturb her intense concentration or jinx outs from happening. Me personally, I find I’m silently rooting for her on every pitch. It’s like I find myself out there with her, just willing the ball away from opposing bats. It’s such a special thing to see her on the mound, I find myself mesmerized by the moment more than anything. It’s a real highlight of any night for sure…
So what kinds of things get other folks fired up at HarbourCats games? Well how about if we asked someone who’s been a part of pretty much every significant moment in HarbourCat history so far, HarbourCats General Manager Brad Norris-Jones. So as a special weekend feature a bit out of the ordinary, we are sitting down with Brad to talk about his top-ten HarbourCat moments.
Except this is Brad we are talking about, and not being one to follow the rules exactly, he’s telling us his top twelve such moments. We’ll break them into two parts – so here are entries 12-6, stay tuned tomorrow for the top five!
Back to Back 19 and 17 run games against Kitsap (July 1&2, 2014)
Canada Day 2014 the HarbourCats explode for 19 runs on a 4-4 performance by Hunter Mercado-Hood, and six hit batters by Blue Jacket pitchers winning 19-2. They follow that drubbing up with an equally impressive 17-3 beating behind 4-4 days by DH Sean Watkins and LF Wyler Smith.
“This was real next-level stuff” says Norris-Jones. “Probably our best team ever, they had the talent to be dominant, and those games proved it to everyone that Victoria was a team that could put that together. The owner of Kitsap was there that night and he came up to me and he knew Victoria was going to be a next-level organization”.
Crazy George Night (June 7/8 2016)
“He was such a great entertainer that was new and fresh for Victoria. I had so many comments from our older fans who thought it was the greatest thing. He’s a great person, and this was such a fan favourite. Of course everyone under 30 thought he actually was crazy…”.
Gabe Clark’s three-home run game vs. Klamath Falls (July 18, 2014)
Another huge output game for the HarbourCats at home against the Gems where future Toronto Blue Jay draftee Gabe Clark hits three balls out in a 14-8 win. He actually came close to hitting 4 out, as he had one hit the top of the fence and come back into the field for a double…
“That game showed a lot of fans what great ball this was. Gabe was a true collegiate star. He was one of the best and arguably the best home run hitter we have ever had. That was a great display of baseball”.
P.J. Floyd’s 4 Home-runs against Nanaimo (July 2014 and 2015)
In an exhibition game up island against the Pirates, fan favourite PJ Floyd doubles the cost of the road-trip by sending 4 balls over the fence in a HarbourCat win.
“There’s a story here. PJ Hit three home runs in 2014, and then one in his first at-bat there in 2015 – so 4 home runs in 4 at bats. If you’ve been to Nanaimo, the [right field] fence is tall, like two-thirds of the way up our foul pole. He didn’t just land them over, he crushed those balls. Like in the 400-410 foot mark. One went right-center that was even longer. P.J was a legitimate power hitter, you couldn’t put a fastball by him”.
Dalton Erb’s near-perfect game, home opener, June 7, 2016
Four days before he was drafted by the San Diego Padres, Erb pitched his only game as a Victoria HarbourCat, showing the magic that MLB scouts had been talking about all spring. Erb took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before giving up a single hit. He completed the inning and ended the night going 8.0, giving up 1 hit, 1 walk, and 13 Ks.
“That was just a special night. That was probably the most dominant pitching performance ever in league history. We all knew he was going, we just wanted to see him pitch at home before he left. We didn’t start him in the first series [on the road], so he was ready to go”.
Nick Pivetta’s start on opening day 2013 (June 5, 2013)
Current Philadelphia Phillies starter and local Victoria boy Nick Pivetta started the HarbourCats existence off with a masterful start against the Kelowna. Not his greatest pitching performance, Pivetta gave up 6 runs on 8 hits over 8 complete innings. It was enough for the win though as Victoria pushed enough across to win 8-6. Pivetta would pitch only one more game before leaving to join the Phillies organization.
“That was special for a lot of different reasons. I had coached Nick when he was a kid, and both my sons had caught for him, Kaelin as a kid, and Kelly with team Canada. We all knew he was getting drafted and was going to sign, and he didn’t have to play for us at all, but he wanted to and did us a favour. I’ve known Nick so long, it was special to see him out there before he left”.
Claire Eccles’ first recorded out (June 7, 2017)
In an event that everyone in Victoria and across baseball was waiting to see, Claire Eccles came to the mound in the 8th inning against the Wenatchee Apple Sox to the huge applause of the Victoria crowd. After a 4-pitch walk to the first batter Dugan Shire and two more to 2B Parker Price (including a wild pitch), Price hit a ball right back up the middle that Eccles snagged and threw to first base for the out.
“The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame wanted the first ball, so [after a few anxious moments before a Wenatchee player retrieved the first ball that had skipped past catcher Kekai Rios] I grabbed it and came back [to the concourse]. I’m standing there watching ball 2, ball 3, ball 4. And I’m thinking I can’t watch this, I gotta go watch [the go-live TV feed behind the concession]. Ball 5, ball 6 and I’m thinking what have I done to this young lady – and I’m thinking my neck is on the line here too… All of a sudden pitch 7 was a strike, and now I’m breathing again. Pitch 8, one hopper back to Claire and she turned and froze the guy at second, and threw a pea to first. At that point, I’m not kidding, I jumped 20 feet in the air. When she got that out, that was the happiest single baseball moment I’ve ever had”.
All those magic moments, and we still have 5 to go! Tomorrow we get Brad’s top-5 HarbourCat moments…