AppleSox quickly put HarbourCats on the ropes

The Victoria HarbourCats discovered Tuesday night that regular-season trends don’t amount to a heap of used baseball equipment in the playoffs.

The HarbourCats entered the West Coast League post-season on an eight-game winning streak and the Wenatchee AppleSox on a four-game losing skid.

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The second-seed Apple Sox, however, got the jump on the top-seed HarbourCats with a 5-1 victory in the opening game of their best-of-three North Division championship series in central Washington state.

The second game is tonight at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park. A third game, if required, would also be at Royal Athletic Park on Thursday evening.

The HarbourCats’ potent bats — which accounted for WCL single-season records for most runs, hits, RBIs and homers — fell silent in the face of Wenatchee’s shut-down pitching.

AppleSox starter Jake Saum, a high school graduate this spring headed to the NCAA Pac-12 with the UCLA Bruins, held Victoria to four hits and no runs with 10 strikeouts over seven full innings.

The HarboutCats did not get on the board until an RBI double by Harrison Spohn scored Griffin Paxton in the top of the ninth inning.

Victoria starter Dakota Hawkins — 1-1 with a .312 ERA and 23 strikeouts against five walks in 312Ú3 innings pitched in the regular season — was touched for five hits and five earned runs by Wenatchee in 32Ú3 innings of work Tuesday.

The HarbourCats (39-15 overall in the regular season) won the North Division first-half title and playoff berth that goes with it. Victoria, which fell one win shy of the 2016 franchise record of 40, also won the second-half and overall division titles.

The AppleSox (29-25), the second-half and overall runners-up in the North, got the other divisional playoff berth.

Victoria is making its third playoff appearance in four seasons and reached the league final in 2017, losing 2-1 in games to the eventual-champion Corvallis Knights. The AppleSox played their first playoff game since 2013.

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