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Gonzalez stakes his claim on roster as HarbourCats ready to meet Wenatchee

Roberto Gonzalez was given a chance to showcase himself in exhibition baseball games over the weekend and the newest member of the Victoria HabourCats seized the opportunity with a standout display.
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Plenty of surpises on the WCL diamonds this season. TIMES COLONIST

Roberto Gonzalez was given a chance to showcase himself in exhibition baseball games over the weekend and the newest member of the Victoria HabourCats seized the opportunity with a standout display.

The HarbourCats took two of three games in the non-league set against the senior ­Coquitlam Angels despite resting ­several of their day-to-day players. The games count for real again, beginning tonight, with the start of a three-game West Coast League set against the Wenatchee AppleSox (5-10) at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

Newcomer Gonzalez, who plays NCAA Div. 1 for University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, will add another dimension to the HarbourCats (7-7 in league). Another new addition, Jesse Brown, was also given the chance to stretch his legs in the exhibitions and showed well.

“It was a great opportunity for them to acclimatize to Victoria and to wood bats, and they really showed their athleticism and why they have successful college careers, and will fit in with the culture we are building here,” said HarbourCats head coach Todd Haney.

The six-foot-three Gonzalez is a native of Caracas, Venezuela, and resident of Houston, Texas, and was name a Southland Conference second-team all-star as he amassed hitting streaks of 17 and 12 games in this past junior season and led the Cardinals with 70 hits, 37 RBIs, 13 doubles and four triples while hitting in 45 of his 52 games.

Haney, a former MLB infielder, said Gonzalez also excels on defence: “He is very athletic and was fantastic on the weekend and will be an assest to our infield.”

The HarbourCats are three games behind the North ­Division-leading Bellingham Bells (10-4) with 13 games remaining in the first-half race.

“We’re in great position to make a run now,” said Haney.

Haney guided his team to the third-best all-time league regular season record at 39-15 in 2019, the last season in which Victoria played before the pandemic wiped out the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and to within one game of the WCL playoff title before losing to the Corvallis Knights.

“Everybody understands the expectations here, which are the playoffs,” said Haney.

Meanwhile, the Nanaimo NightOwls (6-8) began a set against the fellow-expansion Kamloops NorthPaws (9-7), which continues tonight and Wednesday at Serauxmen­ ­Stadium.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com