Baby blues that is.
Sporting their good-luck baby blue third jerseys, the Victoria HarbourCats played their way into the West Coast League final Thursday night by beating the Wenatchee AppleSox 8-7 in a thrilling third-and-deciding game of the North Division championship series at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The HarbourCats will now host the South Division winners and defending champion Corvallis Knights in Game 1 of the best-of-three league final tonight at Royal Athletic Park. Game 2 goes Saturday in Corvallis, Oregon, with Game 3, if needed, Sunday in Corvallis.
It’s the second time in three years Victoria has made the WCL final. The Knights beat the HarbourCats to win the 2017 playoff title.
The usually potent HarbourCats’ offence took a while to get going on Thursday in front of 2,019 boisterous fans chanting: “We don’t lose in baby blues!” But with the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning and HarbourCats on the corners, big Nick Adams from Yavapai College in Arizona stepped to the plate and promptly belted a Gavin Gorrell offering over the left-centre field wall to give Victoria a 5-2 lead.
Wenatchee, which posted a 17-10 record in the second half of the season to secure a post-season berth, wouldn’t go quietly. Brett Gillis, Tyler Hilton and Tanner Smith all had RBIs in a four-run top of the ninth for Wenatchee that put the heat on the North Division regular-season champs.
But all-star Nick Plaia and the ’Cats love the heat.
Plaia led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and was followed by a walk to Gus Wilson. After Griffin Paxton brought home a run with a single, Plaia’s teammate at Cal Baptist, Harrison Spohn, stepped up and walked off the win with a two-RBI single off reliever Gillis to send Victoria back to the WCL final.
Mitch Lines out of Lower Columbia College got the start on the hill for the HarbourCats and went four innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out seven.
In the South Division final, the Knights beat the Walla Walla Sweets 6-2 in the Game 3 to advance to their fourth straight league final.