Joshua Won wasn’t overly satisfied with his honorary opening pitch Wednesday morning to start the annual Victoria HarbourCats’ school field-trip game at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
“I was really nervous and it was high and up,” said the Grade 6 student at Glanford Middle School, who pitches for Lakehill in youth baseball.
Won did just fine in throwing out the first pitch, with retiring Glanford teacher Derek Brooker, amid the high-pitched din created by 5,008 fans, most of them students from local schools.
The annual game has become a yearly burst of sheer exuberance, with what’s happening in the stands, overshadowing what happens on the diamond. It’s hard for the HarbourCats not to get carried away by the moment.
“It’s a great atmosphere and it really helped us play better as a team today,” said HarbourCats player Ryan Magdic.
“It was really exciting and gave us a big lift.”
All the way to an 11-1 victory over Walla Walla as unbeaten Victoria moved to 6-0 and the winless Sweets fell to 0-6.
Third-baseman Jack Johnson, out of the NCAA Big 12 Conference Baylor University Bears, had two hits, including a triple, and four RBIs to lead the Victoria offence. Marco Pirruccello from NCAA Fresno State had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored. Another Fresno State slugger, Tyler Davis, added four hits.
Perhaps inspired by Won and Brooker, reliever Josh Berenbaum of Richmond took the win by allowing one hit with three strikeouts over two innings of work. Starter Jack Seward kept a clean scoreline over four complete innings with four hits allowed and two strikeouts and one walk to please the large gallery of students, who spilled over well into the soccer grandstand.
Glanford teacher Wendy Kidd said many of the students at her school come from immigrant families not familiar with the sport: “A lot of our students have never seen a live baseball game before this and are really excited to be here.”
It was also the first baseball game for Grade 3 Cathedral School student Enno Kopperud-Gabriel, who has lived in Bangkok and Singapore.
“I am really enjoying it,” he said.
It was also a first for Cathedral School teacher Sarah Fryer, who hails from England, and is more of a cricket fan.
“We had a game called rounders back home,” she said, as she learned along with her students.
“We talked about baseball before we came and ran a video about the rules.”
Cathedral School does a lot of outdoor education and baseball qualifies in a sense.
“This is a nice end-of-year outing for our students,” said Fryer.
“What the students have really been impressed by is how far and how high the ball flies in the air after being hit.”
The HarbourCats have certainly done a lot of hitting in starting the season with two consecutive three-game home sweeps against the Kamloops NorthPaws and Sweets.
Victoria embarks on its first road trip with six games in Washington state, launching with a three-game set starting Friday night in Wenatchee against the Apple Sox and continuing with a three-game series beginning Monday in Port Angeles against the Lefties.