Don’t count the Victoria HarbourCats out just yet.
With their West Coast League playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the HarbourCats returned from a lengthy road trip Monday to start their final homestand on a winning note. Victoria got six shutout innings from starter Gunner Friend to pave the way to a 4-2 win over the Portland Pickles in front of 4,113 fans on Fireworks Night at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The victory moved the HarbourCats (12-13 in the second half) into a logjam for the North Division’s final playoff spot. Four teams — Victoria, Wenatchee, Kelowna and Yakima Valley — all have overall records of 26-26. The Bellingam Bells, winners of the first-half North Division title and automatic playoff berth, also lead the second-half race by a half-game over Yakima. If the Bells win the second half, the North Division team with the next best overall record would claim the division’s final playoff spot.
On Monday, outfielder Hunter Vansau sparked the HarbourCats’ attack with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Victoria’s Rowdey Jordan finished the night 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
Friend (3-2), out of Avila College in Kansas City, Missouri, went six innings, allowing three hits and striking out three. Lawson Humphries was tagged with two earned runs in two innings of work before closer Tyler Yoshihara came in to close the door on the Pickles and pick up the save.
Game 2 of the three-game set goes tonight at Wilson’s Group Stadium, before the regular season wraps up on Wednesday night.