By Christian J. Stewart
The Victoria HarbourCats have set a new West Coast League (WCL) record for wins in a season after they drubbed the Yakima Valley Pippins 11-4 Sunday afternoon in the season finale for both teams in front of 2,506 fans at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The win moves the HarbourCats 2016 record to 40-14 and surpasses the previous win total of 39 set by the 2011 Wenatchee AppleSox. Sunday’s attendance also pushed the HarbourCats season total to 60,466 for the season, also a new WCL record.
Leading the way Sunday for the HarbourCats were a trio of players with multiple hit games including Brad Pluschkell with three hits, including a home run and three runs scored, Griffin Andreychuk with two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored and Ben Polshuk with two hits, two RBIs and a run scored.
The HarbourCats would make it known early that they were gunning for win 40 as they scored four runs off Yakima starter Zach Haggett in their very first at bats, keyed by a two-RBI double from Polshuk and an RBI-single from Ryan Anderson.
They would add another in the second to hold a 5-0 lead before Yakima would finally get to Victoria starter Kyle Mora for four runs in the top of the fourth, highlighted by a two-run home run from Jay Schuyler.
After Mora kept the Pippins from causing any further damage in the top of the fifth, Indigo Diaz came on for the sixth and did the same and then watched as the HarbourCats broke the game open with another four runs in the bottom of the frame, keyed by two-RBI singles each from Andreychuk and Polshuk.
A solo home run from Pluschkell in the bottom of the seventh made it 11-4 and then it was left to Diaz, who pitched into the eighth, Matt Lautz who pitched in the eighth and ninth and closer Colin Ashworth, who came in with one out in the ninth, to shut it down and secure the win.
The HarbourCats hit the road to Bellingham on Tuesday for Game 1 of the North Divisional Series against the Bells. They are back Wednesday night for the first baseball playoff game at this level in almost 50 years, as they host the Bells in Game 2 of the series.