Pitcher Mike Musselwhite, a Lambrick Park secondary alumnus, throws in relief for the Victoria HarbourCats in West Coast League playoff action Tuesday at Royal Athletic Park. He closed out an 8-2 Victoria win over Kelowna in game 1 with two shutout innings. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Victoria strikes first in WCL baseball playoffs

HarbourCats down Falcons 8-2 in North Division opener, can clinch series in Kelowna tomorrow

Back-to-back sixth-inning home runs by Harrison Bragg and D.J. Porter broke open a tight game Tuesday and helped carry the Victoria HarbourCats to an 8-2 home win over Kelowna in game 1 of the teams’ West Coast League North Division playoff semifinals series.

For Bragg, the massive two-run shot to left field off Falcons starter Cal Hehnke was his third home run in the past two games, following the two bombs he hit in a Sunday’s 17-16 loss in Port Angeles. He finished with two hits Tuesday night.

The win gives the Cats the edge heading back to Kelowna for game 2 tomorrow night (Aug. 9). Game 3, if necessary, would be played there on Thursday.

Should the HarbourCats win the series, Victoria fans would see more home games in the WCL final against the South Division winner. Yakima Valley beat Corvallis 9-3 in the other semifinal opener.

Ethan Fox, who scattered three hits over four innings of relief as Victoria’s third pitcher of the night, picked up the win on the mound. Lambrick Park secondary product, lefty Mike Musselwhite, finished things up throwing two strong innings and allowing just one base runner.

HarbourCats starter Garrison Ritter allowed just one hit – a solo homer by Kade Hall – over three innings, but struggled with control and gave up both runs. Reliever Cole Masik wasn’t the answer either, walking all three batters he faced, which opened the door for Fox to shut the door.

Victoria totalled 11 hits on the night, with Hunter Vansau, Kevin Collard, Andrew Schaps and Po-Hao Huang also collecting a pair.

The locals made Kelowna reliever Ryan Smith pay in the seventh, scoring twice on two hits and three walks, one of which came with the bases loaded.

Alex McGarry led the Falcons with two hits.

editor@vicnews.com