Victoria HarbourCats teammates Indigo Diaz, left, Jack Owen, Hunter Vansau and Adam McKillican are heading to the West Coast League’s all-star game next week in Yakima, Wash. They were decked out in their retro Victoria Mussels minor league uniforms for Tuesday night’s game at Royal Athletic Park against Yakima Valley. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Victoria’s Fab Four off to West Coast League all-star game

Newcomers making a big impact for HarbourCats in second half of WCL season

Hunter Vansau has put on a lot of miles playing baseball over the past year.

The Victoria HarbourCats outfielder hails from Crawford, Texas, plays collegiate ball for Misissippi State University in the NCAA’s Southeast Conference and suited up last summer in the Alaska Baseball League for the Chugiak Chinooks.

He spent a fair bit of time on the road with MSU in late spring, too, helping the Bulldogs reach last month’s NCAA Super Regional tournament in Lousiana. Having joined the HarbourCats in time for a late June series against Walla Walla, he’s made the most of his short time in Victoria.

On Monday he was not only named the West Coast League’s player of the week, for batting .524 with three homers and 12 runs batted in, he is one of four HarbourCats named to the North Division team for next week’s WCL All-Star Game.

“Just playing the game for coach [Brian] McRae has been a lot of fun for me,” Vansau said. “I’ve learned a lot from him over the last couple of weeks. It’s not often you get a chance to pick a Major Leaguer’s brain.”

Appreciative of being able to focus solely on baseball and not have to balance that with academics – he’s a finance major heading into his senior year at MSU – the left-handed batting Vansau noted he hasn’t changed much about his approach at the plate. In his first 14 games, he hit .424 (20-for-47) with four homers, 18 RBI and four stolen bases.

“I want to say I haven’t really changed my approach much, but I’ve been hitting the fastball and putting myself in good counts to hit. I don’t know what’s different, but I’m really enjoying the results.”

Nearly two weeks into the second half of the WCL season, the HarbourCats are looking to build their momentum on the field. A three-game sweep of first-half winner Kelowna last week is the kind of success Vansau and his mates would like to see more of as the summer moves along.

Victoria pitchers pad North Division all-star staff

Joining Vansau at next Tuesday’s (July 18) all-star game in Yakima are starting pitchers Adam McKillican (Courtenay, UBC) and Jack Owen (Coto de Caza, Calif.; Auburn) and second-year HarbourCats reliever Indigo Diaz (North Vancouver, Iowa Western Comm. College).

Victoria ace McKillican, already a two-time WCL pitcher-of-the-week winner, began this week with a perfect 4-0 record in five starts and a 1.84 earned-run average. A relatively recent addition to the HarbourCats staff, Owen is off to a fast start in the WCL, going 3-0 in his first four starts and crafting an overall ERA of 1.06, with 27 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched.

Late-inning fireballer Diaz, whose fastball hits the low 90s, had racked up 23 strikeouts in 17.1 innings to start this week.

Coming off a three-game home set against Yakima Valley, Victoria plays a pair of exhibitions this weekend (July 15 and 16) against the Burnaby Bulldogs of the Pacific International League. Game times are 6:35 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Royal Athletic Park.

editor@vicnews.com

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