VICTORIA, B.C. – Victoria scored two runs in the last of the ninth to edge Corvallis 5-4 in Game 1 of the West Coast League Championship Series.
A leadoff walk, a single, a sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and a single off relievers Hazahel Quijada and Jordan Qsar plated two runs for Victoria, erasing a 4-3 Knights’ advantage.
Game 2 is set for 6:40 p.m. Monday at Goss Stadium. Game 3, if necessary, would be at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, also at Goss Stadium.
Dillan Shrum doubled twice, Elliot Willy hit a solo homer and Matt Kelly had two hits for the Knights in the back-and-forth affair. Corvallis led 1-0 and 2-1, trailed 3-2, retook the lead at 4-3 with single runs in the seventh and eighth, and then lost it in the ninth.
Qsar, Taylor Travess and Jace Duty had the other RBIs for the Knights. Quijada had retired seven of the eight batters he’d face heading into the ninth before faltering.
DJ Porter had three hits and Shane McGuire two for the HarbourCats, who led 3-2 after scoring twice in the sixth. Qsar took the loss, while Dylan Thorp, the last of Victoria's four pitchers, got the win.
It is the ninth championship appearance in 11 seasons for the Knights, who are 4-4 all-time in the finals. Victoria is making its first finals appearance.
Corvallis is 4-4 in the championship round, with wins against Wenatchee in 2008 and 2013 and Walla Walla in 2011. The Knights lost the title series in 2007 (Moses Lake), 2009 and 2012 (Wenatchee both times) and Bellingham (2014).
Corvallis, the WCL’s South Division champion, reached this year’s championship round after beating Yakima Valley in three games in the divisional round. The Knights lost the opener at Yakima but came back to win two straight in the best-of-3, including a 3-2 victory in the decisive game.
Victoria, the second-half North Division champion and 29-25 in the WCL, is playing in the title series for the first time. The HarbourCats swept their divisional series against Kelowna.
Victoria led the WCL in batting with a .293 team average, was second in homers (45) and in RBIs (296). The HarbourCats was eighth in pitching, with a 5.08 team ERA. We were second in pitching, with a 4.30 ERA, and 10th in hitting, with a .254 team average.
Victoria had five North Division all-stars: Outfielder Hunter Vansau (.359, 8-33) of Mississippi State and pitchers Jack Owen (4-1, 1.02) of Auburn, Adam McKillikan (5-3, 4.03), Indigo Diaz (1-0, 4.12) of Iowa Western and Travis Kuhn (1-2, 4.39, 9 saves) of San Diego. Owen led the WCL in ERA; Vansua was fifth in average, fourth in homers and 10th in RBIs.