Claire Eccles in mid-windup as she and her Victoria HarbourCats teammates face the Kitsap Bluejackets in West Coast League baseball action Sunday at Royal Athletic Park. In her first start – the first ever by a female pitcher in WCL history – she went three innings and picked up the win in an 11-2 victory. Victoria won the second game of the Father’s Day doubleheader, 5-4. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Cats’ bats help Victoria starter Eccles chalk up her first win

More West Coast League baseball history made on Father’s Day at RAP

Rookie pitcher Claire Eccles finessed her way to her first victory as a starter in West Coast League baseball action Sunday, holding the Kitsap Bluejackets to a pair of runs over three innings of work in an 11-2 Victoria HarbourCats win.

The Surrey native was the darling of the nearly 2,400 fans in attendance on Father’s Day at Royal Athletic Park, who cheered lustily on various occasions when Kitsap players swung and missed, and especially when Eccles fanned Trace Eldridge to start the second inning.

Eccles, whose other appearance for the Cats this season was two innings of relief, appeared to tire in the third, as she walked three batters and gave up a pair of singles and two runs. She managed to work her way out of a bases-loaded jam to end the top of the third, helped by a running catch by right fielder Jake Garella with her team still leading 5-2.

The home team made it 7-2 in the bottom half and added four more runs in the next two innings to make it a rout. Both that game and the next, won 5-4 with a walk-off single by Ethan Lopez, were shortened to seven innings due to Kitsap’s need to catch a ferry.

Andrew Vaughan helped the HarbourCats cause with a four-for-four day at the plate in the opener, including two doubles and two runs batted in. Garella and Bryce Bonner added two hits each, while Harry Shipley had two separate sacrifice flies for RBI.

Relievers Jack Tagget, Indigo Diaz and Chavez Fernandez combined to throw four innings without a run to preserve Eccles’ first win.

Game 2 saw HarbourCats centre fielder Ethan Lopez drive home Connor Whitney with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 victory. Blake Hannah took the win in relief of starter Matt Kent, who went five and allowed just one run and one hit.

Shipley led the attack going two for two with a double and three runs scored.

The HarbourCats are back in action Monday at 12:05 p.m. against Port Angeles, for a School Spirit game at which 2,000 students are expected to be in the park. Then the Corvallis Knights are in town for three games, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all at 6:35 p.m. start times.

The homestand continues with Friday and Saturday night games against Walla Walla plus a 1:05 p.m. matinee Sunday against those same Sweets.

editor@vicnews.com

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Victoria HarbourCats base runner Jake Garella scores from third on a sacrifice fly to right field against the Kitsap Bluejackets. The Cats took both ends of the Sunday West Coast League doubleheader, 11-2 and 5-4 at Royal Athletic Park. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

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