Kelowna Falcons

Falcons Host Cats

The Falcons are back home at Elks Stadium this weekend, looking to continue their winning ways. Hot off a road trip that saw them sweep the Walla Walla Sweets and extend their winning streak to five, the birds are playing host to the West Coast League’s only other Canadian club, the Victoria Harbourcats.

Though the Falcons are sitting atop the North division standings with a 5-1 record, putting away the Harbourcats (3-3) won’t be an easy task for the home side. The Harbourcats dropped their first three games of the season, but like the Falcons, they seem to have found their stride, rebounding and earning a sweep of their own earlier this week, bringing their record up to .500 on the season.

Despite getting some consistent offense, The Falcons will need to be mindful of the visitor’s pitching staff for this series. The Harbourcats have been very effective from the mound, with righty James Kannenberg leading the way. Despite only appearing in two games so far this season (suffering a loss and a no-decision), Kannenberg has mustered up 8 strikeouts, while only giving up 10 hits and 2 earned runs. That kind of stat line has kept the Littleton, Colorado native’s ERA at an impressive 1.63, putting him with the league leaders in that category.

The Harbourcats aren’t a one-arm team either. RHP Dalton Erb is a hurler to watch for this weekend as well. The 6’8 California product leads the league in strikeouts, sitting down 13 batters on strikes in just 8 innings of work. His command has been stellar; he’s managed to give up only a single walk without allowing any of his opponents to score, keeping his ERA at a perfect 0.00.

The Falcons, on the other hand, have been a pitch to contact-type team, giving up 59 base hits and only fanning 29 batters as a club, the second lowest team total in the WCL. That approach has paid off in other areas though, as the birds lead the league in bases on balls, giving free bases to just 11 opposing players. Staying around the plate has made the opposition work for their bases as well, just a single wild pitch has been charged to the entire Falcons’ staff through their six games.

Finding a balance has been an integral part of the Falcons’ pitching strategy this season. The club started the 2016 campaign off light on arms, but has since keep the workload relatively even for the hurlers on the team. Leif Strom leads the charge with 10 innings pitched, earning a loss and two no decisions in three appearances. Despite his record, the 6’6 righty has been effective, allowing just 4 earned runs, only one of which has come since the Falcons’ first and only loss on opening night. In addition to Strom, five Falcons have tossed 5 or more innings. That group has only allowed four walks and 16 earned runs through 42 2/3 innings.

Through 51 innings pitched, the Harbourcats sit comfortably in the middle of the league in almost every pitching category, their balanced throwing staff opening things up for their offense, which leads the league in runs with 37. Power hasn’t been a problem for the visiting club either; they’re currently holding a tie for the league lead in doubles with 11, and sitting in second with 2 home runs.

The Falcons will have their eye on outfielder Cody Snider, who has been a daunting presence at the plate, hitting for 3 RBI’s on two separate occasions this season. His 5 stolen bases and 7 runs scored are both good for first in the league, and are an indication of the fielder’s wheels. It’s been a balanced attack from the entire Harbourcats’ roster, with 14 of their batters registering at least a single hit through 6 games.

The home side has a offensive threat of their own though, as shortstop Lane Lacrone has come out of the gates at a torrid pace, reaching base in all 6 Falcons’ games this season, recording at least a base hit in 5, including multi-hit showings in his last two games down in Walla Walla. His .391 batting average, 9 base hits, and 6 RBI are among league leaders in each category this year. Joseph Shepherd is another Falcon that’s always a threat to score. The speedy outfielder has shown off his wheels more than once this season, his 7 runs scored ties him with the Harbourcats’ Snider for the league lead in that category. Shepherd has also earned 3 walks and a stolen bag for good measure in his 6 appearances this season.

After starting the season a little short-handed, the Falcons roster is beginning to round out as the U.S college season winds down. Expect to see some new (and some familiar!) faces join the club this weekend.

The first of the three-game series is set to go Friday night at Elks Stadium in Kelowna at 6:35 PM. Josh Mitchell (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is expected to take the mound for the Harbourcats opposite lefty Jordon Ragan (0-0, 2.57 ERA).

Games 2 and 3 of the series go Saturday (6:35 PM) and Sunday (6:05 PM).

Story courtesy of Matt Inglis – Falcons Media

Falcons photo courtesy of Cary Mellon

Harbourcats photo courtesy of Christian J Stewart 

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