VICTORIA — The Cubans expected an American-style power game and instead the Lefties threw them the soft stuff.
The Lefties made a bit of history on Sunday as the first West Coast League team from the United States to ever play a team from Cuba — the Union de Reyes from Matanzas. Union de Reyes played both the Lefties and the Victoria HarbourCats at the HarbourCats home, Royal Athletic Park, in Victoria because there are travel restrictions in the U.S. for Cuban teams.
The Lefties found themselves locked in a close battle with the Cubans with the Lefties holding a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. But the Lefties scored a bunch of runs late to run away with it, 13-5. More than 1,400 fans attended the game. Later Sunday, the HarborCats played the Cubans, losing 10-2.
“It was a great game, a fun game to watch,” said Lefties owner Matt Acker. “It was really tight at the beginning. It was like watching two different games in one.”
The Lefties’ Alex Garcia was the hitting start for the Lefties, hitting a three-run home run. Alexander Marco also hit a two-run shot homer and had three hits total. CJ Shauwecker had three hits, including a double off the wall, and two RBIs. Damiano Palmegiani also had a two-run base hit.
Tyler Tan, a veteran of the Lefties from last year, got the win, going five innings with allowing a run, striking out seven and allowing just two hits. Tan, Matthew Dunaway, Michael Musselwhite and Carter Loewen combined for 15 strikeouts.
Acker said the Lefties and Union de Reyes exchanged mementos before the game and came together to shake hands and have photos taken.
Once the game began, Acker said the Lefties coaches showed a great game plan. The Cubans expected “American power,” i.e., a lot of velocity from the American pitchers. Instead, the Lefties showed the Cubans a lot of off-speed stuff.
“We threw them off. We played against the stereotype of an American team,” Acker said. “Our game plan was excellent.”
The Lefties returned to America to begin their WCL season today in Portland, Ore., against the Portland Pickles. Port Angeles returns home to Civic Field for its home league opener at 6:35 p.m. Friday against the Bellingham Bells.
Acker said this third edition of the Lefties is very different from the first two years. He said the Lefties’ first team “were really, really nice kids.”
Last year’s squad, which led the WCL in home runs, was “bold, with big upsides but some holes in their games.”