Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, and the No. 25 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft stepped to the plate down by a run.
It’s every kid’s dream. On a 1-0 count, Matt McLain turned on a pitch and sent the Bells home with a walk-off grand slam in a 7-4 victory.
“It feels amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” McLain said. “I was looking to square something up and it happened to go over.”
After nearly taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Bellingham kept the pressure on in the bottom of the ninth inning with a two-out rally. First, Jordan Stoner singled up the middle and Zach Needham followed with a rip to center of his own. A wild pitch brought the Bells within one run.
Matt James took a 2-out walk and Dusty Stroup followed suit with an infield single to bring McLain to the dish, who blasted one over the left field wall for his first homerun as a Bell.
“Everyone did their job and everyone did their part getting on base,” McLain said. “You can’t do it without your teammates.”
Right in the thick of a 12-game in 12-day marathon after receiving a pair of days off with the All-Star game, the Bells are currently riding a three-game win-streak.
In game six of their 12 consecutive game stretch, Johnny Wiltfang was able to avoid danger to start the game off. After two consecutive singles and an error, Wiltfang masterfully struck out the next batter and a groundball to end the inning on a 6-4-3 double play.
Bellingham jumped on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning via the small ball. After reaching on a lead off error, Matt McLain moved Dusty Stroup into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Landen Kimbro was able to Stroup over to third on a soft line drive which barely escaped the infield. Needham picked up RBI number 16 on the year with a sacrifice fly to center field to give Bellingham a 1-0 lead.
Bend quickly responded with a one-out double and an RBI single by Bend’s third baseman Jake Holton to tie the game up at 1-1.
After retiring Bend’s lead off hitter, Wiltfang was unable to dance away from danger as he had to start the game off. A walk and two back-to-back doubles ended Wiltfang’s day in his first West Coast League start since the Bells beat the Portland Pickles 3-2 on June 16.
Wiltfang was responsible for the runner on second base and the Elks belted on last extra base hit, this time off the arm of reliever Marcos Cuenca.
Cuenca would quickly settle into his first appearance since a relief appearance on June 14. The Bellingham native allowed just two hits on the night, striking out one, and walking one in 2.2 innings of work.
Bellingham cut into Bend’s lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after Matt James sent a screaming line drive into the right field corner for a lead off triple. The DH would be sent home on a Stroup RBI single to bring the game within striking distance 4-2.
There wouldn’t be another run scored until Bellingham would plate five in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Bells will quickly shift their focus to the Portland Lefties who come into town. The three-game series will be the final of Bellingham’s current six-game homestand.
Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm.