Just like other recent Bells games, it was a scoreless duel throughout the initial stages of the game, with neither team scoring in the first six innings. The two teams combined for three hits over this span and Sweets starting pitcher Tim Culligan didn’t allow a Bells base runner until the sixth inning.
However, Bellingham finally broke through in the seventh. Kai Hatch and Derek Atkinson led off with singles and advanced to third and second base, respectively, on a wild pitch to Ben Grubb. The Walla Walla shortstop then committed an error on a Grubb groundball, allowing Hatch to score to give the Bells a 1-0 lead.
The Bells got an all-important insurance run in the ninth inning to take a 2-0 lead. Eric Lane led off the inning with a single and with two outs, Grubb came to the plate and ripped a triple, scoring Hatch.
The Sweets wouldn’t go down easily, however. Andrew Mendenhall led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double and scored on a two-out single by Chance Kopacz to make it 2-1. Sampson then struck out the next hitter, Elliot Stewart, to end the ballgame.
Sampson was overpowering yet again, yielding only four hits, one walk, and one run in his second complete game of the year. Sampson moves to 4-2 on the year and his 0.84 ERA is second in the West Coast League. The Bells lead the WCL with a team ERA of 2.10.
With the sweep, Bellingham moves to 17-16 on the season, the first time they’ve been above .500 since June 11.
The Bells now lead Walla Walla by five games for the second and final playoff spot in the WCL’s East Division. The squad returns to Bellingham for a non-league game against the Portland Dukes at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.