The Bellingham Bells started the home stand off with a bang, defeating the Bend Elks 6-2 Friday night. Bells starter Jared Fisher pitched seven and two thirds of shutout baseball earning the victory and Grant Fink went 2-4 with two RBI at the plate.
The Bells got out to a quick start jumping all over Bend starter Travis Radke early in the first inning. The inning start with a leadoff walk from Johnny Farrington followed by a single from Andrew Ely to put men at first and second with nobody out. Then with two outs, Grant Fink lined a double to the right field wall bringing two runs home and giving the Bells a 2-0 lead. Des Santos followed up with an RBI single to stretch the lead to 3-0 after one.
Bells starter Jared Fisher struggled to find the strike zone early in the game, walking four batters in the first three innings but managed to strand the runners. After escaping a first and third jam in the top of the third inning, Fisher got into a rhythm and retired seven of the next eight batters. Fisher ended the night pitching seven and two thirds innings of shutout baseball allowing only five hits and striking out three batters. Fisher was relieved by fellow University of Washington pitcher Keith Zuniga in the top of the eighth inning who pitched out of another first and third jam.
Bend starter Travis Radke pitched pretty well after a rough first inning but the Bells finally chased him from the game in the bottom of the seventh. Kai Hatch led off the inning with a single and Joe Winterburn worked a walk which put runners at first and second. After Josh McAlister relieved Radke, Michael Leach bunted the runners over to second and third with one out. That brought up Johnny Farrington who executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt which scored Hatch and gave the Bells a 4-0 lead. McAlister executed two perfect pick off plays to first but Farrington escaped both and Winterburn came home from third to score on the second pickoff attempt. The Bells led 5-0 after seven innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Derek Atkinson reached on a leadoff hit by pitch from McAlister, followed by Grant Fink’s second double of the game putting runners at second and third. Des Santos hit a high fly ball to left field which stayed up for Bend left fielder Shawn Obrien which was deep enough for Atkinson to try and score from third. Atkinson started his slide late into home and barreled over Bend catcher Parker Guinn who dropped the ball. But due to collegiate baseball rules, you are not allowed to run into the catcher, so Atkinson was ruled out and ejected from the game. Kai Hatch brought home the run with a two out RBI single which gave the Bells a 6-0 lead heading into the ninth.
Bells reliever Keith Zuniga struggled in the ninth as Bend managed to break up the shutout, scoring two runs but that was all. The Bells defeated the Bend Elks 6-2 in the first game of the three game series. The two teams play again tomorrow at 7:05 PM.
Tomorrow is also Marc Rzepczynski bobblehead night at Joe Martin Field as well as Hometown Heroes Night where the Bells will honor the local police and fire departments.