The Bellingham Bells utilized an impressive seven inning effort on the mound from Nate Cole and timely hitting to take the series opener from the Cowlitz Black Bears 3-1 on Friday night at Joe Martin Field.
Cole, the Abilene Christian University right-hander, allowed only one run on eight hits and two walks while striking out four to stymie the Cowlitz hitters throughout the night. He would earn the win for his efforts to improve to 3-0 on the season.
"He is a real strike thrower out there,” said Bells manager Gary Hatch of Cole. “He really competes well and also made a few real nice fielding plays out there on the mound tonight.”
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Derek Atkinson would spark the Bells offense with a leadoff double. Ryan Kirby followed with a walk, prior to a Johnny Farrington groundout that allowed Atkinson and Kirby to advance to second and third on the play. Johnny Sewald then stepped up to the plate for the Bells. The Arizona State University outfielder took advantage of his opportunity, hitting a double which would score both the runners and give the Bells their first lead of the night. Sewald scored to extend the lead to 3-1 after a Ryan Yamane base hit.
Hatch would make use of his bullpen for the first time in the game during the eighth inning. John Albert started the inning for the Bells and Will Dennis finished it off to hold the lead for Bellingham.
In the ninth, Marc Huberman took the mound for the Bells, quickly tossing a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save, his fourth on the year. The University of Southern California lefty has shined for Bellingham in the first part of the season, having yet to allow an earned run in 13 2/3 innings.
“The pitching staff has been phenomenal all year long,” stated Hatch. “Tonight we also had timely hits and it was nice to have Atkinson back in the lineup, he is a really good hitter for us.”
Atkinson, the University of San Francisco prospect, was thrilled to help the team to a win in his return to Bellingham.
“It’s always good to win,” said Atkinson. “Especially at home in front of a crowd like this.”
Black Bears starting pitcher Jon Bjorklund (1-1) was saddled with the loss after pitching five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks. Bjorklund struck out three Bells hitters on the night.
The Bells improve to 13-11 in West Coast League play with the win, while Cowlitz drops to 12-10 on the season.
Both teams will return to Joe Martin Field on Saturday night for game two of the three game series. Game time is 7:05 and all the action can be heard on AM 930 KBAI and 930kbai.com with Mike Weisman on the call.