Excellent pitching and timely hitting paved the way for a 9-1 victory for the Bellingham Bells in game two with the Kitsap BlueJackets.
On the mound, Bellingham starting pitcher Jake Paulson (1-2) had his best start of the season, going six innings while allowing five hits and walking one BlueJacket batter. The tall right-hander had the Kitsap hitters off balance all night, striking out six on his way to the win, his first of the season.
“Paulson had his fastball in the 91-94 mile per hour category tonight and his breaking ball was very effective,” said Bells manager Gary Hatch. “The early lead helped him to settle in and we also had some great defense tonight.”
While Paulson was dominant on the mound, the Bellingham bats also had a strong night of their own.
In the first inning, the Bells used a leadoff walk from Johnny Sewald, followed by Eric Angerer being hit by a pitch to put the pressure on Kitsap starting pitcher Monty McCasland (1-4). Alex Calbick would hit a ground ball that allowed the BlueJackets to force Angerer out at second. However, the throw to first would get past McCasland, allowing Sewald to score from third and Calbick to reach on the error.
Derek Atkinson was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with only one out. An RJ Ybarra single up the middle scored Calbick to give the Bells an early 2-0 lead. McCasland was able to escape the rest of the inning with no more damage.
Shortly thereafter in the third inning, the Bells would again find success at the plate. Ryan Yamane would start the frame off with a leadoff single, prior to an Aaron Sandefur strikeout and a Johnny Farrington four pitch walk. Sewald followed by hitting into a fielder’s choice where Farrington would be retired at second base. With runners on the corners, Angerer was again hit by a pitch. The Bells first baseman has been hit by 14 pitches this year, the most in the West Coast League. With the bases loaded, Calbick was then hit by a pitch to extend the lead to 3-0.
A four-run third inning was sparked by a Michael Annunziata one out double. With the Bellingham right fielder on second base, the Bells would then load the bases after Yamane ran out an infield single and Sandefur was hit by a pitch.
With the bases loaded, a Farrington fielder’s choice would allow Annunziata to score. A Kitsap error on a bobble by third baseman Danny Sheehan on Sewald’s grounder scored Yamane. Angerer then knocked a double to center, scoring both Sewald and Sandefur. The inning would come to an end for the Bells when Angerer was thrown out at third base trying to extend the hit into a triple. When all the scoring in the inning was over, it was 7-0 Bellingham.
The Bells would tack on a run in both the sixth and seventh innings, while Kitsap tallied their lone run of the game in the seventh inning off reliever Jason Hager.
“We found a few holes tonight and they (Kitsap) threw it around a little bit,” said Hatch. “Our speed definitely showed up tonight.”
Hager would go two innings in relief for the Bells, allowing the one run on two hits, striking out three. Marc Huberman finished things up for Bellingham, tossing a scoreless ninth, allowing only a walk and striking out two.
McCasland was saddled with the loss for the BlueJackets, falling to 1-4 on the season.
The seven Bells batters hit by a pitch in the Tuesday night matchup was the most to this point by a team in the West Coast League season.
With the win, Bellingham improves to 16-12, while Kitsap drops to 11-21. The Bells are 1.5 games back of first place Walla Walla in the North Division.
“It was a good one for us tonight,” said Hatch. “We got out of our little slump and our pitching was absolutely phenomenal.”
The two squads will square off in the series finale at Joe Martin Field on Wednesday night at 7:05. All the action can be heard on bellinghambells.com with Mike Weisman on the call.