After falling in Monday’s series opener, the Bells outscored Kitsap 14-6 in winning the final three games at the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Bremerton, Wash. Bellingham took the season series with Kitsap six games to three.
“We knew what we had to do,” said coach Jim Clem. “This was a tough road trip- seven games in six days is not easy, especially a doubleheader to end the trip.”
In Wednesday’s opener, Ryan McMonigle (Concorida University) spun five innings of one-run baseball with five strikeouts. The righty retired 10 consecutive hitters to end his afternoon and won his third game of the season. After Kitsap scored the first run of the game in the second inning on a fielder’s choice groundout, the Bells came back with a run of their own in the third on an identical fielder’s choice groundout. From there, McMonigle turned it on and left with a 2-1 lead after Jack Klein (Stanford) drove in Chris Baker (University of Washington) in the fifth.
“We’ve been able to rely on Ryan to get the job done for us on the mound, and he stepped up again today,” Bells assistant coach Dane Siegfried said.
Scott Heath (University of Maine) drilled his fourth home run of the season over the right-centerfield wall in the sixth and provided the Bells with an insurance run, 3-1. Both ends of the doubleheader were seven innings long, as Dan Ludwig (Belmont University) tossed a scoreless inning of relief in the sixth and David Bigelow (Gonzaga) recorded his West Coast League-leading 13th save of the season with two strikeouts in the seventh. Both were selected to the WCL All-Star Team this season and give the Bells a tough lefty-righty punch out of the pen.
“Our bullpen has been so good all season long,” said coach Clem. “They have come into some tough situations and provide us with stability after our starters exit.”
Kitsap starter Rustin Sveum (Dixie State) allowed two runs and six hits in five innings as he endured the loss, falling to 0-5 this season. Offensively, the BlueJackets had no answer for the three-headed beast of McMonigle, Ludwig and Bigelow on the hill. Only three runners saw second base for Kitsap and only Matt Jackson (University of Washington) made it to third, as he eventually scored the first and only run.
A two-run second inning gave the Bells the early momentum and starter Zach Johnson (Edmonds College) took it and ran with it. Klein scored on Nate Anderson’s (Bellevue College) single and Anderson scored on Lou Della Fera’s (University of Maine) groundout. Johnson, armed with a deadly pickoff move (38 pickoffs in 2 seasons with Edmonds) picked off two more runners on Wednesday and picked up his third win of the season. The southpaw struck out three, walked three and allowed three runs in five innings.
Bellingham would tack on four more runs in the third to take a healthy 6-0 lead, highlighted by a two-run double from Klein and an RBI single from Hank Elliot (Chemeketa College). Elliot would finish with three hits in the second game, while Klein singled, doubled, walked, scored twice and drove in two.
“It’s always nice to score runs early,” Clem said. “We did a nice job of moving runners over and getting them into scoring position this afternoon.”
The BlueJackets would answer back, as they did the entire series. Jackson reached on an error, Corbin Duffy (Everett College) walked and Caylen Clardy (Oregon State) beat out an infield grounder for a hit to load the bases with no outs in the third. Nick Choruby (Texas A&M) grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Jackson, while Zach Larsen (St. Martin’s College) drove in Duffy with a sacrifice fly. Kitsap would add another run in the fifth after Duffy doubled and scored, knifing the Bellingham lead to 6-3.
The Bells would add one run in the seventh on an RBI sac-fly from Anderson, scoring Dallas Carroll (Utah) who led off the inning with a walk. Mo Ceja (UCLA) pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the Bells, who won for the third straight game and took the series, 3-1. Ceja struck out Larsen with a runner at second base to end the game- and the series.
“It’s been a long summer,” said Clem. “These guys have proven that they can win games that really matter. When this team has needed a win, we’ve gotten it.”
Bellingham will take a much deserved day off on Thursday and hit the road Friday for the final regular season series of ’14. The Bells will play Cowlitz at Story Field this weekend, with Friday’s opener slated to begin at 6:35pm PDT. Dave Grant will have the play-by-play on AM 930 KBAI and online at 930kbai.com, with the pregame starting at 6:05pm. Be sure to follow the Bells radio broadcast team on Twitter: @BellsRadio.