On Friday night, it was Bellingham native Ernie Yake who got the go-ahead hit to seal a late comeback for the Bells. On Saturday night, it was Bellingham local Matt James’ turn to play hero who gave the bells a 3-2 victory on a walk off single which slammed off the right field wall.
“It feels awesome. I’ve kind of been struggling at home, so it was great to get that hit, in that situation, in front of a great home crowd,” James said. “I love our fans. I’ve been coming to games for a long time, so to be able to be in the situation that I’m in is really a dream come true.”
Connor Mack got the Bells off on the right foot with a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth. Cody Pasic then stepped in to pinch hit, doing his job and moving Mack down to second which put the tying run in scoring position. Guthrie Morrison, who hadn’t recorded an out all game, stepped in for a huge double down the left field line to tie the ballgame at 2-2.
After Portland set down the next batter on strikes, Ernie Yake stepped into the batter’s box looking to replicate a similar moment to Friday’s ballgame - when he drove in the game’s tying and winning runs. However, the Pickles wanted no part of Yake and sent him down to first on the intentional walk.
Then Bellingham native Matt James stepped to the dish in a pinch-hitting role. James crushed a 1-0 pitch to the right field wall which sent the Bells (9-5) home with a two-out walk off win and the series.
“I was just looking for a ball out over the plate that I could handle, and I got an outside fastball,” James said. “I was able to sit on it on it long enough and get the meat of the bat on the ball and it turned out pretty good.”
It certainly did turn out well for the Bells, who are now riding a four-game winning streak.
While the two homegrown players have taken the spotlight in the first two games of this homestand, Bellingham’s pitching staff has allowed for the opportunities.
Starter, Johnny Wiltfang breezed through the first four innings of play without allowing a run. However, in the bottom of the fifth, the tall righty ran into some trouble.
The six-foot five right-hander gave up two consecutive hits after retiring the Portland’s leadoff hitter, Mike Perez. Wiltfang then walked the bases loaded and Portland made him pay with a one out single from Gio Diaz and a sac-fly off the bat of Carson Breshears, giving the Pickles a 2-1 lead.
Davis Baillie, the right-handed pitcher out of Washington State was phenomenal in relief of Wiltfang. After coming into the ballgame with runners on second and third, the Bells pitcher retired six in a row. Baillie would later throw 4.1 dominant innings of one-hit baseball, without allowing a single walk.
Portland came to Joe Martin Field on Friday night with a six-game winning streak and the best record in both regions of the West Coast League.
In the past two games, Bellingham has put together a pair of wins en route of their own four-game win-streak. A win tomorrow would give the Bells a sweep of Portland (9-4) and sole possession of the best record in the WCL.
First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 pm.