The Bellingham Bells made use of a strong hitting performance throughout the lineup on Sunday to earn the series sweep over the Cowlitz Black Bears with a 10-3 victory in the series finale.
Trailing 2-0 after the top of the second inning, the Bells offense would be sparked by a Derek Atkinson leadoff double in the bottom half. Following the double, RJ Ybarra continued his timely hitting with a single to center field, scoring Atkinson. Ybarra advanced to second on the throw home from Cowlitz center fielder Derrick Salberg before Eric Angerer was hit by a pitch. Ryan Kirby advanced the runners on a perfect sacrifice bunt, followed by Michael Annunziata tying the game at 2-2 with a single past diving second baseman Corey VanDomelen to score Ybarra.
With runners on the corners and only one out, Annunziata would then steal second. Bells shortstop Trent Chatterton followed by hitting a ball back to Black Bears pitcher Zach Wilkins. The Cowlitz starting pitcher would attempt to force Angerer out at the plate, doing so unsuccessfully, as the Bells first baseman used his elusiveness to get out of a pickle and score the go-ahead run for Bellingham. On the play, Annunziata would be retired, but Chatterton managed to advance all the way to third following the pickle.
Already holding the 3-2 lead, the Bells would extend it to 4-2 in the fourth inning with a Chatterton base hit to score Kirby.
Fresh from the experience of a lifetime with the College World Series champion UCLA Bruins, Chatterton is continuing his exciting year this summer with the Bells.
“It is awesome, you can’t really explain it,” said Chatterton of winning the national title. “That is what you dream of your whole life and we got it, a lot of fun.”
Cowlitz tallied their final run of the afternoon in the fifth with a Paul Martinez single to center field, scoring Devyn Bolasky on the play.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bellingham would blow the game wide-open, putting up five runs off Black Bears reliever Henry Omana. During Omana’s time on the mound, the Bells bats tallied six hits and a walk, scoring all five of their runs for the inning. Omana would be replaced on the hill by Drew Merlow after 1/3 of an inning. Merlow would get his team out of the inning with no more damage.
Holding the 9-3 lead, the Bells added an insurance run in the seventh inning when a Ryan Yamane base hit scored Kirby to create the eventual final score of 10-3.
Bellingham starting pitcher Chris Van Dyke threw the first three innings for the Bells, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. The Oakland University right-hander was on a pitch-count for the game of around 60, so relievers John Albert and Aaron Sandefur (3-0) would be called upon to finish the game on the mound for Bellingham. Albert would allow one run in two innings, while Sandefur was outstanding over the final four, with Cowlitz tallying only three hits and no runs off the righty who earned the win for his performance.
“Sandefur has been really good for us,” said Bells manager Gary Hatch. “He is a strike throwing guy and he does a great job keeping the hitters off balance.”
The new faces of Chatterton and Atkinson would again shine for the Bells, with a combined five hits between the two.
“Chatterton is a really good contact hitter,” said Hatch. “With him and Atkinson joining us recently we have picked up a couple good players right there.”
The Bells improve to 15-11 on the season with the win, while Cowlitz falls to 12-12.
Bellingham will now take their four game winning streak into a series at Joe Martin Field with the Kitsap BlueJackets. Games are Monday through Wednesday, all starting at 7:05. All the action can be heard on bellinghambells.com with Mike Weisman on the call.