For a game known more for moving players around the bases with the likes of sacrifice bunts and hit and runs, tonight’s game between the Bellingham Bells and Medford Rogues was more a story of the long ball to move players across the plate.
Fans were treated to a rare occurrence of seeing five home runs hit, including two by the Bells and three by the Rogues. The edge in home runs was enough to propel Medford to a 10-6 win and a sweep of the three-game series.
Things got off to a good start for the Bells, with leadoff batter Johnny Sewald being walked and quickly stealing second. He moved to third on Ryan Yamane’s sacrifice bunt and came around to score on a passed ball to open a 1-0 lead for the Bells.
The Rogues came back in the second to take a 5-1 lead on the strength of Spencer Smith’s two-out grand slam of off Bells starter Chris Van Dyke, who took the loss.
Bellingham threatened to close the gap in bottom of the second, but stranded two men in scoring position – an all too familiar and frustrating ending over the last two games. Over the three-game set, the Bells left 32 men on base, including six tonight.
Perseverance paid off for the Bells in the third, however. Sewald walked and again stole second, giving him 18 for the season. Yamane walked to give the Bells two men on with Alex Calbick at the plate with no outs.
Swinging at a 1-1 pitch, Calbick blasted his third home run of the season over the right field fence to close the gap to 5-4 and put the Bells back into the game.
In the top half of the fourth, Medford increased its lead when leadoff batter Joe Chavez hit a solo shot to left field and Smith hit a two-out single driving in a run to build 7-4 lead.
The score held up through the top of the ninth when the Rogues struck again, this time off the bat of Jarad Casper, who hit a three-run homer to open a 10-4 lead.
“They hit the ball well tonight and we gave up too many walks,” said Bells manager Gary Hatch. “We ran into some good hitting, and when was the last time you saw five HRs? We hit the ball well, too, but it all comes down to making the catch and we didn’t do that.”
The Bells weren’t finished though. After beating out the relay throw on a potential double play ball, Jack Meggs was on first when Johnny Farrington laced a shot over the right field wall – his second HR of the year -- to bring the Bells within four. It wasn’t enough, though, as the rally fell short.
With the loss, the Bells have dropped four in a row and Medford picked up their sixth straight win. In The Bells used five pitchers tonight – all relievers – because of injuries in the starter ranks.
Walla Walla’s game in Wenatchee was rained out, so the Bells are now one game behind Wenatchee for the division lead. Walla Walla is a half game out.
It doesn’t get any easier for Bellingham as the Bend Elks arrive in town for a three-game series beginning tomorrow night.
“Bend is a good hitting team and it’s going to be a good, but tough, series,” said Hatch. “They haven’t played on a grass field like ours, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the grass field.”
Game time is 7:05 and all the action can be heard on the radio at AM 930 KBAI and online at 930kbai.com with Mike Weisman on the call. Andrew Olson is the projected Bells starter for the series opener.