A tough week for the Bellingham Bells continued on Sunday afternoon at Joe Martin Field, dropping the series finale to the Bend Elks 5-3.
Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bells would get things going with one out when Ryan Kirby was hit by a pitch. Pinch-hitter Michael Annunziata then unloaded on a Cam Booser pitch, sending the ball over the left field fence for a home run to cut the deficit to 5-3.
The inning continued to go well for the Bells, starting with Eric Angerer being hit by a pitch, then Jack Meggs reaching on a wide throw from Elks second baseman Jordan Aboites to first base. Aboites would be ejected after the play, resulting in a mass defensive shuffle for Bend.
Each runner then advanced 90 feet on a double steal with two outs and Trent Chatterton at the plate. Chatterton continued his at-bat, working a nine pitch walk on a full count.
Unfortunately for the Bells, for the second night in a row they would leave the winning run stranded on base when Johnny Sewald grounded out to second to end the game.
Another chance for the Bells to cut into the deficit was in the seventh inning. Ryan Yamane began the inning by earning a leadoff walk, followed by a rude welcoming for Bend reliever Michael Jordan when Alex Calbick crushed a double over the Elks right fielder. With no outs in the inning, Jordan battled to not allow any runs to score.
All five of the Bend runs came in the first two innings, with two in the first and three in the second. Elks shortstop Seth Spivey led the way, totaling two RBI’s on two hits.
The first run of the night for Bellingham came in the bottom of the second inning on a long Ryan Kirby leadoff home run to right field.
Early in the game, the Bells would struggle on the base paths, falling victim to two runners being picked off and another being caught stealing.
Bellingham starter Andrew Freter (0-2) needed 40 pitches to get through the first inning. Freter then worked for another 10 to record an out in the second before Bells manager Gary Hatch went to the bullpen. The right-hander went 1 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. Freter was saddled with the loss.
The bullpen was a bright spot for the Bells on Sunday, allowing only one run over 7 2/3 innings. The trio of Aaron Sandefur, Jason Hager, and Marc Huberman would combine to stymie the Bend bats.
For Bend, starting pitcher Clay Gartner (5-2) would earn the win, tossing six innings and limiting the Bells to a run on three hits and three walks. He would strike out three. Booser picked up his first save.
With the loss, Bellingham falls to 25-25 on the season and maintains their position in third place in the North Division, currently 1 ½ games behind first place Wenatchee and a game back of second place Walla Walla.
The win improves Bend to 30-18, good for a tie for first place in the South Division with Corvallis.
The Bells return to action on Tuesday night as they host the San Francisco Seals in a non-league game. Game time is 7:05 and all the action can be heard online at bellinghambells.com with Mike Weisman on the call.