A showcase of the long ball fueled Bellingham to a series opening win in Victoria on Friday night, as the Bells knocked off the HarbourCats 8-2.
With an elimination number of one, the Bells came to British Columbia in need of a sweep to have a chance at a spot in the postseason, and game one went as well as Gary Hatch could have hoped, as Jason Hager (3-1) went all nine innings, and the Bells offense hit a season high five home runs.
After the Bells dropped six of their final seven games at home, they began the short road trip with a run in the top of the first inning. Victoria starter Daniel Koo (0-1), who made his HarbourCats debut Friday night had a rough go of it. After Johnny Farrington went first to third on an Alex Calbick single, Ryan Kirby brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center, which put the Bells on top 1-0, a lead they did not relinquish.
The offensive surge really got underway in the third inning. After Ryan Yamane walked to begin the frame, Calbick doubled for his second of four hits on the night. With men on second and third, Chris Beall hit his second home run of the season, as he cleared the wall in right field. Beall’s home run put the Bells on top 4-0, and proved to be the game winner.
The home run surge continued for the Bells in the fifth, as a pair of solo shots put Bellingham on top 6-0. Calbick led off the inning with a solo home run over the wall in right, his fourth of the season. Three batters later, Eric Angerer hit his second home run of the year, a towering blast off the top of the scoreboard in left field. The fifth inning closed the book on Koo, as he allowed six runs, seven hits, and three home runs in route to the loss.
Victoria broke the shutout in the seventh, as Jason Hager surrendered a two run home run to John Schuknecht, his team leading sixth of the summer. That brought the home team closer and cut the deficit to four. But that was as close as the HarbourCats got. Hager allowed only six hits on his way to his third win of the season.
Bellingham got those two runs back courtesy of solo home runs in each of the final two innings. Jake Bailey put one over the fence in right in the eighth, his first of the season, and Alex Calbick hit his second solo home run of the ballgame to leadoff the ninth, his fifth home run of the year.
The five home run night for the Bells highlighted an impressive 13 hit performance, which included four hits by Calbick, three by Beall, three by Bailey, and two by Nate Anderson. Bellingham had only 11 home runs in 51 games prior to the opener in Victoria, but left Royal Athletic Park with 16. As Wenatchee lost to Kelowna 7-5, the Bells pulled within 2.5 games of the Sweets, and are still alive in the playoff chase.
Bellingham faces a must win game on Saturday, as the HarbourCats host the Bells at Royal Athletic Park at 7:05. The broadcast can be heard on AM 930 KBAI, and 930KBAI.com, as Mike Weisman has the call with the pregame show at 6:35.