The 2013 West Coast League regular season came to an end on Sunday for the Bellingham Bells, as they fell to the Victoria HarbourCats 4-3. Both teams had already been eliminated from playoff contention, but each looked to finish the season with a victory at Royal Athletic Park.
After the Bells took the first two games of the series, they had an opportunity to finish the season over .500 but fell just short. Nate Cole and Connor Russell were each solid in their final appearances of the summer, but neither factored in the division, as the game was not decided until the eighth.
For the second day in a row the home club got on the board first, and yet again, the long ball made its presence known early. Alex Real led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run, his sixth of the season, which gave Victoria the 1-0 lead. That score remained until the Bells half of the fourth.
After Ryan Kirby doubled to begin the inning, Eric Angerer brought him home with an RBI single that tied the game at one. It wasn’t much longer until the Bells struck again, this time a crooked number in the fifth. Johnny Farrington led off the inning with a base hit, and a single followed that by Bells center fielder Nate Anderson. After both runners moved 90 feet on a sacrifice by Ryan Yamane, Alex Calbick stepped in for what resulted in his final at-bat of the season. He put one onto the outfield grass, as Farrington and Anderson scored, RBI’s 25 and 26 of the season for the all-star third baseman. Little did Calbick know, but that final hit that made the score 3-1 also locked up the league batting title for the University of Maine product, as he narrowly edged Connor Spencer of Wenatchee, .384 to .380.
The two run fifth inning was the final frame for Victoria starter Connor Russell. He allowed three runs on nine hits in five innings of work. Nate Cole lasted one more inning, as he allowed only one run in a six inning no decision. Cole lowered his ERA to 1.71 and finished second on the team to Nick Baker, fourth overall of qualified pitchers in the league.
Cole was lifted by Gary Hatch to begin the bottom of the seventh, as Andrew Freter (0-3) took the mound. After the righty retired the leadoff batter, things fell apart. A one out single by Timmy Richards, an RBI double by Brett Urabe, and an RBI triple by Brandon Smith knocked Freter out of what was then a 3-3 ballgame. Hatch went to the pen again, this time for Will Dennis. The lefty quickly allowed an RBI single to Jordan Ellis. That gave Victoria a 4-3 lead, the score that turned out to be final.
Jake Bailey doubled with two outs in the ninth, but Farrington flied out to end the ballgame and the season for the Bells. Logan Lombana (2-2) picked up the win for the HarbourCats, as he pitched the final four innings in shutout fashion. Freter left with the loss. The defeat left the Bells with a final record of 27-27, third in the North, 2.5 games out of the playoffs. The HarbourCats avoided the sweep and wrapped up their inaugural season at 22-32, 7.5 games out of the postseason.
Later in the day, the 2013 West Coast League playoffs were set. The Walla Walla Sweets clinched the North division with a victory, and will host game two and a potential game three vs. the Wenatchee AppleSox at Borleske Stadium. In the South, Corvallis had already locked up the division and finished the season with the best record in the league, 37-17, and on a nine game win streak. They will host game two and a potential game three. Their opponent wasn’t decided until late on Sunday. The Bend Elks, who had the best record in the league much of the summer, lost all three games vs. Walla Walla, and finished in a tie with Medford. The Rogues hold the season tiebreaker, and therefore will represent the South. Bend needed one win in their final six games to clinch a spot in the postseason, but went 0-6 in the last week. The postseason begins on Tuesday and will wrap up the week of August 19th.