Klamath Falls took a late lead from Bellingham with two ninth-inning runs and the Bells left the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth as the Gems held on for a 5-4 win on Monday night at Joe Martin Field.
Aaron Stroosma (Bellevue College) led off the bottom of the ninth with a double down the right-field line, energizing the large crowd in attendance for the home opener. A sacrifice bunt by Jimmy Sinatro (Gonzaga) advanced Stroosma to third base but Gems pitcher Juliene Jones (Hawaii) got Walker Olis (Pacific) to groundout before striking out Dylan Garcia (Cal State Chico) to end the game.
Down to their final three outs, Klamath Falls rallied in the top of the ninth when pinch hitter Hunter Hanson (Murray State CC) led off with a fly ball to shallow left field. Stroosma, the left fielder, and Bells shortstop Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) collided on the play and the ball dropped as Hanson reached second base. A one-out double from Kody Kuhlman (Feather River) tied the game and Brett Cumberland (UC-Berkeley) followed with a single to give Klamath Falls the lead.
The Bells overcame an early 3-1 deficit with a three-run sixth inning, highlighted by a bases-loaded double from Danny Miller (Cal State Chico). Miller connected on the first pitch he saw and drove the ball into the right-center gap, scoring all three baserunners.
Klamath Falls scored its first three runs in the top of the third inning, sending seven hitters to the plate. A leadoff walk, two hits and a Bells error spurred the offense for the Gems during the inning.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, the Bells plated their first run on a slow groundball by Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) to shortstop, scoring Stroosma. After the third walk of the inning loaded the bases again, Klamath Falls pitcher Michael Silva (Loyola Marymount) struck out Breshears to end the threat.
Brett Karraker (Arizona State) pitched the eighth inning for Klamath Falls and earned the win, while AJ Konopaski (Pacific Lutheran) took the loss for Bellingham.
Zach Johnson (Edmonds CC) started on the mound for the Bells and struck out seven Gems in six innings of work. Johnson also used a good move to pick off two baserunners -- one at first and one at second -- during his outing.
The Bells take on the Gems again Tuesday night in the second contest of the three-game series. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.