On a drizzly, wet and cold night at the Kitsap Fairgrounds, the Bells went down again early, only to fight their way back and turn a five-run deficit into a near comeback win for the fourth consecutive game. With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Danny Miller (Chico State) and Walker Olis (Pacific University) singled and Dylan Garcia (Chico State) walked to load the bases for the Bells. Chris Baker (Universit of Washington) and Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) singled in two runs, while pinch-hitter Colby Woodmansee (Arizona State) hit a sacrifice fly to pull within 10-8 of the BlueJackets, who at one point held a 7-2 advantage. It would be as close as Bellingham would get to Kitsap on Saturday, however, as a strikeout ended the game and left the tying run stranded at second base.
"Our guys have no quit in them," said assistant coach Dane Siegfried on the postgame interview. "What they showed tonight is what they have proven all season long- they fight until the end."
Bells starter Zach Cramer (Stanford) lasted only three innings in his Bells debut, allowing three hits and three runs- one earned- with two strikeouts. Southpaw Dan Ludwig (Belmont) pitched very well in relief, spinning 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball while striking out four Kitsap hitters. Hever Bueno (Arizona State) struck out three in a scoreless ninth inning.
"He's a very good arm out of our pen with really good stuff," said Siegfried of Ludwig. "He is just so confident out there for us."
Garcia crushed his first home run of the seaon over the right field wall for a two-run blast that scored Olis in the sixth inning that pulled the Bells to within 7-5 of the BlueJackets, only to have Kitsap score three times in the bottom of the seventh to take a 10-5 lead. Whenever Bellingham scored, it seemed the BlueJackets had an answer. Dylan LaVelle (Everett College) hit a two-run homer in the second for Kitsap to open the scoring. A four run fourth inning that featured four BlueJacket hits put Bellingham behind, 7-2. Three more runs in the seventh by Kistap gave them a five-run lead until the Bells turned in another late rally, this time in the ninth.
"We were feeling very confident in the dugout," said Siegfried when asked what the atmosphere was like during the comeback rally. "We knew what we had to do and everyone felt strong going to the plate."
Thomas Casey (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) worked five innings, scattering eight hits and allowing five runs while walking three and striking out three to earn his first win of the season. Bellingham was able to scored three times off Kitsap reliever Anthony Blackie (Everett) in the ninth until Byron Baker (Montana State University at Billings) was able to extinguish the Bells one final time with a strikeout to strand the tying run at second base.
"We came back again and that shows a lot," Siegfried said. "We are just getting some key pieces to our lineup for the first time. It's special to be a part of what we are doing."
Olis joined Siegfried in echoing the coaches excitement about the new players making an impact right away. Woodmansee has already hit two home runs, while Baker had two hits and an RBI in his first action with Bellingham this season. Olis finished with three hits- two doubles and a single, with two runs scored and an RBI.
"These guys are such good players," Olis said on the postgame interview. "The collection of talent we have here is really fun to be a part of."
The loss puts the Bells in a four-way tie at 5-3 in the West Coast League West Division with Cowlitz, Kitsap and Victoria. Bellingham has now scored a league-best 71 runs and has collected 98 hits through seven games this season. As a team, the Bells are hitting .323 and play a pivotal final game of the series on Sunday against Kitsap. First pitch is set for 3:05 PM PDT, with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play on AM 930 KBAI starting with the pre-game show at 2:35 PM PDT. The action can also be heard online through the Bells official website, www.bellinghambells.com.