With a rainout on Sunday afternoon in Kitsap, the Bellingham Bells were disappointed that they couldn't finish a West Coast League West Division series. Victoria, meanwhile, played late Sunday night in Bend, Oreg. against the Elks and traveled back home Monday morning, getting back shortly before Monday's first pitch. Bellingham wasted little time taking out their frustrations on the road weary HarbourCats, as the Bells got a two-run home run from Scott Heath (University of Maine) in the first inning and took the early momentum in what turned into a 9-1 win over the HarbourCats in Victoria, B.C. on Monday night at Royal Athletic Park.
Four Bellingham hitters collected at least two hits, including Heath, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Bellingham is now 6-3 overall in West Coast League play and getting contributions from every part of their roster.
"What a great way to start a game- it kind of takes the pressure off and everyone can kind of relax," said Bells pitching coach Jim Clem on tonight's postgame show on Heath's opening inning blast. "You saw how we played- it might have been our best game tonight."
Grant Goodman (University of San Francisco) spun a gem, allowing only one hit through six innings with a season-high seven strikeouts and picked up his first win of the summer. He did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fourth inning, working out of jams in both the second and fourth innings and both times ending the threats with a strikeout. Moises Ceja (UCLA) saw his first action of the summer, tossing two innings of relief while allowing one earned run and striking out two. David Bigelow (Gonzaga) pitched his team-high sixth relief performance of the season, striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
"His adjustments were made by him," Clem said of Goodman's performance. "He really did a terrific job tonight, kept ahead of hitters and kept the leadoff hitters off base."
After Heath's home run in the first, the Bellingham offense struggled against Victoria starter Logan Lombana (Long Beach State), who allowed four hits in the opening inning and then didn't allow another until there were two outs in the sixth on a double by Danny Miller (Chico State). The HarbourCats had no answers offensively, as they were stymied by Goodman all night long, despite his five walks. A double-play in the fourth and a pickoff by catcher Eric Webber (Georgetown) showed truly how talented the Bellingham defense is behind their pitching staff. Lombana took the loss, though the HarbourCats bullpen didn't fare much better, allowing five earned runs in the final three innings.
A double by Walker Olis (Pacific University) opened the seventh inning and Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) promptly drove him home with an RBI single. Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) reached on an infield single, and with all three position players- pitcher, third base and catcher- charging the bunt, Breshears went from first to third on a terrific display of hustle and instincts. Breshears and Anderson would score in the inning as Bellingham opened up a 5-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Victoria would add their lone run on an RBI single by Devin Carter to cut the deficit to 5-1.
"That's a hustle play- it's the kind of play that breaks the other team's back," Clem said of Breshear's baserunning. "Our guys are good baserunners because they are always looking to take an extra base."
Baker, Breshears and Heath all scored twice, while Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) drove in two runs with a double in the ninth inning. Bellingham would add four runs in the ninth to go up 9-1 and put the finishing touches on another splendid offensive performance. The Bells have now scored six runs or more in all but one of their first nine games and lead the entire West Coast League with 80 runs scored. As a team, this group is hitting a league-best .328 and leads all teams with 112 hits.
"I think we've proven now that it's not an accident," said Clem of Bellingham's offensive explosion to begin the season. "They make some adjustments in batting practice and this group of guys take their at-bats serious."
The second game of the series between Bellingham and Victoria is slated for Tuesday with the first pitch set for 7:11 PM PDT. The pregame show begins at 6:50 PM PDT, with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play. Use www.bellinghambells and the "listen live" link to tune in.