Bellingham was unable to maintain a one-run lead in a pitchers' duel against Bend, as the Elks rallied for two eighth-inning runs and edged the Bells 2-1 Friday, June 21 at Joe Martin Field.
The Bells entered the game riding a three-game win streak after scoring 23 runs in a three-game set at Victoria, but were held to one run on three hits and struck out 14 times against the Bend pitchers.
Right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI single through the six-hole to score third baseman Dallas Carroll (University of Utah). Carroll had walked to break a streak of 11 consecutive batters retired by Bend starter Austin Guzzon (Corban College). Designated hitter Dylan Garcia (Cal State Chico) followed with a single up the middle and Carroll, who was attempting a steal on the pitch, reached third base on the play which put runners on first and third for Olis.
Bend rallied in the eighth inning as pinch-hitter Jake Peevyhouse (Arizona State) singled to open the inning, giving the Elks their first hit since the third frame. A sacrifice bunt and a walk put runners on first and second.
Bellingham starter Aaron Sandefur (Bellevue College) was replaced by Hever Bueno (Arizona State) with one out in the inning. Bueno did not allow a hit, but the Elks still managed to score both runners left on base by Sandefur, as a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position and an RBI groundout tied the game at 1-1. A balk was called on Bueno with the go-ahead run on third, giving Bend the lead.
Sandefur took the unfortunate loss, striking out five and allowing just three hits. The right-hander threw 7.1 innings, including a stretch of 13 consecutive batters retired. David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to keep the Elks from building a bigger lead.
"Aaron Sandefur pitched a great game," Bells pitching coach Jim Clem said. "We couldn't have asked him to do any more than he did and our relievers did a really good job too, it was just they took advantage of a break or two that they were given and we didn't do that when they were given to us."
Jesse Pratt (Western Oregon University) earned the win for the Elks, entering the game with two outs in the sixth inning and retiring all 10 hitters he faced. With the Bells looking to rally in the bottom of the ninth, Pratt struck out the first two Bells he faced before inducing a groundout to end the game. Guzzon struck out nine batters and allowed only three hits against Bellingham's league-leading offense.
"Sometimes it doesn't turn out the way you want it to," Clem said. "It was just a great ball game and we've been playing very well so there's no disappointment here. You like to win every game -- it's baseball that doesn't happen, so you just go out and play the best you can every night and hope the next night is going to be your night."
The Bells are yet to lose two consecutive games this season, and will look to bounce back with a win tomorrow as they host Bend in the second game of the three-game set. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.