Scott Heath hit a grand slam home run to highlight a five-run fifth inning and Bellingham avoided a sweep with an 8-1 win over the Bend Elks on Sunday, June 22 at Joe Martin Field.
Heath's second home run of the season broke a streak of 18 scoreless innings for the Bellingham offense and helped the Bells (9-5) to their fifth come-from-behind win of the season after Bend (5-10) took an early lead in the top of the fourth inning.
After a strikeout to begin the fifth inning, the next six Bells reached base safely. Center fielder Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) walked before left fielder Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) singled and Ian Yetsko (Oakland University) walked to load the bases. Heath turned on a 1-2 pitch and cleared the fence just to the right of the 350-foot sign in right-center field.
Third baseman Dallas Carroll (University of Utah) followed Heath with a base hit and designated hitter Dylan Garcia (Cal State Chico) was hit by a pitch to continue the rally. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Carroll scored the fifth run of the inning when catcher Conner Switzer (Lower Columbia) reached safely on a dropped third strike wild pitch.
In the seventh inning, three walks to begin the frame loaded the bases for Bellingham again and Heath scored his second run of the game when right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) hit into a 6-4-3 double play. An inning later, the first two Bells reached base safely and Heath continued his strong night with a 2-RBI single to right field, scoring Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga University) and Anderson.
Four Bellingham pitchers held the Elks to six hits and did not issue any walks. Ryan McMonigle (Concordia University) got the start and threw 3 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits. Reliever Dan Ludwig (Belmont University) earned the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. John Albert (Hawaii Pacific University) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning before David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) made his team-leading eighth relief appearance and shut down the Elks in the final two innings.
"As a pitcher, you don't always get to come to the ball park and know you're going to play," Bigelow said. "But this summer I've come every day knowing I'll have a pretty good chance, so it helps keep you ready and I just try to stay ready to go each game."
Heath (University of Maine) finished the game 3 for 3 with six RBI and two walks. Della Fera was 2 for 5 with a run scored and Carroll was 2 for 4 with a run scored. The Bells also stole five bases against the Elks.
The Bells were able to get the offense they needed after the Bellingham pitching staff held its opponent to three runs or fewer for the sixth consecutive game.
"Our pitchers -- I applaud them for keeping us in this ball game and allowing us to grind out some at-bats and finally get the blast that we need to carry us to victory," Bellingham assistant coach Mike Gange said.
The Bells play again on Tuesday night in non-league action against the Everett Merchants at Joe Martin Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.