Danny Miller hit two 3-run home runs to lead Bellingham in a high-scoring comeback effort as the Bells overcame a five-run deficit to defeat the Everett Merchants 14-7 Wednesday, June 25 at Joe Martin Field.
Bellingham (11-5) trailed 7-6 entering the bottom of the eighth but sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs, highlighted by Miller's second long ball of the game.
For the second night in a row, a local left-handed pitcher held the Bellingham offense in check early. Matt Richard (Linfield College), a graduate of Bellingham High School, retired 12 of the first 14 batters he faced, including a stretch of 11 consecutive batters retired.
An early home run from Everett first baseman Jake Levin (Central Washington University) gave the Merchants (11-4) a 1-0 lead. Everett built the lead to 5-0 with a four-run fifth inning, collecting five hits and taking advantage of a Bellingham error in the frame. At one point, Everett was outhitting the Bells 11-1 before Bellingham's offense began to click.
Bellingham right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) walked with one out in the fifth, just the second Bells baserunner to that point. He scored Bellingham's first run after second baseman Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga University) and center fielder Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) hit back-to-back singles. Shortstop Chris Baker (University of Washington) then singled for the Bells' third consecutive hit, but Breshears was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Everett added another run via a solo home run from catcher Mark Medalia (Bellevue University) in the top of the sixth, but the Bells offense picked up where it left off in the fifth and came alive as 11 hitters batted in the bottom of the sixth. Bellingham scored five runs to close a 6-1 lead to a 6-6 tie. Back-to-back singles from catcher Eric Webber (Georgetown University) and designated hitter Scott Heath (University of Maine) began the inning before Miller went deep, hooking a home run just inside the foul pole down the right field line. Miller's home run marked the six consecutive hit for the Bells in the batting order, dating back to the fifth inning.
Two batters later, right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) homered over the left field fence, ending Richard's outing. A bases-loaded walk to Webber plated Bellingham's fifth run of the inning, tying the game at 6-6.
"To have goose eggs -- zeros up on the board up until the middle of the game and all of a sudden to turn that switch and understand at-bats and pitches -- guys are talking about their at-bats in the dugout, and it just feeds off," Bellingham assistant coach Mike Gange said.
Everett recaptured the lead in the eighth, scoring via a bases-loaded fielder's choice play on a slow ground ball. A leadoff single, a walk and a hit by pitch had loaded the bases. But the Bells answered in the bottom half of the frame.
The Bells sent 13 batters to the plate in the eighth, led by left fielder Jack Klein (Stanford University) and Anderson who each had two hits in the inning. Klein began the inning with a single, and Breshears reached safely when the Everett pitcher attempting to tag him during a sacrifice bunt attempt dropped the ball. Anderson then beat out a bunt for an infield single, and Webber brought home Klein and Breshears with base hit down the left field line under a diving Everett third baseman's glove, making the score 8-7.
"Our offense is so explosive that we're never really out of any game," Miller said. "it could be 10 to nothing in the third inning and we'll still try to fight to come back."
After a strikeout, Miller (Cal State Chico) connected for his second home run over the right field wall with two runners on base to give the Bells an 11-7 lead. Olis nearly matched Miller's home run total in the game two batters later, doubling off the top of the wall in left field and just missing his second long ball of the evening. Klein followed with a double and scored on Anderson's second hit of the inning before the Merchants finally put an end to the rally.
David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) got the win in relief for Bellingham. He pitched the top of the eighth inning with the Bells trailing, but was able to come out in the ninth inning backed by a 7-run lead, thanks to the Bells explosive offense.
Miller finished with 6 RBI, and seven Bells (Webber, Heath, Miller, Olis, Klein, Breshears, and Anderson) finished with at least two hits on the night.
Bellingham returns to action Friday against the Kelowna Falcons to resume West Coast League play. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.