Aaron Sandefur threw 7 innings and gave up just one hit as Bellingham held off the Kelowna Falcons for a 1-0 win on Saturday, June 28 at Joe Martin Field.
Kelowna (6-14) collected two of its three hits on the evening in the final inning, but reliever Hever Bueno (Arizona State University) ended the game with a strikeout, stranding runners on second and third base. The Bells improved to 11-5 in West Coast League action and earned their second shutout win in the last week.
The lone run came in the second inning as catcher Eric Webber (Georgetown University) led off with a single up the middle past a diving Kelowna second baseman. After a fly out, second baseman Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga University) advanced Webber to third with a ground out to second base. Webber scored on an error when a ground ball hit by centerfielder Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) was mishandled by the Kelowna second baseman.
"There's a lot of different ways to win a baseball game, and tonight it was pitching and defense," Bellingham pitching coach Jim Clem said. "Fortunately, we did scratch out a run and then our pitchers made it stand up."
Breshears had the only other hit for Bellingham, a leadoff double to shallow right field to begin the fifth inning. However, a fly out and two ground outs ended the threat and began a stretch of eight consecutive Bellingham hitters retired. The Bells, who entered the game averaging better than seven runs per game, managed just six base runners on the evening.
Sandefur's outing helped carry the Bells, as the Bellingham offense was held in check by Kelowna starter Sam Murphy (University of Nebraska Omaha) and reliever Brett Salano (Lewis & Clark CC). Sandefur retired the leadoff hitter in six of the seven innings he pitched, a night after the Falcons had kept constant pressure on the Bells when the leadoff hitter reached safely in six of the nine innings. He struck out five, and scattered five walks while not allowing a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning.
Sandefur (Bellevue College) spoke with Bellingham broadcaster Dave Grant on the postgame show and talked about his pitching mentaility to work ahead in counts against the Falcons.
"Definitely to get ahead, I wanted to throw a lot of strikes," Sandefur said. "Unfortunately, at the beginning, I had a few too many walks but once I settled down, I made a few pitching mechanical adjustments with Coach Clem and I was able to pitch down a little better and get ahead, work ahead of those hitters."
Burk FitzPatrick (University of Maine) pitched the eighth inning, retiring the first two hitters he faced before a two-out walk to leadoff hitter Tyler Brown (College of Southern Nevada). Brown stole second and the throw from Webber went into center field. Brown attempted to take third base, but a strong throw from Anderson, who was backing up the play, nailed the runner on a bang-bang play at third base to end the inning and keep the shutout intact.
A bloop single to shallow left field began the ninth for Kelowna against Bueno before a pop out and a fielder's choice. Left fielder Nick Minteer (Gonzaga University) singled to right, and both hitters advanced a base on a wild pitch. But Bueno got Kelowna catcher Erik Colombini (Sonoma State) to strike out looking, ending the game and giving Bellingham its fifth win in a row.
"I have great confidence in my bullpen," Sandefur said. "They've been great all year long and I knew if I kept us in the game long enough our bullpen would come in and do the job and shut them down, and they did."
The Bells will go for the sweep against Kelowna in the final game of the series on Sunday before heading out on a three-game road trip to Wenatchee. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m.