For the second straight night, the Bells scored first and used the early run support to beat Wenatchee. Bellingham improved to 14-5 in West Coast League play and 16-5 overall with a 6-2 victory over Wenatchee on Tuesday night at Paul Thomas Sr. Field in Wenatchee, Wash. A costly error by the AppleSox in the second inning allowed both Miller and Jimmy Sinatro (Gonzaga) to score, while Grant Goodman (University of San Francisco) allowed only one hit and one run in five innings to earn his second win of the season.
"I had some things that I was working on coming into tonight," Goodman said. "I feel I executed those things and pitched well after giving up a couple of early walks."
Miller hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season on a 1-0 count that he deposited over the right field wall on a line drive that left the park in a hurry. It provided the Bells with a three-run lead that also proved to be the winning runs.
"That was a big hit by Danny," said Bells pitching coach Jim Clem of Miller's two-run blast in the fifth. "It was anybody's ballgame at that point and it really gave us momentum."
Bellingham would take a close 4-2 lead with them into the eighth inning, where aggressive baserunning provided the Bells with two more runs and a lead they would not relinquish. After Heath had walked, Danny Miller singled and Wenatchee centerfielder Sam Brown (Gonzaga) was late getting to the ball. Heath went to third from first and Miller then took second on the throw to third, giving the Bells runners in scoring position with only one out, leading by two runs. A passed ball enabled Heath to score from third as Miller advanced from second, and an RBI single by Sinatro pushed the lead to 6-2. Three more Bellingham relievers combined to keep the AppleSox offense at bay for the second night in a row after Goodman departed after the fifth.
"Guys are playing well on both sides of the baseball- this is not an easy place to play," Clem said. "Goodman really pitched well with runners on base tonight."
Wenatchee would not go away, however, as they made threats in the sixth through eighth innings- but each time stranding a runner at third base. In fact, a throwing error by Dan Ludwig (Belmont) allowed one AppleSox run to score in the seventh, before he would strike out Sam Brown (Gonzaga) and get Caleb Wood (Gonzaga) to fly out to left field and end the threat. The combination of Ludwig, Burk FitzPatrick (Maine) and Bigelow combined for only one unearned run and three strikeouts out of the Bells bullpen. Bigelow retired the side in order in the ninth after recording the final out in the eight. In all, the AppleSox stranded 10 runners for the second straight night.
"They've all gotten better," said Clem of Bellingham's starting pitching over the last few weeks. "They are gaining confidence as we go on- I'm proud of these guys."
Wenatchee starter Brandon Bailey (Gonzaga) had not allowed a single run through his first 12.1 innings this season, took the loss, though he pitched well enough to win. He allowed only one earned run through four innings with five strikeouts. Calvin LeBrun (Gonzaga) was roughed up, allowing Miller's shot in the fifth and finishing with a line of four runs allowed on four hits in four innings.
The eight game winning streak is a season high for Bellingham. After defeating Bend in the series finale last Sunday to begin the streak, the Bells have not lost since June 21 and have outscored the opposition during the run, 31-9.
"Honestly, I didn't even know it was eight in a row," Clem said. "We are taking it one day at a time and one game at a time. Every day is a new challenge and you have to come out everyday and prove yourself."
Clem is as impressed as anyone with the way Bellingham is playing right now. It's a total team effort and with so many talented players able to play multiple positions, it provides Bellingham with several options every night.
"Everyone is out to prove themselves. It's very competitive," he said. "It doesn't matter who we have out there, every guy that has played for us has contributed."
Goodman described how well this Bellingham team is playing by the simple fact that everyone on the team gets along- and with that, the wins keep coming.
"I don't know how we get along so well together," Goodman said of his teammates. "Ever since the beginning we've all gotten along- we all click really well."
Wednesday's finale against Wenatchee is set for 7:05pm PDT with Eder Erives (Arizona St.) the probable starter for the Bells. The broadcast begins at 6:45pm PDT through the Bells website with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play.