Dallas Carroll hit a go-ahead RBI single to highlight a two-run 8th inning as Bellingham rallied to win its 12th game in a row, taking down the Cowlitz Black Bears 3-1 on Saturday, July 5 at Joe Martin Field.
With the win, the Bells (20-5, 18-5 West Coast League) earned a sweep of Cowlitz (11-13 WCL), marking the third straight WCL series sweep for Bellingham.
"It's been, honestly, one of the best runs I've ever been a part of," Bellingham pitching coach Jim Clem said.
Tied at 1-1 entering the bottom of the 8th, center fielder Jack Klein (Stanford University) led off with a walk. A sacrifice bunt from Eric Webber (Georgetown University) moved Klein to second base before Carroll (University of Utah) came through with a single to the right-center field gap, scoring Klein without an attempted throw to the plate.
Bellingham continued to rally as first baseman Scott Heath (University of Maine) reached on an error before designated hitter Jimmy Sinatro (Gonzaga University) singled to load the bases with one out. Cowlitz worked out of the jam, but not before Heath scored on a wild pitch to give Bellingham a 3-1 lead.
David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning to earn the save, making his team-leading 15th relief appearance in WCL action.
"Every time you go out there, your adrenaline kind of gets going in the 9th inning," Bigelow said. "You kind of just try to treat it like any other inning, but at the same time it's hard to do. Our starters have just been doing such a great job that at this point you don't want to let them down."
For the third game in a row, Cowlitz tied Bellingham at 1-1, scoring a run on a two-out RBI single by first baseman Chris Iriart. Bellingham was a strike away from keeping the shutout intact, but Iriart lofted a single just over the head of second baseman Ian Yetsko (Oakland University) to score third baseman Taylor Bryant, who led off the inning with a walk.
Bellingham scored one run in the 5th inning for the third straight game after right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) opened the inning with a hard-hit double to left field. Shortstop Colby Woodmansee (Arizona State University) then singled to left field, hitting a line drive that deflected off a leaping Cowlitz third baseman's glove and bounced into shallow left field, allowing Olis to score without a throw.
Starting pitcher Gabe Cramer (Stanford University) got the win, pitching six strong innings and striking out seven. Moises Ceja (UCLA) and Andrew Summerville (Stanford University) each pitched an inning of relief before Bigelow entered the game.
Following Saturday's win, the Bellingham pitching staff lowered its league-leading team ERA to 2.20. The Bells allowed just three total runs in 35 innings of work during the series against Cowlitz. During the win streak, the Bells have allowed just two earned runs in the last 54 innings.
"I just tried to get after hitters tonight," Cramer said. "We're on kind of a special run right now, and nobody really wants to be the guy to stop it. So you're just trying to get out there and attack hitters and make them beat you."
Clem spoke highly of the pitching staff during the postgame radio interview, and noted the continual improvement of the staff.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the guys, they've responded so well," Clem said. "And they've all just gotten better. The thing that we're seeing in our pitchers is just improvement, weekly."
Bellingham has an off day Sunday, before returning to WCL West Division action against the Kitsap BlueJackets on Monday night. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.