Dustin Breshears ignited the Bellingham offense with a 2-RBI triple and Nate Anderson added a 2-run single as the Bells defeated Kitsap 5-2 in front of a record crowd of 3,032 fans at Joe Martin Field on Tuesday, July 8.
Bellingham (22-5, 20-5 WCL) extended its win streak to 14 games, including 12 straight victories in West Coast League action. The WCL win streak is the third-longest in league history, trailing only winning streaks of 14 games and 13 games by the Wenatchee AppleSox in 2011 and 2005, respectively.
"It's between the ears -- it's a mental run," said Bellingham Assistant Coach Mike Gange of the win streak. "For the maturity of this ball club -- every single day these guys have really focused on what they need to accomplish and it seems to be a new hero almost every single night."
Facing an early 1-0 deficit, Breshears (Gonzaga University) gave the Bells a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning with a triple deep to left-center field. He placed a deep fly ball just out of the reach of the Kitsap center fielder on the warning track, scoring Anderson (Bellevue College) and left fielder Lou Della Fera (University of Maine).
Bellingham built the lead to two runs on a two-out single from designated hitter Scott Heath (University of Maine) in the bottom of the 5th inning, scoring shortstop Chris Baker (University of Washington). Baker had singled and then advanced into scoring position with a good read and jump from first base on a pitch that skipped away from the Kitsap catcher.
Kitsap had scored the first run of the evening in the 1st inning on a base hit from designated hitter Austin Bush, who singled home left fielder TJ Freidl. Freidl reached on a dropped third strike to begin the game. Kitsap had two hits and three baserunners in the first inning, but left two on base as the Bells limited the damage to one run.
The BlueJackets cut the Bellingham lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the 6th inning. A one-out double put the tying run in scoring position, and Kitsap second baseman Jeffrey Bohling followed with an RBI single. The BlueJackets put the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second base with two outs later in the inning but a groundout ended the threat. Dan Ludwig (Belmont University) relieved Bellingham starter Eder Erives (Arizona State University) during the inning and stranded two runners on base by getting the groundout to end the inning.
"Especially in situations like today where you have guys on base and you got close games like that, it's just throwing strikes and letting your defense pick you up," Ludwig said of his approach in relief. "And that's what I did today. All I wanted to do is get a ground ball, I'm not trying to do too much or strike anyone out because I know everyone is going to back me up behind me."
Anderson gave the Bells two insurance runs in the 8th inning on a two-out single up the middle with runners on second and third. Third baseman Dallas Carroll (University of Utah) led off the 8th inning with a walk and first baseman Danny Miller (Cal State Chico) was hit by a pitch to give the Bells two baserunners. Both scored on Anderson's single.
"I was just trying to get up there and be aggressive," said Anderson of his approach during his at-bat. "I just got a fastball, pretty much down the middle, and just relaxed and put a good swing on it and found a hole."
David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) earned his fifth save of the year, allowing only one baserunner in the 9th inning.
Erives earned the win after throwing 5 2/3 innings and striking out four. The Bells' pitchers struck out six Kitsap hitters while the Bellingham hitters did not strikeout at all against Kitsap.
Bellingham will go for the sweep on Wednesday night in the final game of the series against Kitsap. A win would tie Bellingham with the 2005 AppleSox for the second-longest WCL win streak in WCL history. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.