Zach Johnson threw seven strong innings to lead Bellingham in a pitchers' duel and the Bells got timely hitting late in the game to edge the Victoria Harbourcats, 2-1 on Monday, July 14 at Joe Martin Field.
Bellingham (26-6, 24-6 WCL) broke a scoreless tie in the 7th inning as shortstop Colby Woodmansee (Arizona State University) scored designated hitter Dallas Carroll (University of Utah) with a single just over the head of the Victoria shortstop. Carroll walked to begin the inning before stealing second and then advanced to third on a groundout to first base. Bellingham added a second run in the bottom of the 8th inning after left fielder Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) tripled to right-center field and later scored on a wild pitch.
David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) earned the save in the 9th inning, stranding the tying and go-ahead runners on base as Bellingham earned its fourth win in a row. Victoria doubled its hit total in the game during the final frame, as three of the first four hitters to the plate singled. The third single scored a run, leaving runners on first and second. A groundout to first base moved both runners into scoring position. But Bigelow induced a groundout to end the game, as new Bellingham Bell Garret Harpole (Western Oregon University) made a nice play, ranging to his left and throwing on the run to get the out at first and end the game.
Johnson (Edmonds CC) struck out four and allowed just three hits over seven innings. He also picked off three runners, using a deceptive move that caught two of the three runners so far off of first that they took off for second base, rather than attempting to dive back to first base.
"He battled tonight," Bellingham Assistant Coach Mike Gange said of Johnson. "He kept his pitch count down so we were able to extend him out. First pitch strikes, getting leadoff outs was fantastic. When he did get into some trouble, he was able to use that pickoff move."
Gange praised the work of catcher Ian Yetsko (Oakland University) on the postgame radio show. Yetsko, who splits time with three other catchers behind the plate while also playing infield for Bellingham, caught Johnson, reliever Burk FitzPatrick (University of Maine) and Bigelow during the dominating pitching performance.
Yetsko acknowledge the difficulty of catching three pitchers he hasn't caught frequently this summer, but explained how approaches the task on the postgame show.
"It definitely is (tough), but you have to use the warm-up pitches to your advantage that you get in between innings," Yetsko said. "And our pitchers are amazing. Pitching and defense wins championships and that's a lot of what are record (is) right now. Home runs win ball games -- which we've had a couple of those too, from the big boys on our team. Great team so far -- I'm pretty excited for the rest of the summer."
Victoria starter Mikey Wright (San Jose State University) pitched eight strong innings, retiring 15 hitters in a row at one point. With Wright and Johnson both pitching efficiently, the game moved quickly until Bellingham was able to break the groove and send six hitters to the plate in the 7th inning.
The Bells continue their six-game homestand Tuesday night in the second game of the three-game series against the HarbourCats. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.