Entering Wednesday night's action at Yakima County Stadium, the Bells realized this simple, yet imporant fact- win or face a four game losing streak. The Pippins made sure to make the Bells sweat it out, as two late runs in the seventh inning trimmed Bellingham's lead to one, 5-4. Yakima Valley left the tying run on third base in both the seventh and eighth innings, only to have the Bellingham bullpen extinguish the fire. In the ninth, the Pippins left the tying run at second base and the winning run at first, as David Bigelow (Gonzaga) recorded his West Coast League-leading ninth save. Andrew Summerville (Stanford) struck out both Ryan Yamane (Northern Colorado) and Troy LaBrie (Gonzaga)- both looking- to end the eighth.
"That's an eighteen year old kid out there who got out of a really tough jam," said Bells assistant coach Mike Gange of Summerville on the Bells Radio postgame show. "That was a special moment in the ballgame."
Backed by Carroll's first home run of the season and Woodmansee's sixth, Bells starter Gabe Cramer worked six effective innings, allowing only three hits and two runs for his second victory of the summer.
"Gabe's a competitor" Gange said. "He was a bulldog out there. He showed us tonight that he has that competitiveness in him."
A sac-fly RBI by Laz Villa (Cal State Northridge) and an RBI flyout off the bat of Justin Jacobs (Lower Columbia College) put Yakima Valley ahead, 2-1 after three innings. That's when the Bells exploded for four runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Woodmansee's blast to the opposite field that tied the game. Garret Harpole (Western Oregon University) and Chris Baker (University of Washington) both had RBI doubles to give Bellingham a 5-2 advantage.
"Our sticks came alive tonight and that's really fun to watch" said Gange. "Both Dallas and Colby had opposite field shots that gave us some early momentum."
Pippins starter Beau Kerns (Lewis and Clark) allowed four earned runs on six hits, taking his fourth loss of the season and failed to strike out a single batter in five innings of work. Mitch Yada (Central Washington University) struck out six in spectacular relief for Yakima Valley, tossing four innings of one-run baseball and keeping the home team Pippins close enough to threaten late in the game on mulitiple occassions. For the second consecutive night, Yakima Valley left nine runners on base.
"It's nice to win this game- this is a good game to win" Gange said. "To have a chance to take this series tomorrow is huge going into our next series against Cowlitz."
Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) drove in Baker with a clutch RBI single in the seventh that proved to be game-winning run for the Bells. Della Fera finished with two hits, including a double and the crucial RBI. Both Harpole and Baker ended the night with two hits apiece and Bellingham managed to scored more than four runs in a game for the first time since July 16th. The victory snapped a season-high three game slide and gave the Bells an opportunity to take a road series from a very tough Pippins team.
"To know that we can win these types of ballgames and be comfortable in them is going to lead to good things," said Gange. "We told the guys already- get comfortable in one run games moving forward."
Thursday's series finale is scheduled for 7:05pm PDT from Yakima County Stadium and the winner will capture a huge, post All-Star break series. Grant Goodman (University of San Francisco) is slated to toe the rubber for the Bells, while righty Austin Woodward (Oregon State) is Yakima Valley's probable starter. The Bells Radio pregame begins at 6:45pm with Dave Grant calling the action. Check www.bellinghambells.com for complete schedule information and don't forget to follow the Bells on both @bellsradio and @bhambells on Twitter.