Bellingham topped the Medford Rogues, 3-1 on Wednesday, clinching the West Coast League West Division title and a playoff berth in August.
Bellingham (34-12, 32-12 WCL) officially eliminated the Kitsap BlueJackets with the victory. Kitsap was the only remaining team with a mathematical chance to win the division title. Bellingham will now play its last 10 regular-season games on the road.
Right fielder Walker Olis (Pacific University) gave the Bells an early lead, hitting a solo home run well over the left-field wall to begin the bottom of the 2nd inning.
Bellingham added one run apiece in the 7th and 8th innings before holding off a Medford rally attempt in the 9th inning to secure the win. The Bells took advantage of defensive miscues by the Rogues to add the insurance runs.
Left fielder Danny Miller (Cal State Chico) delivered a two-out RBI single in the 7th inning, scoring second baseman Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga University). Breshears had reached on an error to begin the frame, and advanced to third base on two wild pitches.
First baseman Garret Harpole (Western Oregon University) reached on an error with two outs in the 8th inning, and center fielder Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) followed with a walk to put runners on first and second. A base hit to right field from Breshears scored Harpole, who looked to initially hold up rounding third base, but then scored with ease after the base hit was bobbled and misplayed by the Medford right fielder.
The Rogues erased the shutout in the 9th inning with back-to-back doubles from designated hitter Nathan Etheridge and left fielder Donald Glover Jr., the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the lineup. But Bellingham reliever David Bigelow (Gonzaga University) got a fly out and strikeout to end the game, earning his league-leading 12th save of the season.
Starting pitcher Ryan McMonigle (Concordia University) got the win for Bellingham, throwing five shutout innings and allowing only two hits. Grant Goodman (University of San Francisco), Andrew Summerville (Stanford University) and John Albert (Hawaii Pacific University) each threw a scoreless inning of relief before Bigelow closed the door in the 9th inning.
The game featured several impressive defensive plays, including a relay play to prevent the Rogues from tying the game in the 4th inning. With a runner on, first baseman Victor Garcia doubled to the right field wall. Glover, attempting to score on the play from first base, was thrown out at the plate as Olis fielded the ball and threw to Breshears, who relayed it home to catcher Eric Webber, nabbing Glover by several steps. Webber also threw out both Medford baserunners who attempted to steal in the game.
Glover made a fine defensive play himself, covering a long range to catch a foul ballt slightly short of the outfield wall just before he slammed into the fence separating the field of play from foul territory down the left-field line. The catch ended a run-scoring threat for Bellingham in the 5th inning, as the Bells had runners on first and third base before the fly out.
Bellingham has a day off Thursday, before opening a series against the Victoria HarbourCats in Canada on Friday. Following its series against the HarbourCats, the Bells will play four games against the Kitsap BlueJackets and finish with a three-game series at Cowlitz. Bellingham will host playoff games in August, but no other teams have clinched playoff spots yet. Thus, teams and game dates are yet to be determined.
First pitch against Victoria this Friday is set for 7:11 p.m.