The Bells took an early lead on a Chris Baker (University of Washington) RBI double, but Victoria tied the game on a solo HR from Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine) and then collected three runs in the fifth inning to take a lead that they would not relinquish. The defeat snapped Bellingham's two game winning streak as the Bells lost for only the 13th time this season. The HarbourCats improved to 21-25 in the West Coast League while the Bells are still a WCL-best 32-13.
Gabe Cramer (Stanford) rolled through the first three innings, allowing four hits- stranding all four- with five strikeouts, including the side in the second. Armed with a 1-0 lead, Cramer then allowed Barnett's first home run of the season to knot the score, before the HarbourCats used three hits to snatch the lead in the fifth, 4-1. Logan Lombana (Long Beach State) spun seven innings of two-run baseball, picking up his third win of the season. Carson Schneider (University of New Mexico) tossed two innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts without allowing a hit to pick up his second save.
Five Victoria hitters collected two hits apiece, including Barnett, who finished with his first home run of the season and Gabe Clark (Oregon State) who tallied two singles and two RBI. The HarbourCats left 10 runners on base, while the Bells left six. Lou Della Fera (Maine) and Scott Heath (Maine) scored both of the Bellingham runs, while two relievers combined to hold the HarbourCats at bay after Cramer's departure in the fifth. Burk FitzPatrick (University of Delaware) and Mo Ceja (UCLA) hurled 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to keep the Bells close.
During the three-run fifth inning, Victoria got a leadoff double from Nathan Lukes (Sacramento State) and Hunter Mercado-Hood (University of San Diego) walked to put runners at the corners. Clark then singled in both Lukes and Mercado-Hood, while Jake Lesinski (Cal Poly) doubled in Clark. The Bells would add a lone run in the sixth inning after Heath singled to lead off the frame. Eric Webber (Georgetown) finished with three singles and drove in Heath to slice the Victoria lead to 4-2. But that is as close the Bells would get on this night.
Bellingham dropped only their fifth WCL series opener of the season, yet have rebounded from losing openers recently. In fact, after dropping the opener against both Yakima Valley and Medford, Bellingham came back to win the series. With the victory, the HarbourCats won for the second this season against the Bells after Bellingham swept Victoria in B.C. June 16-18.
Saturday night's second game of the series is slated for 7:11pm PDT at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park against the HarbourCats. Michael Rucker (BYU) is Bellingham's probable starter, while the action can be heard on AM 930 KBAI or online at 930kbai.com. Dave Grant will have the play-by-play, beginning at 6:35pm. Follow the Bells broadcast team on Twitter: @BellsRadio and be sure to visit bellinghambells.com for upcoming schedule information.