The Bells have made a living this season falling behind early in games only to come back and claim victory. On Saturday night, they battled back but were outlasted by Victoria in 11 innings, 6-5 at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, British Columbia. The HarbourCats had leads of 4-0 and 5-2 but watched as Bellingham clawed their way back, tying the score at five through five innings. Jack Klein (Stanford) blasted his first home run of the season while Dan Ludwig (Belmont) tossed four innings of scoreless relief. The Bells fall to 32-14 in West Coast League play with the loss, while Victoria improves to 22-25. Bellingham has now lost two consecutive games and were beaten in a series for the first time since losing two of three games against Corvallis from July 17-19.
Victoria jumped on Bellingham starter Michael Rucker (BYU) in the first inning, after the Bells committed an error, Hunter Mercado-Hood (University of San Diego) singled and Gabe Clark (Oregon State) walked. HarbourCats catcher Jake Lesinski (Cal Poly) then promptly cleared the bases with a double. Lesinski then scored on an error by Bells shortstop Chris Baker (Washington) as Victoria led 4-0 after one inning. Klein then led off the third inning for the Bells with a mammoth shot to left-centerfield, his home run landing on top of the video scoreboard. Bellingham would add another run in the third on an RBI single by Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) who drove in Lou Della Fera (University of Maine).
Nathan Lukes (Sacramento State) singled in Bryce Greager (Univerity of Nevada-Reno) to provide the HarbourCats with a 5-2 advantage after three innings. Bellingham came right back with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth inning, highlighted by runs scored by Dallas Carroll (Utah) and Baker and an RBI siingle from Hank Elliott (Chemeketa College) in slicing the deficit to 5-4. The Bells used an inning-ending double-play to extinguish the HarbourCats in the fourth, as Rucker finished allowing five runs (none earned) on seven hits with two strikeouts. Three errors by the Bells through the first three innings did not help Rucker's cause.
Andrew Nelson (Kentucky) scattered seven hits in five innings and struck out four, allowing three earned runs for Victoria. Carroll would drive in the tying run in the fifth inning with a single, driving in Breshears. HarbourCats reliever Preston Ryan (University of New Mexico) picked up the win in relief, spinning six innings of shutout relief while striking out five. After the fifth, neither team would score until Victoria walked-off in the 11th.
Ludwig was masterful in four innnigs of relief, striking out two and allowing two hits in his scoreless outing. Andrew Summerville (Stanford) struck out four in relief for the Bells, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the 11th. After retiring the first two batters, the southpaw allowed an infield single to Lukes, walked Griffin Andreychuk (Seattle University) and a single to Mercado-Hood which loaded the bases for Clark. David Bigelow (Gonzaga), who leads the West Coast League with 12 saves, entered the game for Summerville and walked Clark on four pitches, forcing in the game-winning and walk-off run. Summerville picked up the loss, falling to 1-2 this season.
The Bellingham defense, while committing three errors, turned two double plays in the loss. Both the Bells and HarbourCats left 11 runners on base, including Victoria, who left the potential game-winning runs on base in both the ninth and tenth. After Scott Heath (University of Maine) singled and Danny Miller (Chico State) doubled to lead off the 10th, the Bells were unable to muster a run with runners on second and third and no outs.
Sunday's series finale is set for 1:05pm PDT at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, B.C. The pregame show begins at 12:35pm and will include a special interview with Bells pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Jim Clem. Dave Grant will have the play-by-play and can be heard on AM 930 KBAI or online and 930kbai.com. Be sure to follow the Bells broadcast team on Twitter: @BellsRadio.