One tough inning did in the Bells on Monday night, as the Kitsap BlueJackets chased starter Aaron Sandefur (Bellevue College) in the fifth at the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Bremerton, Wash . After Olis led off the second inning with his third homer of the season, Kitsap went to work and capitalized on three walks, a hit batter and an error after not collecting a hit off Sandefur until the fifth frame. The BlueJackets made the big fifth inning hold up and beat the Bells, 6-2. Bellingham managed only four hits the entire evening off BlueJackets starter Josh Moss (St. Martin's College), who spun eight innings of two run baseball with seven strikeouts. Sandefur took the loss, falling to 5-3 this season while Moss picked up his sixth win of the 2014 campaign. The Bells are now 33-15 in West Coast League play and Kitsap improves to 21-16 with the victory.
"Aaron pitched well, but gave up too many free bases early on," said Bells assistant coach Mike Gange. "Kitsap took advantage of the free bases and capitalized when they needed to."
Sandefur's outing consisted of an uncharacterstic five walks, two hit batters and a two-base throwing error that allowed two runs to score. He walked both Nick Choruby (Texas A&M) and Daniel Patzlaff (University of Oregon) to lead off the fifth before Jeffrey Bohling (Gonzaga) bunted back to the pitcher. Sandefur fielded the bunt and threw high to first base, which sailed down the right field line as both Choruby and Patzlaff came across to score. After an Alex Sablan (Olympic College) groundout pushed Bohling to third base with one out, Zach Larsen (St. Martin's College) then singled him in to put Kitsap up 3-1. Daniel Woodrow (Creighton) was then hit by a pitch and pinch-hitter Austin Hamilton (Western Oregon University) then drove him in to force Sandefur from the game. Kitsap sent 11 batters to the plate in the six run 5th inning that KO'd the West Coast League All-Star.
"One bad inning is what we had tonight," Gange said. "The crooked number they put up was enough for them to win."
Bellingham had no answer for southpaw Moss, who was staked to a five run lead after only making one mistake on Olis's third round tripper of the season in the second inning. Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) drove in the Bells second run in the eighth inning with his 25th RBI of the season, scoring Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) to trim the deficit to 6-2. Only Breshears, Lou Della Fera (University of Maine), Jack Klein (Stanford) and Olis (Pacific University) were able to connect for hits off Moss on Monday night.
Breshears has now hit safely in 11 consecutive games and has tallied 17 hits and nine RBI during the streak. Kitsap left eight men on base, including four in the first two innings. Bellingham managed only two runners past second base during the game and had only seven base runners total during the loss.
"We'll come back tomorrow ready to go," said Gange. "We have three more games in this series, including a doubleheader on Wednesday. Our guys will be ready."
Andrew Summerville (Stanford) allowed an earned run in 1.2 innings of relief with four strikeouts, including striking out the side in the sixth. Mo Ceja (UCLA) threw very well in his two relief innings, retiring all six batters he faced in order in both the seventh and eighth innings.
The Bells have lost three out of their past four games and have now dropped five of their last six series openers. Bellingham carries a slim 2.5 game lead on Yakima Valley (who have won eight straight) with six games left during the regular season for home field advantage in the divisional round of the playoffs. Corvallis (32-16) is one game behind the Bells for the best record in the West Coast League and begins a series with Bend (who leads the wild card race) on Tuesday. Bellingham has six regular season games left and needs to keep winning in order to assure themselves of home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
Tuesday's second game of the series is slated to begin at 6:35pm PDT from the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Bremerton, Wash. The pregame begins at 6:20pm with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play. The Bells broadcast team can be followed before, during and after game action on Twitter: @BellsRadio. For playoff ticket information, visit www.bellinghambells.com or call (360) 527-1035.