Score early, hold on late. That was the Bells motto on Tuesday evening at the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Bremerton, WA. Two first inning runs and three runs in the second held up for the Bells, who were pushed to the brink, despite the mulit-run victory. Five runs held up against the BlueJackets, although Kitsap made it interesing late. With the victory, the Bells moved to a West Coast League-best 34-15, while Kitsap fell to 21-27.
"We didn't give them a lot of free bases," said Bells assistant coach Mike Gange. "Last night (Monday), we allowed too many free bases. Tonight, we made them work for what they got."
Eder Erives (Arizona State) tossed four innings of scoreless baseball with four strikeouts and only two hits allowed, while Albert picked up the victory in relief. As a team, Bellingham walked only one batter after allowing six baserunners via walk during Monday night's loss. Albert threw three innings of one-run ball with two strikeouts in the victory.
"John is always going to give us max-effort," Gange said. "Our offense came alive early and we were able to stake him to a good lead."
The Bells opened up the scoring with two runs in the first, thanks in large part to an error by Kitsap shortsop Zach Larsen (St. Martin's College) which kept the Bellingham first inning alive. After Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) doubled, Scott Heath (University of Maine) walked, putting runners at first and second for the Bells with only one out. The miscue by Larsen sent Breshears home, while an RBI single from Dallas Carroll (Utah) drove in Heath and the Bells led 2-0 after one inning.
"We made sure that we reached base in tonight's game," said Gange. "After that, we trusted our offense to bring in the runners who had reached."
While Erives was cruising, Kitsap starter Matt Narahara (University of San Francisco) was having trouble in the first two innings. After the Bells took a 2-0 lead, they were feasting for more when Chris Baker (University of Washington) and Nate Anderson (Bellevue College) doubled to provide Bellingham with runners in scoring position and no outs in the second. That's when Della Fera exploded on a two-run single that scored both Baker and Anderson. At this point, the Bells led 4-0. Breshears drew a four-pitch walk, while Heath grounded into a double play, pushing Della Fear to third. Danny Miller (Chico State) then promptly drove in Della Fera with a single that put Bellingham up, 5-0.
"Our offense tonight proved what it can do," Gange said. "We scored early and put the pressure on them."
The BlueJackets would manage only two runs- an RBI single by Blake Valley (University of San Francisco) scoring DAundray Van Slyke (St. Andrews Presbyterian College) and a hit batter in the ninth (Woodrow), which would force in a run. Kitsap left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, and mounted a true comeback that fell just short.
"Give them credit. They battled back when tney had to," said Gange. "Their lineup is tough. But so is our staff."
Kitsap earned the bases loaded with no outs in the ninth, only to watch in agony as Austin Hamilton (Western Oregon University) and Corbin Duffy singled to load the bases for the BlueJackets, yet failed to score. Jackson popped out to second, while Van Slyke also popped out, and after Woodrow was hit by a pitch forcing in a run in the ninth, Valley popped out to first base- leaving Kitsap with one run (and the bases loaded).
Albert moves to a stellar 3-0 this season with the victory, while Narahara falls to 4-3 this summer.
"John pitched very well for us tonight," Gange said. "He's one of those guys that we can count on when we need him the most."
Breshears finished with two hits and an RBI, while Baker collected two hits. The Bells are now 4-3 against Kitsap this season.
Wednesday's doubleheader is set to begin at 4pm PDT, with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play. The Bells Radio pregame show starts at 3:45pm. Be sure to follow the Bells broadcast team on Twitter: @BellsRaio before, during and after game action.