Bellingham had not been swept in a series at any point this season and wasn’t about to be on Sunday. Martinez (Arizona State) took it upon himself to make sure that it didn’t happen, as he won his sixth game of the season without a single loss and dominated the Cowlitz lineup all evening long. The righty has not lost a single game at the collegiate level (he went 5-0 as a freshman at ASU this past spring), retiring 10 consecutive hitters before his departure after seven innings.
“What makes Seth so special is that he gets ahead of hitters,” said Bells pitching coach Jim Clem. “He’s not going to blow you away. He is just so good with his control that it makes life really tough on the opposition.”
Martinez was so dominant that he struck out the same hitter twice on three different occasions and allowed only five total base-runners. A West Coast League All-Star this summer, he finished with a miniscule 2.07 ERA while the opposition hit a miniature .147 against him.
“We always feel like we have a good chance to win with Seth on the hill.” Bells assistant coach Dane Siegfried said. “He did a tremendous job again for us tonight, and we were able to get a much needed win heading into the playoffs.”
The victory on Sunday night ensured the Bells the best overall record in the West Coast League this season at 37-17. It also provided them a springboard into the Divisional playoffs, that begin on Tuesday night at Yakima Valley. Klein finished with four more hits on Sunday, while five different Bells players tallied runs. After Bellingham committed two errors in Saturday’s shutout loss, it was the Black Bears who were hurt by miscues. Walker Olis (Pacific University) reached on an error in the fourth and came across to score the first run of the contest.
With Martinez on cruise control, Danny Miller (Chico State) drove in Dallas Carroll (Utah) with a sac-fly in the fifth to supply Bellingham with a 2-0 lead. Scott Heath (University of Maine) walked with two outs in the sixth and scored all the way from first on a double from Miller. The Bells would tack on two more runs in the eighth, as Lou Della Fera (University of Maine) drove in a run with a single and both Klein and Della Fera scored a run for a 5-0 advantage. Bellingham smashed 11 hits on Sunday after collecting only five on Saturday.
“Our guys came ready to play today. We found ways to keep tacking on runs, and a few guys came up clutch for us,” said Siegfried. “Klein has been really impressive with the stick lately, and for him to get hot right now is huge.”
Kohl Hostert (University of Oregon) started the season finale for Cowlitz, scattering four hits in his four innings of work allowing an unearned run with two strikeouts as he endured the loss. Connor Cuse (Stanford) and Michael Sullivan (Central Washington) both allowed earned runs in relief for the Black Bears, while Jake Menzhuber (Cal Poly Pomona) did not fare well in his relief outing. The southpaw allowed two hits and two earned runs in his 2/3 of an inning and walked the last three batters he faced in the eighth.
Andrew Summerville (Stanford) allowed an earned run during his inning of relief for the Bells. Black Bears shortstop Seaver Whalen (Lower Columbia) singled in Kort Peterson (UCLA), who had doubled with two outs in the eighth. It accounted for the only run on Sunday for Cowlitz, who was limited to six hits. David Bigelow (Gonzaga) struck out two in a perfect ninth inning as Bellingham salvaged one game in the regular season-ending series.
In addition to Klein’s four hits, Carroll and Baker each collected two, Heath earned two walks and Hank Elliott (Chemeketa College) singled and walked.
The Bells won the season series with the Black Bears, 6-3, and head into the West Coast League Divisional playoff round with a good win under their belts. The playoffs begin on Tuesday night in Yakima against the Pippins, who the Bells beat twice in three games during the regular season.
“After working so hard all season, we, as a unit are absolutely ready to leave it all on the field in front of our fans,” Siegfried said. “It’s been a summer to remember- but it’s not done yet.”
The second game of the series with Yakima Valley is set for Wednesday night at 7:05pm PDT at Joe Martin Field. A third and deciding game, if necessary, would be played on Thursday night in Bellingham, Wash.
For playoff tickets, visit www.bellinghambells.com or call (360) 527-1035. Only 3,000 tickets were made available for Wednesday night’s home playoff game.
Tuesday night’s playoff opener on the road at Yakima County Stadium against the Pippins is set for 7:05pm PDT, with the pregame show at 6:35pm. Action can be heard on AM 930 KBAI and on 930kbai.com with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play. You can follow the Bells broadcast team on Twitter: @BellsRadio before, during and after game action.