For the first time since the 2005 season, the Bells will play in a West Coast League Championship series. After Bellingham scored first, the Pippins battled back to tie the score 3-3 in the eighth inning. In front of 2,435 fans at Joe Martin Field on Wednesday night, Bellingham proved why they led the WCL in victories this season. Resliency and determination were two huge factors for this group, and it was clearly evident in Wednesday night's series-clinching victory. With the win, the Bells moved to 4-1 overall this season against Yakima Valley and eliminated the Pippins from playoff contention. The Bells moved into the Championship series for the first time in nine years.
"Resiliency has been our key all sesaon long," said Bells assistant coach Mike Gange on the postgame show. "Our guys have battled through adversity all sesaon long and tonight we sent a very good team home in Yakima Valley."
Aaron Sandefur (Bellevue College) got the nod for the Bells and did not disappoint, hurling six innings of one-run baseball with one strikeout and one walk. He left with a 3-2 lead, though a costly error by the Bells in the eighth would leave the door open for the Pippins to score the tying run. After David Bigelow (Gonzaga) struck out two hitters in his ninth inning of relief, Bellingham would use an error, a walk and a single to load the bases, setting up Miller's heroics.
"It was kind of unreal, to be honest," Miller said on his walk-off single to center that won the game for the Bells. "I got chills."
After being chased down from in between first and second base and being mobbed after the hit, Miller and the Bells celebrated while the crowd of over 2,400 fans cheered in jubilation. It was Miller who drove in two runs with a double in the first inning after having his original double down the right field line ruled foul- after it was called a fair ball. The very next pitch he drilled into left-centerfield and drove in Dustin Breshears (Gonzaga) and Dallas Carroll (Utah) to provide the Bells with an early 2-0 advantage. Yakima Valley starter Eli Morgan (Gonzaga) settled down after allowing three runs in the first two innings to pitch seven quality innings. For the second straight night, the Pippins starter had a good outing spoiled by the Bells resiliency. Morgan received a no-decision and finishes the season 8-0.
"We took an early lead but allowed them to tie the game," said Gange. "That's when our guys decided to end the series. We beat a very good Yakima team tonight."
David Bigelow (Gonzaga) picked up the win in relief, improving to 3-0 this season with 38 strikeouts in 35.2 innings, including two on Wednesday night.
Kenny Rosenburg (Cal State Northridge) took the loss, allowing an unearned run after he committed a throwing error to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Rosenburg finishes 3-3 this season and lost for the first time since July 24- also against the Bells.
Miller collected a double, single and three RBI's, while Bellingham managed only four hits other than the Chico State slugger. Scott Heath (University of Maine) drove in a run with a sac-fly in the second and singled in the ninth. Breshears, Caroll and Della Fera each collected singles. Mitch Skaggs (College of Idaho) went 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI for Yakima Valley, who lost for only the third time in the last 15 games.
"We've worked for this all season long," an excited Gange ended with. "We've had an amazing group all season long and we knew that they had this in them."
Pippins (35-21) end the season with a West Coast League expansion team-best 35 victories, after winning the WCL East Division. Bellingham (39-17) has won 39 games this season, the most for any Bells team since its inception into the WCL in 2005.
The Bells advance to the Championship series to take on the Corvallis Knights, who eliminated the Bend Elks on Wednesday night with a 2-1, come-from-behind win. The sites, dates and times are yet to be determined for the Championship series, which will be a best-of-three, winner-take all scenario. Both games (third, if necessary) can be heard on AM 930 KBAI and online at 930kbai.com with Dave Grant calling the play-by-play. Be sure to check www.bellinghambells.com for complete playoff schedule information. Also, you can follow @BellsRadio on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news, information, ways to tune in and interact with the broadcast team during game action.