The Bells came racing out of the gate Wednesday night at Goss Stadium, putting five runs on the board in the first two innings and then holding on from there.
A night ago it took the Bells four innings to score a run, but Wednesday night the wait was much shorter. Aaron Stroosma turned in a sensational outing at the plate as the leadoff man going 3 for 4. Stroosma came into the game with just one hit in his first twelve at bats of the season. That quickly changed as Stroosma collected singles in his first three trips to the plate and then went about terrorizing the Corvallis Knights on the base-paths.
“It was a complete performance,” said assistant coach Mike Gange of Stroosma's performance.“He’s our spark plug at the top of the lineup.”
Spark plug is right. Stroosma stole three bases to go with a run scored and an RBI as he factored into both of the Bells rallies. After Stroosma scored the first run of the game, Dustin Breshears scored on a single by Walker Olis. But Olis was denied an RBI because catcher Ryan Matranga, of Corvallis, dropped the ball on what was likely a sure out at the plate. Instead the Bells took a 2-0 lead and added three more the following inning.
In the second, the Bells plated three runs when Andrew Reichenbach started the frame with his first hit of the season. Ben Welch came up next and reached on an error by third baseman Trevin Stephens of the Knights. Lou Della Ferra bunted, setting up runners at second and third with one out for the top of the lineup. Stroosma continued his hitting with an RBI single and Dustin Breshears followed with a sacrifice fly RBI. Chase Scott then came up to the plate and battled Knights pitcher Gary Steindorf for four pitches before singling home the third run of the inning. The Bells with a 5-0 lead would be done offensively, leaning the rest of the way on their pitching.
The Bells started Hunter Haworth who pitched through some traffic but turned in a steady five innings. The only runs Haworth allowed came in the bottom of the fourth as he gave up four consecutive hits, scoring two runs for Corvallis and making it a 5-2 Bells lead.
Haworth followed the two run fourth with a perfect fifth inning and would wind up with the win. The Bells bullpen shut out the Knights the rest of the way but had to hold off several Corvallis Knights pushes. Nate Higa entered in the sixth and saw the bases go loaded before he struck out Jes Staples to end the threat. In the seventh, Higa allowed his third walk but did not allow anymore Knights to reach and kept the 5-2 lead intact.
Brice Longanecker entered in the eighth and used ground ball double plays to escape jams in the eighth and the ninth innings. In the ninth, the Knights loaded the bases with one out and the cleanup hitter Henry Rondeau up. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat Longanecker got a ground ball to Bells shortstop Dustin Breshears to end the game and give the Bells a 4-1 start to the season.
The 4-1 start for Bellingham is just the second time in franchise history that the Bells have had four wins through the first five games, which last came in the Bells inaugural season in the West Coast League, 2005.
The Corvallis Knights with the loss drop to 1-4 on the year.
The Bells have never sweep the Knights at Goss Stadium, but will have a chance Thursday night. Game time is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with Jacob Howard slated to take the ball. The Bells pregame show be live at www.bellinghambells.com, and will begin at 6:25 with Erik Oas on the call.