Friday night at Joe Martin Field was a night of celebration. It was the first “Championship Friday” with the Bells wearing black hats with gold lettering to mark their 2014 West Coast League Championship. When the game ended the Bells could also celebrate a 5-3 win over the Wenatchee AppleSox. The win now gives the Bells a 5-0 record in game one of series to start the season.
“It’s definitely something that is weird,” said Bells shortstop Dustin Breshears of the Bells' success in series starters. “But hey, we’ll take it. It sets us up for a chance to win the series tomorrow.”
In the first inning Bells starter, Kyle Rossman, set down the first two batters only to see a two out double by Keston Hiura turn into a run when a fielding error brought him home. The error was charged to first basemen Cole Wilstead and gave the Applesox an early 1-0 lead.
“We did not play our best baseball tonight,” said Bells assistant coach Mike Gange. “We made some mistakes running the bases and in the infield. But, I’ve said it before. We have a mature bunch which allows us to overcome some mistakes.”
While the AppleSox enjoyed an early 1-0 lead, the Bells had a difficult time figuring out starter Chris Carns. Through the first four innings, the Bells had mustered just one hit, a first inning single by Dustin Breshears. Still, the Bells managed to score a run in the bottom of the third without a hit.
The inning began with Beau Branton being hit by a pitch. One of four Bells batters to be hit Friday night, Branton was followed by Lou Della Fera, who was walked. That’s when the Bells committed an error on the base paths.
A pitch got away from AppleSox catcher Drew Helmstadter but lead runner, Branton did not advance while Della Fera took off for second. The result was Branton being caught in a run down while Della Fera took second. One batter latter with Della Fera on third, Carns threw a wild pitch to bring in the Bells outfielder and tie the game 1-1.
Bells pitching held the AppleSox in check. After starter Kyle Rossman exited the game in the fourth inning, lefty Zach Johnson then entered to make his 2015 debut and navigated a jam in the fifth inning to keep the game tied at one.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bells managed to break the tie with some help from the bottom of their lineup. Beau Branton lead the inning off with a double and scored on a two out RBI single by Dustin Breshears, giving the Bells a 2-1 lead.
“We didn’t have a great night from the middle of our lineup,” said Coach Gange. “But that speaks to our depth throughout our lineup, and the guys at the bottom really saved us tonight.”
The Bells put some distance between themselves and the AppleSox in the sixth. After starting the inning with three consecutive hits, the AppleSox ended the night for their starter Chris Carns. Anthony Contonio entered with the bases loaded and nobody out. All three of the runners came into score to give the Bells a 5-1 lead heading into the seventh inning.
Zach Johnson left after the sixth, working two shutout innings. Riley Storedahl worked a scoreless seventh but ran into trouble in the eighth.
The inning began with a bang as Wenatchee's Mitchell Holland took the first pitch of the inning and crushed a home run over the wall in left, making it 5-2. It was the first home run of the year for the AppleSox. Another run came in on an RBI single by Drew Helmstadter trimming the Bells lead to 5-3.
That would be as close as the AppleSox would come. Jacob Howard entered in the ninth and allowed the go ahead run to get to the plate but got Sheldon Liikala to fly out to center to end it.
The win for the Bells has them at 9-4 atop the Western Division while the loss for the Applesox drops them to 4-6.
Tomorrow the Bells go for series win number five to start the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with Erik Oas on the call with a 6:35 p.m. pregame on AM930 KBAI.