A pitcher’s duel and two home runs was the story Friday night at Joe Martin Field. In what was a game marked by home runs in big spots, it was Bells pitching that made the difference in a 4-2 win over the Kitsap BlueJackets.
“If you’re a fan, tonight was a lot of fun,” said assistant coach Mike Gange. “Tonight there was good pitching, great defensive plays, and a couple home runs.”
Early on, the night was marked by great pitching. Bells starter Justin Calomeni made his second start of the year and worked six and one third of an inning, which tied the longest into a came a starter has gone for the Bells this season. After an unearned run came across for the Bells in the second inning, Calomeni settled in. He struck out the side in order in the third inning and tossed another scoreless frame in the fourth.
The only blemish to Calomeni’s night came in the fifth inning. With the Bells clinging to a 1-0 lead, the BlueJackets came up with two runs to momentarily push ahead. The rally for the BlueJackets started with a one out single by Jordan Peabody, and on the very next pitch Caylen Clardy tripled into left center field to bring home Peabody. Two batters later the BlueJackets took the lead on a fielder’s choice from Kyle Nobach, making it 2-1.
Bronson Larsen made sure the lead was short lived for Kitsap. He led off the sixth inning with a titanic blast into left field that tied the score at two. It was Larsen’s third homer of the year which leads the team.
After the home run from Larsen the game settled back into a pitchers’ game. Bran Way came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning and stranded the go ahead run for the BlueJackets on second to preserve the 2-2 tie. Way came back out for the eighth and worked a scoreless inning before making way for Brice Longanecker to come in for the ninth.
With the score tied at two in the bottom of the eighth, the Bells cashed in their second long fly of the night. Patrick McGrath came up with a runner on and two away in the inning. After seeing the first pitch, McGrath lined one just over the left field wall for a two run homer, breaking the tie, and giving the Bells a 4-2 lead.
“You know, I didn't think it was gone right off the bat,” explained McGrath. “I thought it might hit off the top of the wall and then their outfielder [Alex Junior] looked like he might catch it. So every outcome was running through my head. But it had just enough to get over [the wall] and it was a big knock for us.”
“The crowds here are awesome," McGrath said of the crowd’s reaction. "I’ve never had the privilege to play in front of crowds like these before and it makes moments like these special for all of us.”
Longanecker worked the ninth inning, collecting the save for the Bells thanks to a standout defensive play by shortstop Beau Branton that took a hit away from BlueJackets catcher Dayne Sommer. Two batters later, Longanecker got Jordan Peabody to pop up to first basemen McGrath to end it and give the Bells game one of the series.
The series continues tomorrow with game two of the three game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with Reagan Todd the probable starter for the Bells. Erik Oas will be on the call on 930 KBAI with a 6:35 first pitch.