Nine innings was not long enough for the Bellingham Bells (20-9) or the Cowlitz Black Bears (10-16) to push across a run in a pitcher’s duel Tuesday night at Joe Martin Field. When all was said and done, it took 10 innings to bring in a run, ending in the Bells' favor, 1-0.
“What a win,” said assistant coach Mike Gange. “This was a game where every pitcher tonight was locked in, we made some good contact in the first couple of innings but couldn’t get anything to drop. In the end we were able to win a battle of the bullpens.”
Bells' starter Andrew Kemmerer was sensational through his seven innings of work. “I had a great feel for three pitches tonight which allowed me to work deep into this game. I felt like [Joey Harris] and I were on the same page all night," Kemmerer said. “I think he’s the best in the West Coast League behind the plate.”
In his seven innings of work, Kemmerer did not allow a Black Bear to reach third in one of his best outings of the year. Through his seven innings he walked none and scattered five Black Bear hits while giving up no runs. He also tallied five strikeouts while getting a no decision. “A win is not that important to me,” said Kemmerer. “We got the win as a team and that what was the best part of my outing.”
Callahan Neely was equally impressive as the Black Bears' starter. Neely twirled eight shutout innings while striking out eight Bells and walking one. He only surrendered only two hits, and also did not allow a runner to reach third. “You have to tip your cap to what he [Neely] did to us tonight,” said Gange. “We were kept off balance all night and just couldn’t figure him out after we squared up some balls early on.”
After Kemmerer left following the seventh, Spencer Howard worked a perfect eighth and ninth inning. In the ninth, Slate Miller looked to have a single to right when Walker Olis came up throwing to first in time to cut down Miller. “That was awesome,” remarked catcher Joey Harris of Olis’ play. “It sort of sums up how difficult it was to get anyone on in this game.”
Brian Way (4-0) came in to work the 10th inning. Way gave up a leadoff single to Bowen Ogata but then set down the Black Bears 1-2-3 to preserves the tie and earn the win.
In the bottom of the tenth, the Bells finally managed to break through against Seth Rayburn (0-3). Alex Galgano worked a walk to start the frame and was sacrificed to second base by Patrick McGrath. With one out and a man on second the Black Bears elected to intentionally walk Chase Scott to put a force at any base. Three pitches later Walker Olis singled to load the bases and bring up Joey Harris.
“In that situation you’re obviously looking to get a ball to the outfield,” said Harris. “I wasn’t able to do that but I did manage to put the pressure on the defense to bring in Alex [Galgano].”
Harris hit a high chopper to Black Bears first basemen Shawn Sutton who threw home too late to get Galgano coming down the third base line, sending a sellout crowd at Joe Martin Field home happy.
The win is the Bells seventh in a row and now has them eight and a half games atop the Western Division.
Tomorrow the Bells go for their second sweep in a row behind Grant Schneider. Erik Oas will be on the call with a 6:50 pregame show with first pitch coming at 7:05.