One-hit was all it took for the Cowlitz Black Bears (14-17) to sink the Bellingham Bells (20-11) Monday night at David Story Field. The one hit was a solo home run by Lorin Archibald in the bottom of the fourth that gave the Black Bears the 1-0 win.
The day began for the Bells with the news that six of their players had been selected to represent the North All-Stars at the 2015 West Coast League All-Star Game held in Bellingham. Andrew Reichenbach, Andrew Kemmerer, Aaron Stroosma, Dustin Breshears, Bronson Larsen and Justin Calomeni will be the Bells representatives, the second straight season the Bells have sent six players to the All-Star Game.
After hearing the news Bells pitching continued their mastery on the mound. Zach Johnson (1-1) made his second start of the year and threw six innings but was seldom tested. His only mistake was a 1-0 pitch to Lorin Archibald that was sent over the right field wall to open the fourth inning and give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead. It would be the only hit Bells' pitching would allow.
The offense for the Bells was a collection of near misses. In the first inning, Aaron Stroosma singled with one out and stole second on the next pitch. It was his 18th steal of the season placing him just one behind Johnny Sewald for the most by a Bell in a single season. The steal was also Stroosma’s 24th of his career with the Bells tying him for first all-time among Bells. Stroosma would be stranded at third after the Bells got runners to first third but saw Jesse Kuet fly out to end the inning.
The only other close call the Bells had scoring a run came when Chris Beall, making his 2015 season debut, was thrown out trying to score from second on a Walker Olis infield single in the fourth inning. It was the last time on the night that the Bells got a runner to third.
Joe Balfour (3-1), one of the five Black Bears named to the All-Star Game, threw eight very strong innings for the Black Bears. In his eight shutout innings he scattered five hits, walked just one, and struck out three to earn the win.
Balfour was relieved by another Black Bear All-Star, Lars Rider. Rider worked the ninth issuing a two out walk to Chris Beall, who was the first Bell to reach since the fifth inning, but struck out the side for his West Coast League leading eighth save of the season
The 1-0 loss is just the second time this year that the Bells have been shut out. The loss has also shrunk the Bells lead to five games atop the Western Division after the Victoria HarbourCats’ seventh win in a row. The Black Bears are now six games back of the Bells.
Tomorrow the Bells will look to rebound behind Andrew Summerville for game two of the series. Erik Oas will be on the call for the 6:35 starts time with a 6:20 pregame show.