It was another night where the offense struggled for the Bellingham Bells (21-12) as the Cowlitz Black Bears (15-18) pitched well from beginning to end, coming back into the game in the seventh inning and winning it in the 11th.
During the three game series, just six runs of offense in 29 innings were tallied, giving little support to Bells' pitchers, who were sensational.
Black Bears' starter Chris Castellanos dominated Bells hitters. For his first five innings he flirted with a perfect game, setting down the first 16 batters he faced before allowing a one out walk to Joey Harris.
The first hit the Bells collected would not come until the top of the seventh inning. Aaron Stroosma singled to lead off the inning and one batter later, stole second base. It was Stroosma’s 19th steal of the season tying him for the most by a Bell in a single season, and was also his 25th bag stolen of his career with the Bells moving him into first place on his own for most stolen bases in team history.
“It’s really cool,” said Stroosma after the game. “Anytime you set a record it’s special, but to set the all-time record while also tying the single season mark makes it even more special.”
Stroosma came around to score on the next pitch. Patrick McGrath smashed a two run home run to left field to break the 0-0 tie and give the Bells their only lead of the night, 2-0. The only runs allowed by Castellanos in his seven innings of work.
Bells’ pitching was led by starter Andrew Kemmerer. Kemmerer pitched effectively to contact in his six and two third innings of work while also receiving a standout defensive play from his center fielder Aaron Stroosma. In the bottom of the fourth inning Issac Benard singled to center and the Black Bears sent Slate Miller home. Aaron Stroosma came up throwing and gunned down Miller at the plate to end the inning.
Kemmerer settled into a groove from there and worked into the seventh inning. But the Black Bears began a two out rally with the only walk that Kemmerer allowed all night. Jake Pavletich followed with a single and was driven home on a Curtis Perrin double that tied the game at two. It was Perrin’s first extra-base hit and first RBIs of the season.
The game remained deadlocked at 2-2 till the bottom of the 11th. Riley Storedahl entered as the fifth pitcher of the night for the Bells and struggled to throw strikes. He walked the first batter he faced, Ryan Aguilar, and intentionally walked Lorin Archibald after a sacrifice bunt moved Aguilar to second. During the intentional walk Storedahl threw one to the back stop to move Aguilar to third and bring Bowen Ogata up to the plate. Ogata flew out to center but it was deep it enough to score Aguilar and walk the Bells off, 3-2.
It was the first time the Bells have lost in extra innings this year and is just the second series they have lost all season.
From Cowlitz, the Bells will head north to take on the Victoria Harbourcats, who have won eight in a row to take over second place in the Western Division just four games back of the Bells.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35, with Justin Calomeni starting for the Bells. Erik Oas will be on the call with a 6:20 pregame show.