It took over four hours before the Bellingham Bells (23-12) took game one against the Victoria HarbourCats (17-18) on night one and it took nearly four hours to come out on top 6-5 in game two on Friday night at Royal Athletic Park.
Unlike last night, when the Bells lead throughout, they had to come from behind for the win. Bells starter Grant Schneider, struggled with his command in an abbreviated two and a third inning start. It was his shortest outing of the year that came to an end after he had issued his fifth walk of the night.
Schneider gave up two runs which were earned before leaving in the third inning with the bases loaded and only one out. Nate Higa entered the jam but managed to exit the inning with no damage done to strand HarbourCats at every base.
Higa saw his luck run out in the bottom of the fourth inning. A one out walk to Kevin Collard led to two runs when Ben Polshuck homered off the scoreboard in left to give the HarbourCats a 4-0 lead.
The Bells' bats awoke in the following frame to put up three runs. Alex Galgano led the inning off with a triple, his first extra-base hit of the year, followed by a Joey Harris RBI single on the next pitch that put the first run of the board for the Bells. They continued to move the line after Harris’ single when Aaron Stroosma worked a two-out walk, one of four walks Stroosma worked on the night. Chris Beall doubled two pitches later to drive in Harris and Stroosma for the third runs of the inning.
“It’s great to be back,” said Beall, a 2013 Bell, and the newest addition to the Bells' roster. “The guys have been so great in welcoming me back.” Saying of his two RBI double, “The ball carries here [Royal Athletic Park] well, and when I saw that it got over the head of the right fielder two runs were coming home. It was a big moment for us early because we struggled to put runs on the board for our pitching staff.”
From the three run fifth, the Bells offense continued to roll. Two more runs came in in the sixth to give the Bells their first lead of the night. Three hits, an error and a walk led to the pair of runs that made it 5-4 Bells.
Like the night before, nothing would come easy for the Bells, as the HarbourCats came back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cody Anderson (2-0) hit Nick Meyer to start the inning. A wild pitch, sacrifice bunt, and ground ball later tied the game at five.
The Bells managed to break the tie in the top of the eighth when Joey Harris was hit by a pitch and moved to third two batters later on a sacrifice bunt and Dustin Breshears single. Harris was plated on a Austin Dondanville balk which proved to be the deciding run.
After the HarbourCats loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth on a combination of a hits batsmen and two walks, Justin Courtney was able to set the next four batters down to give the Bells the 6-5 win.
“After Grant [Schneider] left it became a bullpen game and we were able to throw the ball really well out of the bullpen to get this big win,” said Justin Courtney, who collected his first save of the season after relieving Anderson in the eighth.
The win gives the Bells a six game lead in the Western division and gives them the chance to earn the series sweep behind Reagan Todd tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 with Erik Oas on the call with a 12:35 pregame show.