The Bellingham Bells (25-12) returned to league action Tuesday night against the Victoria HarbourCats (17-20) and slugged their way to a 7- 4 win.
Two home runs on the evening made it 26 for the team on the season which marked the most home runs collected by a Bells team in a single season with 17 games left to play.
Zach Johnson (2-1) made his third start for the Bells this year and continued to throw the ball well. After allowing a two-out double in the first inning to A.J. Alcantara, he set down the next eight HarbourCats batters in order. The streak included a pick-off of Nick Meyer in the second inning. It was one of two pickoffs Johnson recorded on the night. The pickoff artist now has seven on the season and leads the West Coast League.
Johnson’s six inning outing was marked by run support from Bells' hitters. Beau Branton kicked off the scoring in the third inning when he doubled down the third baseline and was brought home two batters later on a Dustin Breshears blop single.
After a fourth inning two run homer from Ben Polshuk, the HarbourCats took their only lead of the night, 2-1. It was the only mistake Johnson made on the night, he turned in six innings while striking out four and walking none. Four pitchers combined to allow no walks, just the third time Bells' pitching has issued no free passes in a game this year.
The 2-1 advantage for the HarbourCats did not last long. Bells’ hitters answered in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two run homer of their own as Joey Harris took HarbourCats' starter Matt Blais (2-3) deep on a 0-1 pitch to right fielded to give the Bells a 3-2 lead.
It was Harris' first home run of the season and he said of the long fly, “Can I just say that, that [the home run], felt good? I mean really, really good.”
Harris' long fly was set up by long at-bats from Bells hitters. KJ Brady leadoff the inning with a nine pitch at-bat that turned into a walk, and was followed by the next batter, Beau Branton, who worked nine pitches out of Blais before finally being set down on a pop out. Harris did need not need to duel Blais for his home run. After just two pitches, Harris deposited one over the right field wall for a Bells 3-2 lead.
“$2 Tuesday’s are always crazy here in Bellingham and in a game that was back and forth with two run homers, what’s not to like from a fans perspective?” said Harris of a crowd that was over 2,500 and the largest of the season.
After a run was pushed across in the top of the sixth inning by the HarbourCats to tie the game at three, Walker Olis sent the second two run homer for the Bells of the night into orbit. Chris Beall, set up the inning with a leadoff double that was followed one batter later by Olis’s home run. It was the sixth home run of the season for Olis, tying him with teammate Chase Scott for most by a Bell in a single-season.
“We are having a friendly, aggressive, competition with the home run chase,” said Olis of his home run in respect to teammate Scott having six home runs as well. “We have been batting back to back pretty much all season which has made it even more fun.”
Bells hitters tacked on runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pad what became a 7-3 lead. Before the HarbourCats came back with single runs in the sixth and ninth innings.
The run in the ninth inning was charged to Justin Courtney, the first run he has allowed all year. Following the run coming into score, Courtney, set down the next two HarbourCat batters to close out the win. The 7-4 win is the Bells fourth in a row and gives them an eight game lead atop the Western Division.
Tomorrow, the Bells go for the series win behind Andrew Summerville. First pitch will come at 7:05 with Erik Oas on the call for a 6:50 pregame show.