Nine innings was not enough to decide the final game of the regular season. The Bellingham Bells (33-21) came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the Victoria HarbourCats (29-24) only to fall 6-4 in 10 innings.
Justin Courtney made his second start of the season for the Bells but lasted just three innings in a game marked by several pitching changes. “It was our game plan all game long to get guys some work in a final tune up before the postseason,” assistant coach Mike Gange said.
Five pitchers were used by the Bells who were undone by three two run innings. The scoring started with a two run third inning for the HarbourCats off Courtney. A one out single, walk, double and sacrifice fly stacked the HarbourCats to an early 2-0 lead.
Another two run inning from the HarbourCats in the seventh made it 4-0. Kevin Collared started the rally when he reached on a fielding error committed by Chris Beall. Collared would score the first run of the inning, his fifth run scored of the series. A bases loaded two RBI double from Ben Polshuck brought in the runs but also ended the inning when a Bells relay cut down Michael Gretler trying to score from first.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bells got on the board with a run off Sean O’Toole. Joey Harris doubled with one out and was brought in on a single by the the next batter, Patrick McGrath.
The HarbourCats used a combination of six pitchers to work through the ten frames. Calvin Christensen worked the eighth but the Bells made up the difference with a three run inning. Chase Scott, who did not start the game, entered as a pinch hitter for his final game as a Bell.
“He’s a Bell,” Gange said. “He was one of the hardest workers we had and will be missed in the postseason.”
Scott kicked off the three run rally with a one out walk and scored from second on a Chris Beall infield single. Walker Olis, down 0-2 in the count, crushed O’Toole’s next offering over the wall in left center to tie the game at four. It was Olis’s eighth home run of the season, a new single season record for the Bells, and also his 10th in his time with the Bells, another team record.
Nate Higa worked two and a third innings, his longest of the year. His last inning, the HarbourCats were able to figure out the right hander as two singles, a stolen base and an error pushed two runs across to break the 4-4 tie.
The loss means the Bells will host game one in the first playoff series against the Kelowna Falcons on Tuesday, August 11 at 7:05 p.m.
The Bells will take tomorrow off before beginning the postseason with Justin Calomeni taking the ball for game one. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 with Erik Oas on the call for a 6:35 pregame show.