Thursday night’s game three of the West Coast League divisional playoff series was a hard fought battle between the Bells and the Kelowna Falcons. While the end result was a 9-6 Falcons victory, the Bells showed resiliency throughout, battling back and ending the game with the winning run at the plate.
Left-hander Zach Johnson took the ball for the Bells in game three. Johnson, known for his brilliant pick-off move, allowed a hit from lead-off batter Grant Meylan but then a few pitches later, picked him off at first base for the first out of the inning. Two runs would come in during the inning, however, putting the Falcons on the board first with a 2-0 lead.
The Bells would get on the board in the top of the second inning with a Joey Harris double scoring Walker Olis for the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the third inning, Grant Meylan lead off the inning with a double and then advanced to third on a Matt Hearn single. The Falcons would continue to find ways to advance base runners in the inning, scoring Meylan and Hearn to take a 4-1 lead.
After a scoreless top of the fourth for the Bells, the Falcons came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning. After facing two batters, Johnson’s day would be done. The left-hander worked 3.1 innings with 8 hits, 5 runs and 2 strikeouts. He was replaced by right-hander Spencer Howard, who entered the game to face Kyle Plantier. The Falcons picked up one run in the inning when Josh Egan scored to make the game 5-1.
The Falcons would get one more in the bottom of the fifth, making the score 6-1. But the Bells were far from defeated in a game that was never quite over. In the top of the sixth, Beau Branton would lead off the inning with a single, followed by Aaron Stroosma, who was given a free pass from Falcons pitcher Alex Webb. The Bells would continue to find ways to get on the bases and would score 4 runs in the inning, narrowing the gap and making it a 6-4 ball game.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Falcons would get two back on three hits and runs scored by Kyle Plantier and Matt Hearn.
Trailing 8-4 in the top of the seventh inning, the Bells failed to record any hits or runs. Kyle Rossman took the ball for the Bells in the top of the seventh inning, and struggled to find a rhythm, facing three batters and giving up one run and two hits. He was replaced by reliever Brian Way, who worked the rest of the inning without giving up a run.
In the top of the eighth, leadoff batter Dustin Breshears singled to get on base and was followed by Walker Olis, who took a base on balls. Catcher Joey Harris followed and hit an infield fly blooper that was turned for what umpires ruled a triple play. After a lengthy debate, the call stood and the Falcons came up for the bottom of the eighth inning. Way returned to the mound in the eighth and was extremely efficient, facing four batters and giving up only one hit and no runs.
With three outs remaining, the Bells headed into the top of the ninth inning and gave it everything they had, scoring one run and loading the bases to bring the winning run to the plate in Dustin Breshears. The comeback fell just short when Breshears popped out to the shortstop, who put out Chris Beall at second to end the game.
The West Division champion Bells, who were making their third playoff appearance in four years, finish the season 34-23.