The Bellingham Bells (32-22) mounted a large surge to defeat the Wenatchee AppleSox (19-35) 7-6 at Paul Thomas Field in Wenatchee Sunday night.
Thanks to two runs in the ninth inning that completed the comeback, including Bellingham HS graduate Austin Shenton’s RBI single, Bellingham clinched the Northern Division Second Half Championship.
After surrendering two runs in the bottom half of the first, Bellingham got one back in the second. Shenton walked to begin the rally, and two batters later, Matt DiLeo brought him home on an RBI double. The Bells trailed 2-1 going to the bottom half of the second.
Bellingham took the lead in the top half of the fourth on a Christian Jones two run dinger but Wenatchee crossed four runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a 6-3 advantage to the fifth inning.
Gio Lopez earned the start for Bellingham and the Arizona State Sun Devil allowed six runs, four of which were earned, to cross the plate in his four innings on the hill. Lopez did not factor into the decision.
Shenton crossed the plate in the sixth inning for Bellingham, as the future Washington Husky doubled and moved to third on a DiLeo groundout. Justin Polzin delivered a single to plate Shenton and pull the Bells to within two at 6-4.
Zach Johnson (1-0) took the hill next for Bellingham and the third year Bell was terrific, earning his first win of the summer. Johnson tossed four scoreless innings, while fanning six men and most impressively, the southpaw used his deceptive pick off move to gun down three AppleSox base runners.
Trailing 6-4 heading to the eighth inning, Bellingham crossed one run in the eighth and two in the ninth to regain the lead. In the eighth, it was the Danny Casals show, as Casals walked stole second and third base and trotted home on a wild pitch.
In the ninth inning, Andru Cardenas singled and moved to second a misplay in the outfield. Cardenas scored to tie the game on a Gunnar Schubert RBI single and Schubert replaced Cardenas on a second thanks to the throw home. Following a David Banuelos flyout, Shenton came through in the clutch; as the long time Bellingham resident and Bells fan singled home the eventual game-winning run, helping the Bells’ clinch the division title. Bellingham carried the 7-6 lead to the bottom half of the ninth.
Sam Hellinger entered in the ninth and fanned one earning his league leading 13th save. The Gonzaga Bulldog finished the regular season with just one earned run against him in 28 innings thrown.
Shane Hanon won the WCL batting title with a .331 mark for the 2016 regular season and fellow all-star Andru Cardenas led the league in stolen bases with 23 for the Bells.
Bellingham will begin a three game playoff series with the first half champions, the Victoria HarbourCats, on Tuesday August 9th at Joe Martin Field with pre-game coverage starting at 6:35 with Tom Prizeman on 930 AM KBAI and on https://network1sports.com/station/kbai. The series will continue in Victoria the following two days to determine the winner of the best of three series. The Bells recommend buying tickets before Tuesday, as we expect a sellout. To purchase tickets visit http://bellinghambells.com/home/ or call (367) 527-1035.