The Bellingham Bells, taking advantage of the Victoria HarbourCats allowing five walks in the third inning, took an early lead on the way to an 8-3 victory at Joe Martin Field on Thursday night.
With the win, the Bells denied the Cats a series sweep and gained some momentum heading into their last regular season series of the year.
After going down 1-0 to the Cats in the second inning behind an RBI from Victoria’s John Ceccoli, the Bells capitalized on Victoria’s shaky pitching in the third inning. The Cats’ starting pitcher, Andre Duplantier, walked five Bells batters and gave up four runs before being pulled with one out secured.
“In that situation, a big thing was to be patient,” Bellingham’s Toussiant Bythewood said. “Work the counts, just keep staying true to our approach, try to work a walk, try to work a hit, anything we can do to help the team score.”
Bythewood and Malcom Moore each hit single RBIs during the bottom-of-the-third scoring run, and combined with two walks with bases loaded, put Bellingham up 4-1.
“Not a normal take situation, but we put the take sign on,” Bells interim head coach Haydan Hastings said. “It’s very difficult to throw strikes in this league, especially with the zone we had tonight, so you put the take sign on there ... it’s not so much passive but more one pitch, one spot, and if you don’t get it, then you take it and move onto the next pitch.”
Malcolm Moore does a dance after getting to second base on a hit as the Bellingham Bells beat the Victoria HarbourCats 8-3 on Aug. 4. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
Two RBIs from Noah Meffert — his first two of the season — helped the Bells keep the Cats at bay throughout later innings. Though two errors from the Bells and a two-run double from Victoria’s Tanner Hanney closed the Bells’ lead to 4-3 in the top of the fourth, Meffert notched his first RBI to send Jaidon Matthews home again, putting the Bells ahead by two. Meffert’s second RBI would come shortly after, scoring Alex Fernandes in the sixth. Another single from Bythewood then sent Meffert himself and Colin Blanchard home.
Matthews stole two bases during the game. The steals, in addition to the walks, helped the Bells extend their lead despite the teams’ relatively similar number of hits: six for the Cats, seven for the Bells.
“I think tonight was the first time we won any way,” said Hastings. “It was the furthest thing from a pretty win, but the guys found a way to win, and in summer ball, when you get towards the end of things, that’s what it’s all about, finding ways to win.”
The Bells' starting pitcher, Trevin Hope, who currently leads the league in ERA, left the game after four innings. Christopher Foster closed the game in the ninth, securing two strikeouts with two runners on base.
On Wednesday, the Cats beat the Bells 11-5, and in Tuesday’s series opener, Victoria also took an 8-6 win and held back a ninth-inning rally from Bellingham.
“We made crucial errors all series, and tonight we found a way around it, and we worked through it,” Hastings said. “That’s what good teams do. They find a way to win, even when they’re not playing their best baseball.”
Jaidon Mathews slides in for the run as the Bellingham Bells beat the Victoria HarbourCats 8-3 on Thursday. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
After the game, the Bells players lined up on the field for around 15 minutes, signing baseball cards for fans until the stadium lights shut off. The next time the lights turn back on for a game day, the Bells will be facing the Kamloops NorthPaws, at home this Friday.
This win puts Bellingham at 31-19 overall on the season and 12-12 in the season’s second half. The Bells have already secured their spot in the playoffs, which begin Aug. 10.
“[This last game], we all talked to each other, bared down, got in the box, and started making things happen,” Bythewood said. “Going into the playoffs, that’s a thing we need to keep doing—communicating, talking.”
As one his crutches falls to the ground, Blake Conrad gets a photo taken with his parents Tiffani Mauro and Tim Conrad, right, after the field lights were turn off during the post-game autograph session with fans Thursday night. Blake injured his knee during the game. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)