Bells fall to NightOwls’ ninth-inning rally

Bellingham unable to close out series sweep
July 17, 2022 at 5:06 p.m.
Bellingham Bells' Ty Saunders tosses the ball to second base during a double play in a 4-3 loss to the Nanaimo NightOwls on July 17.
Bellingham Bells' Ty Saunders tosses the ball to second base during a double play in a 4-3 loss to the Nanaimo NightOwls on July 17. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Staff Reporter

The Bellingham Bells finished their weekend home series against the Nanaimo NightOwls with a 4-3 loss on Sunday afternoon. A low-scoring start to the game built into a three-run rally for the NightOwls in the ninth inning, followed by the Bells’ attempt to repeat their walk-off win from the prior night.

With the Bells up 2-1 in the top of the ninth, the NightOwls’ Landon Frei hit a single to centerfield to score Cody Hendriks and tie the game at 2-2. Then, facing a full count with the bases loaded, Nanaimo’s Kobe Sandstrom hit a two-run double to centerfield to send in Tim Holyk and Frei and put the NightOwls up 4-2. 

photo  Bellingham's Jaidon Matthews attempts a diving catch for a foul ball in right field. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

After Jack Van Remortel’s three-run, walk-off double to win Saturday night’s game, 5-4, the Bells looked for another bottom-of-the-ninth rally after leading the majority of the game on Sunday.  

Elijah Hainline made his first appearance at the plate with a line drive double towards third, then was sent home by Easton Amundsen’s single. However, Nanaimo’s closing pitcher Kotaro Uchida escaped the jam, leaving two Bells runners on bases at the final out. 

photo  Bellingham's Elijah Hainline crosses home plate. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

In Sunday’s game, Amundsen went 5-for-5 at the plate with five singles and two RBI. 

“We did a good job getting quality at-bats, put a ton of guys on base, just missed out on the big hit, and you saw it there in the last inning,” Bells' interim head coach Haydn Hastings said. “Fourteen hits, three runs — I think last night we were in the double digits as well, but not enough runs. So, it’s a matter of getting that big hit in that clutch situation.” 

photo  Bellingham first baseman Jack Van Remortel catches a foul ball for an out. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

Before the ninth inning, the game’s scoring began slowly. Bellingham pitcher Ryan Beitel tossed the first six innings with four strikeouts, giving up one run and three hits. Bellingham’s defense made a pair of two-out double plays to finish innings, with Van Remortel and Ty Saunders tagging runners at first and second. Matthews was also busy in rightfield, catching several flyballs to help limit the NightOwls to three or four at-bats in seven of the game’s nine innings.  

“I think Willis [Creswell]’s performance behind the plate, calling pitches, stealing us a lot of strikes and keeping the ball in front of him was instrumental to why we were able to get so many outs early,” Hastings said. 

The NightOwls had eight at-bats in their ninth-inning rally, the most in a single inning for either team. 

Van Remortel opened the game’s scoring in the bottom of the first, hitting a foul ball that was caught, allowing Jaidon Matthews to score from third. The NightOwls evened the score in the third, 1-1, before Amundsen’s single to rightfield sent Cody Russell home as the Bells retook the lead in the fifth inning. 

photo  Bellingham's runner Touissaint Bythewood crashes into third base, narrowly avoiding being tagged out. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

This loss prevented Bellingham from securing another series sweep. The Bells beat Nanaimo 3-0 on Friday, then 5-4 on Saturday, after a three-loss road trip at the Ridgefield Raptors to begin the week. 

“That series out in Ridgefield, where we got punched in the mouth, that was good for us,” Hastings said. “With already having playoffs clinched, we needed a challenge like that. It was interesting for me and the coaching staff to sit back and wonder how we’re going to bounce back from getting swept on the road.” 

With a 2-4 record on the week, Bellingham still sits atop the West Coast League’s North Division with a 23-12 record overall. With three weeks remaining in the season, the Bells have secured a playoff spot and will next face the Victoria HarbourCats on the road in a three-game series starting Tuesday. The Bells are 4-6 in their last 10 games. 

The NightOwls currently sit one spot removed from the bottom of the table in the North Division of the West Coast League, with the win moving their overall record to 13-22 and 2-8 in their last 10 games.  

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