Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
July 31, 2017, Victoria, BC – The Bellingham Bells used a 19-hit attack to power their way to a 11-9 win over the Victoria HarbourCats Monday night in the first game of a critical West Coast League (WCL) North Division series at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The win moved the Bells to within a half-game of the HarbourCats for the North Division lead and also moved the idle Wenatchee AppleSox, who began the night a half-game back of Victoria, into a first place tie with Victoria for the North Division pennant.
The Bells got to Victoria starter Adam McKillican big time in the top of the second inning, scoring five runs on the strength of seven hits, including a leadoff home run from Kyle Stowers, as well as five singles in a row, capped by an RBI single from Bells All-Star Austin Shenton.
McKillican would then settle down to hold the Bells scoreless from the third through fifth innings and that gave the HarbourCats offence time to get in gear, scoring one in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth to jump into a 6-5 lead and get the nice Monday night crowd of 2,262 off their feet and into the game.
Sam Cachola would knock in the HarbourCats first run with an RBI single to score Cole Weiss who led the third inning off with a double. A Tucker Johnson RBI-single in the second would cap the two run inning scoring Andrew Shaps who had singled, and an RBI single from WCL Player of the Week Shane McGuire, would score Harry Shipley in the fifth to start that three run inning for the ‘Cats.
The HarbourCats lead did not last long, as the Bells would get to McKillican for back-to-back singles to start the sixth and then reliever Dylan Thorp would surrender a two-RBI single to Ernie Yake to put the Bells back in front 7-6. A Chase Illig single would then score Yake and the Bells would take that 8-5 lead into the seventh.
Bellingham would strike for three more runs in the top of the seventh, this time off HarbourCats reliever Connor Whitney, the highlight being a two-run mammoth home run over the scoreboard in left field from the Bells Max Flowers.
The HarbourCats would respond with three of their own in the bottom of the frame, thanks to RBI singles from Shipley and Shaps and an RBI groundout from McGuire, but that would be all the HarbourCats could muster, as the Bells bullpen, including Tanner West and Josh Zavisuban, would pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth respectively to close out the 11-9 win for the Bells.
For Bellingham, Flowers finished with a four hit evening with a pair of RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Colby Barrick also had a four hit night and four other players, including Austin Shenton, Illig, Yake and Kody Matthews chipped in two hits apiece.
The HarbourCats, who had 10 hits of their own, were led by Andrew Shaps with a pair of hits, three RBIs and a run scored. Vansau had a pair of hits and pair of runs scored, while McGuire added a hit, two RBIs and two runs scored in the losing effort.
On the mound, the Bells Cooper Misic takes the win in relief of starter Patrick Siler who went 4.2 innings giving up six runs on six hits. Zavisuban gets the save, his fifth of the season. McKillican takes the loss for the HarbourCats, falling to 5-2 on the year.
Victoria and Bellingham play game two of their series on Tuesday night with the HarbourCats slated to send Taylor Prokopis (3-2) to the mound to face Bellingham’s Rogelio Reyes (1-4). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM.
The Wenatchee AppleSox were idle on Monday night, but open a critical three-game series against the Corvallis Knights on Tuesday. They will then close out the season with three games against the Bellingham Bells in another series that could play a critical deciding factor in the North Division pennant race. The HarbourCats finish the series with Bellingham Wednesday, then play a pair in Port Angeles on the weekend to end the season.
Cat Scratches: Plenty of additional changes are happening as the season nears its conclusion and players begin heading home for school, due to injuries or because they have been shut down by their college coaches. Latest HarbourCats casualties include RHP Indigo Diaz (innings cap), LHP Jack Owen (shut down), C Tanner Rempel (injury), and LHP Claire Eccles (to Canadian National team). OF/P Connor Whitney will also be departing following the Bellingham Series. Joining the team to fill the gaps this week are LHP Cole Masik (LSU Shreveport), RHP Garrison Ritter (Saint Martin’s) and LHP Dylan Thorp (Bellevue University). Infielder Justin Orton has also rejoined the team.