For the second straight night, Bellingham needed extra innings to claim a winner.
Unlike the 5-1 loss on Wednesday that took 13 innings to finish, the Bells got a timely hit to walk off 2-1 against the Corvallis Knights.
Corvallis (1-1) struggled with command all night and the Bells finally exploited it in the bottom of the 11th.
After walking the first batter, Cole Joy laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Bells’ returnee Ernie Yake down to second. Two straight walks set up Connor Mack’s soft ground ball to Knights third baseman Corey Conklin. Conklin’s throw wasn’t in time to get the force out at home and the Bells (4-2) ended their four-game homestand on a high note.
Thursday night’s battle was another pitcher’s duel with plenty of small ball to go around. The Bellingham pitching staff has been lights out at home, allowing just two earned runs in 42 innings of play.
Nick Hull got the nod for the Bells and fit right in as he threw a spectacular contest in the no-decision.
The only blemish of Hull’s one-hit gem, and the entire Bells’ pitching staff, came in the top of the third. The inning started off unconventionally as Jack Machtoff couldn’t get the leadoff runner after losing his right shoe on a ground ball to his right.
The error forced Hull into the stretch where the righty didn’t look comfortable. After six straight balls, a mound visit from pitching coach Jim Clem got the Bells’ starter back on track.
Clem’s message assisted Hull on the next two batters. However, with two outs, Austin Baek singled up the middle to give Corvallis the lead, on a tight play at the plate.
The Bells didn’t trail for long. A wild bottom of the fifth gave Bellingham its first run in 14 consecutive scoreless innings. The Bells did so without acquiring a single hit in the inning.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, Dusty Stroup battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk. A pass ball allowed the Bells’ third baseman to trot down to second base. Stroup wasn’t done running as a wild pitch permitted the junior infielder to third.
Corvallis starter Daniel Slominski couldn’t find the zone to send Connor Mack down to first on the walk. The control issues didn’t subdue for Knights’ starter who threw the ball to the backstop yet again on a 2-2 pitch to Cody Pasic, to score Stroup to tie things up 1-1.
In his first appearance of the 2018 campaign, freshman Nick Nastrini was phenomenal. The UCLA freshman commit threw four perfect innings, striking out five runners in the process.
Taylor Davis followed suit, picking up the win in his two innings of scoreless relief.
The Bells take to the road and begin their three-game series against the Port Angeles Lefties on Friday night. After a day off, Bellingham will travel to take on the Bend Elks in a three-game series, before returning home.
Tomorrow’s first pitch in Port Angeles is scheduled for 6:35 pm at Civic Field.