With the season on the line, Nick Nastrini, Jordan Stoner and the Bells responded just the way Bob Miller and the rest of the coaching staff had hoped.
With a 4-3 victory over Kelowna, that took 12 innings to complete in game two of the West Coast League Divisional Series, Bellingham’s season will continue – at least another day.
It all began with Nastrini’s gem of a ballgame and ended with Stoner’s walk off single to left field.
Ernie Yake was able to force a lead off walk to begin the bottom of the tenth and move all the way to third. With two outs, Stoner sent a line drive to left field, ending the ballgame and forcing a game three.
“To come through after a day where I was struggling and to come up with a hit like that, it was a great feeling. It was awesome,” Stoner said.
Stoner added that he slowed down his approach and waited for his pitch, despite seeing his teammate just 90 feet away. On a 2-1 count, Stoner got his pitch and found a hole to bring home the win.
Bellingham was able to jump onto the board first in the bottom of the second inning. On pitch eight of a 3-2 count to lead off the inning, Cody Pasic picked an opportune time to collect his first homerun of the year.
The Bells weren’t done scoring as Landen Kimbro was able to give Bellingham some cushion. With two down in the bottom of the third, Kimbro plated Jordan Stoner and Matt McLain sitting in scoring position on a two-out single to center field.
In the top of the fourth inning came Nastrini’s only mistake of the day. On a 1-0 count Dan Pruitt, who has been a thorn in Bellingham’s side, collected Kelowna’s first hit of the day on a towering fly ball over the left field wall to cut the Bells lead 3-1.
The UCLA freshman-to-be threw six innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run, walking three and striking out five.
The Falcons weren’t done scoring. In the bottom of the eighth, Kelowna’s Taylor Wright took the first pitch he saw from Theron Kay over the right-centerfield fence for a one-out homerun, shrinking the Bellingham lead 3-2.
After back-to-back singles followed, head coach Miller turned to Ben Leeper in hopes for a five-out save. After a huge strikeout to the first person Leeper saw, the right-handed closer momentarily lost his command.
The hard-throwing righty walked the next two batters to tie the ballgame up at 3-3. Leeper was able to fight back with a looking strikeout to strand the bases loaded.
Nobody was able to score for 4.2 innings, until Stoner came to the dish to send the packed crowd at Joe Martin Field home.
Bellingham will take part in the winner-take-all scenario tomorrow against Kelowna. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm.