The Bellingham Bells defeated the Victoria HarbourCats 4-2 on Wednesday night in Joe Martin Field to advance to the second-round of the West Coast League Playoffs. The Bells swept the best-of-three-game opening series of the playoffs, with help from Malcolm Moore, who went 8-8 with five RBIs in the series.
Moore hit the go-ahead RBI single with the game knotted at 2-2 in the eighth inning, and advanced to third thanks to an error by the Cats’ center fielder that scored another run.
The HarbourCats got things started in the third, when a pair of singles put runners on the corners for last week’s WCL Player of the Week Josh Walker. Walker fought through a 10-pitch at-bat to drive Jessie Brown home with an RBI single, giving the Cats their first lead of the series.
Bellingham responded in the bottom of the inning, as Alex Fernandes hit a leadoff double to left, then Noah Meffert layed down a bunt to put runners on the corners for Moore. He continued his hot-hitting throughout the series and lined an RBI single to right that scored Fernandes, knotting the game up at one run apiece.
The Bells had several chances to take the lead; first in the fifth, when Meffert and Moore led off with a pair of singles, but Cats third baseman Noah Sudyka turned an impressive 5-3 double play to hold them off and end the inning. Then, in the sixth, they loaded the bases with two outs for Meffert, who grounded out to short and left the game tied going into the seventh.
Hudson Shupe hit a leadoff single to start the top of the eighth for the Cats, then Walker reached first on an error by Alex Fernandes at second to put runners on the corners. Afterwards, Nick Lee sent a sac fly to right that scored Shupe from third to help the Cats capitalize and take the 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Touissaint Bythewood and Connor Bourbon each drew walks, then advanced to second and third on a bunt by Fernandes. Meffert chopped an infield single to short to bring Bythewood home, then Moore followed with the go-ahead RBI single that was botched by the Cats’ center fielder, scoring Bourbon and Meffert, and advancing More to third as the Bells took a 4-2 advantage.
Cameron Dayton closed the game out on the mound in the ninth, striking out the side to give the Bells the series win. Trevin Hope started the game with six innings, one run allowed and seven K’s, then was followed by Evan Stewart and Lukas Frers, with Frers earning the win. HarbourCats closer Ben Smedshammer took the loss, allowing three runs, two of them earned, in the key eighth inning.
Malcolm Moore was the uncrowned MVP of the series, going 5-5 in the clinching game with a pair of RBIs. Moore reached base every time he was up to bat throughout both games, saving his best hitting for the post-season. Noah Meffert added a 3-4 night from the plate with an RBI and a run to aid the winning effort.
“Our team was putting together great innings for us the whole series; just to come through, it felt unreal,” Moore said after the game. “The energy in the clubhouse and the pregame has just been awesome, to have guys like Brandt [Pancer] and Trev [Hope] … the only thing we can do is go rake for them.”
With the win, the Bells advance to the North Division finals, where the Wenatchee AppleSox await them after sweeping the Kamloops NorthPaws by a combined margin of 29-3 between both games. That single-elimination game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 6:35 PM in Joe Martin Field, with the winner advancing to the WCL Finals.