By Jason Upton // Bells Beat Writer
Trying to form a team during summer ball can prove to be a daunting task when players keep entering and exiting. The Bells have had little lineup consistency throughout the season, with their roster in constant flux, but recent additions Malcolm Moore and Brandt Pancer out of Stanford will make the adjustments all the more easy for the team.
Moore, an incoming freshman, joined the club on July 23 and immediately bolstered their hitting. Coming out of high school as 2022’s Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year and a two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year in California sets lofty expectations, but Moore has proven himself in just a few games with the Bells.
Through August 1, Moore has strung together a seven-game hit streak through as many games with the team with no shortage of power, as shown by his four doubles and seven RBIs. He has 13 hits through those seven games, good for a batting average of .433, and gets on base with ease with six walks and a .514 OBP.
It’s not just the stats that tell the story of Moore’s physical presence in the box, either. He’s regularly in the 3 or 4 hole in the lineup, which “doesn’t phase him at all,” according to interim head coach Haydan Hastings.
Moore has been part of several clutch moments for the Bells, such as their late-game rally in a 5-4 win in Nanaimo on July 28. The Bells put together four runs in the last two innings to comeback from a 4-1 deficit, and Moore hit a key double with runners in scoring position.
“He’s so young, but he has such a mature approach at the plate, and it really stands out. One of the better hitters in the WCL, no doubt about that,” Hastings said. “When the game’s on the line, and winning runs are at third base, second base, he’s the guy we want in the box.”
The lineup flexibility Moore brings to the table is also a major component of why he fits in so well with this team. According to Hastings, Moore showed up on day one with seven different gloves. When Hastings asked Moore which position he actually played, he responded “I can play all of them.”
“It gives me that flexibility to put him anywhere and just make sure that I have that consistent, mature at-bat in our lineup every single day,” Hastings explained. “We have a luxury with Malcolm, that’s for sure, where he can play multiple different positions and it’s extremely valuable to have, especially during summer ball.”
Moore immediately felt the love from Bells fans when he arrived, and has instantly latched on to the championship hopes for this strong Bellingham ball club.
“These guys, we’re ready to make a postseason run for sure,” Moore said.
On the other side of the ball, Brandt Pancer has been a key contributor to the pitching staff for nearly a month now. Pancer, going into his junior year at Stanford, spent his first game with the Bells in a relief role, before transitioning to a mainstay of their starting rotation.
Pancer is hoping to build his skills as a starter in the WCL to help him get ready for the starting role that awaits him at Stanford. He started three games as a freshman for the Cardinals, then took a step back to a full-time relief role in his sophomore year.
“What I like most about Brandt is, if a call doesn’t go his way, it doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter to him. He gets right back on the mound and it’s the very next pitch, and it’s a competitive next pitch,” Hastings noted. “Not very often are you going to see him throw the same mistake mechanically for six, seven pitches in a row; he’s got the awareness to be able to make those adjustments and get right back into the zone.”
Through his four appearances thus far for the Bells, Pancer owns a 1.68 ERA with 19 K’s to his name. His most recent performance was his most impressive, tossing six scoreless innings against Nanaimo with 10 K’s and no walks to earn his first win of the season.
Hastings confirmed that Pancer will be starting the Bells’ first playoff game, a major vote of trust and a testament to the progress he’s made over the past month.
“Maybe early on, the stamina wasn’t there, where it was like ‘Hey, we might get three, maybe four [innings] out of him,’ but at this point now, it’s like ‘Shoot, can we leave him out there for as long as we can, do I have to pull him right now?’” Hastings joked.
While he’s clearly been enjoying himself on the mound, Pancer has also warmed up to the city of Bellingham from the get-go.
“Compared to where I was last year, I was in the Northwoods [League] last year, it’s a complete 180 change, it’s a lot better, a lot more going on, great people,” Pancer said.
Both Pancer and Moore bring a set of skills to the Bells that strongly complement the rest of the team, whether it’s hitting, pitching or fielding. With the timely additions of the two Stanford studs, the stars are aligning for a potentially deep playoff run for the Bells.
“We’re not afraid to compete, but at the same time, we’re having fun out here and we’re putting on a show for the fans,” Moore said.