BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham Bells are far from a finished product. The team, still in the early stages of the season, are still getting players from out of town and just getting to know each other.
The games still count, though, and the lack of knowing who and where everyone was cost the Bells a win, as Bellingham fell 5-4 to Klamath Falls on Monday, June 9, at Joe Martin Field.
In the top of the ninth inning, with the Bells leading 4-3, a high pop up from Gems' Hunter Hanlon rose above the lights down the left-field line. Third baseman Dallas Carroll and left fielder Aaron Stroosma both sprinted to the predicted landing spot.
They both got there, but at the same time. As they collided, the ball dropped. Two batters later, Kody Kuhlman smashed a two-RBI double to give the Gems the lead and eventually the win.
"Some of these guys are just learning each other's names let alone how to play together," pitching coach Jim Clem said after the game. "It'll come together fast. We actually played well, we just didn't win the game."
The Bells took the 4-3 lead in the sixth inning, when first baseman Danny Miller lined a double into right field to score three runs.
It was a breakthrough moment for the Bells, who had left nine men on base before the sixth, unable to capitalize on Gems starting pitcher Michael Silva's lack of control. Silva threw six walks.
Miller didn't hesitate either. Just as his name finished ringing through the speaker system, Miller hit the first pitch hard.
"We had lots of guys on base and lots of opportunities to score," Clem said. "That's just baseball, you don't always get a hit when you need it and that's what happened tonight."
The Bells did get a run in the second inning off a Nate Anderson RBI groundout, but the Bells' bats didn't come through quite as much as they did in Bellingham's first series, when they scored 32 runs in three games with Walla Walla.
It was instead the Bells' pitching that impressed the most.
Zach Johnson pitched five innings and struck out seven, including two strikeouts looking in the first inning. He allowed five hits and three walks.
"That's the first time we've seen Zach Johnson throw, so we're very pleased," Clem said. "We're very impressed by what he did tonight. He kept his composure. He mixed up his pitches. He's a quality left-handed pitcher. That was really good to see."
Aside from a three-run third inning, Johnson was stellar. He had retired the first six batters up to that point, but he walked two in the third, allowed a RBI single and an error by the Bells put the Gems ahead.
Side-armer David Bigelow relieved Johnson in the sixth and pitched three innings of no-hit baseball, while striking out two.
It was closer AJ Konopaski who was credited with the loss for a unfortunate ninth inning that had a line drive ricochet off Konopaski's leg to go along with the two-run blown save.
The Bells ended the game with eight hits and three errors.
Stroosma was the star at the plate for the Bells, as he had two doubles and a single. Second baseman Ian Yetsko had a single and two walks. Designated hitter Dylan Garcia also had a single, as did catcher Jimmy Sinatro.
KLAMATH FALLS 5, BELLINGHAM 4
Klamath Falls 003 000 002 - 5 7 1
Bellingham 010 003 000 - 0 0 0
WP: J. Jones. LP: A. Konopaski. Highlights: Bells: Aaron Stroosma 2-5, R, 2 2B; Dylan Garcia 1-3, R; Danny Miller 1-5 3RBI, 2B; Dustin Breshears 0-2, R; Dallas Carroll 1-5, R.
BELLINGHAM 15, WALLA WALLA 6
Bellingham 002 500 224 - 15 22 3
Walla Walla 101 201 100 - 6 5 5
WP: Dan Ludwig. LP: Alex Fisher. Highlights: Bells: Ian Yetsko 2-7, R, RBI; Dustin Breshears 1-5, 2RBI; Scott Heath 2-5, 2R, RBI; Dallas Carroll 4-6, 2B, R, RBI; Danny Miller 1-6, 2B, 2R; Aaron Stroosma 2-5, 3R, 2RBI; Walker Olis 4-4, 2R, 2RBI; Eric Webber 4-6, 2R, RBI; Lou Della Fera 2-4, 2R, RBI.