BELLINGHAM - The largest crowd in Bellingham Bells history was treated to the extension of the longest West Coast League win streak this summer.
The Bells (20-5) strung together their 12th consecutive league win, 14th overall, beating the Kitsap BlueJackets 5-2 during a WCL contest Tuesday, July 8, in front of 3,032 fans at Joe Martin Field.
"Oh man, it's been amazing. It really has," said Bells outfielder Nate Anderson. "We've just been taking it day by day and just coming out everyday and playing hard. We've done it a lot of different ways. We've blown out teams, we've won with 1-0, 2-0 games, so it's been pretty fun."
Bellingham made its fans sweat it out until Anderson hit a clutch two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to give the Bells a three-run cushion in the bottom of the eighth.
Anderson, who also scored Bellingham's first run in the third inning after hitting a leadoff double down the right-field line, finished 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Bells starting pitcher Eder Erives continued Bellingham's run of strong outings, earning the win while improving his record to 3-0. The Arizona State product lasted 5 2/3 innings, gave up two earned runs on six hits, struck out four and walked two.
Bellingham closer David Bigelow, who was selected last weeks WCL Player of the Week, entered the ninth nursing a 5-2 lead and easily earned his fifth save of the season.
"It's great because once you got a lead you usually know it's not going to be given up," said Anderson of the Bells' pitching staff, which owns the WCL's lowest ERA. "When you can score three, four runs and you know we got a pretty good shot of winning, it's a really nice feeling to have a pitching staff as good as these guys."
But Kitsap, which suffered its 13th straight loss, put Erives in an early bind.
Three of the BlueJackets' first four hitters reached base in the top of the first, and the Bells found themselves trailing 1-0 with one out and runners at first and third before Erives induced a 6-4-3 double play to escape the jam.
Bells second baseman Dustin Breshears gave Bellingham a 2-1 lead with a troublesome deep pop fly to center field that Kitsap outfielder Nick Choruby couldn't handle. Choruby tracked the ball into left center, but it bounced off his glove, allowing both Anderson and Lou Della Fera to score.
Scott Heath added to Bellingham's lead in the fifth with a slow, bouncing ground ball up the middle that scored Chris Baker from second with two outs.
Bells reliever Dan Ludwig worked the end of the sixth, seventh and eighth nearly flawlessly, helping preserve Bellingham's lead after the BlueJackets cut their deficit to 3-2 in the top of the sixth.
Erives gave up a double and single back to back, and a sac fly to center pulled Kitsap to within one run. Bellingham's starter followed with a walk, which prompted a call for Ludwig. With the tying run on third, the Bells reliever got the BlueJacket's Daniel Patzlaff to ground out to short.
"We were picking each other up," Anderson said. "Dan picked up Eder after he came out. It was great defense, great pitching, like it always is, and timely hitting."
Anderson is hoping the Bells can keep their streak going when they face Kitsap during the final game of a three-game home set on Wednesday, July 9, at Joe Martin.
"I was glad to play tonight because of all these people," Anderson said. "Two-dollar Tuesdays brings out the people, and I'm glad we could get a win for them, too, and keep the streak going. It's awesome."
The win extended Bellingham's lead in the West Division to 8.5 games over the Vancouver HarbourCats.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
BELLS 5, BLUEJACKETS 2
Bluejackets 100 001 000 - 2 7 2
Bells 002 010 02x - 5 5 1
WP: Eder Erives. LP: David Marshall. Highlights: Bells: Danny Miller 2-3 R; Dustin Breshears 1-4 2RBI; Nate Anderson 2-4 2RBI R.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.