Charlie Carmichael, nursing a one-run lead for four innings, maintained his poise throwing against city-rival Squalicum under the sun beating down on Joe Martin Field’s turf surface.
But after striking out the Storm’s Connor Sage to seal a complete game, three-hitter, the hard-throwing senior right-hander showed why Bellingham coach David Farrell considers him one of the club’s most competitive players.
Carmichael flexed emphatically walking off the mound before making his way to catcher Dante Check for a quick, powerful embrace.
The Red Raiders needed only one run with Carmichael at work, and Bellingham got it in the third inning off Storm starter Harper Moore. Carmichael pounded the strike zone, kept the ball down and didn’t allow a walk in what he considered his best outing of the year, helping the Red Raiders earn a 1-0 Northwest Conference win Thursday, April 16.
“Dante was calling a great game,” said Carmichael, who struck out four and pushed his record to 4-0. “I hardly ever shook him off. The defense also played phenomenal out there. They really helped me out with some plays.”
The strong outing was just the latest pitching exhibit from a duo that is becoming one of the best one-two punches in the NWC. Two days earlier, Brad Johnson went the distance against Blaine, striking out nine.
Much has changed for the Red Raiders the past two weeks. Twelve days ago they were 2-9 overall and 2-1 in the NWC. Now Bellingham (6-9, 6-1 NWC) has reeled off four straight and are one of the league’s hottest teams.
“These last two weeks have been very, very exciting,” Farrell said. “Guys are playing well; they’re playing for each other. Seeing how much these guys want to play for each other, we got 11 seniors. They want to finish on a strong note.”
Run production hasn’t been the hallmark of Bellingham’s win streak, and Moore, who threw a complete game, kept the Red Raiders off the basepaths most of the afternoon.
But a third inning Alex Richard leadoff single into right-center field sparked a string of hits that helped push one across.
Bellingham posed a serious threat in the inning after Johnson drove in Richard with an RBI single and Check followed with a single to give the Red Raiders the bases loaded with no outs.
Moore, though, got Nate Pearsall to pop out, and Ernie Yake and Kyle Little turned a beautiful 6-4-3 double play to thwart Bellingham’s potential big inning.
Meanwhile, Carmichael rolled through Squalicum’s lineup.
The Bellingham starter had a perfect game going through 4 2/3 before Sage reached safely on an infield single to shortstop. Ben Tripp followed with a single, giving Squalicum (11-3, 4-3 NWC) its biggest threat of the game, but Carmichael got Ben Wolters to ground out next to end the inning.
“That guy, he is really good,” Storm coach John Inge said of Carmichael. “He’s got good stuff. Every time we’ve lost, we’ve had great games pitched against us, and I think that was the best of the three.”
Squalicum’s Carter Nickelson reached base on a single in the bottom of the sixth and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Little grounded out to first, ending the inning. In the seventh, Carmichael retired the Storm in order.
Check led Bellingham with two hits, and Richard was 1 for 2 with a run scored and a walk.
Bellingham 1, Squalicum 0
WP: Charlie Carmichael (4-0). LP: Harper Moore (3-1). Highlights: Squalicum: Carter Nickelson 1-3; Connor Sage 1-3; Ben Tripp 1-2. Bellingham: Dante Check 2-3; Brad Johnson 1-3, RBI; Alex Richard 1-2, R, BB.