Multi-tasking with his eye on the pitcher, contemplating the steal to 2nd base and blowing bubbles with his gum, Walla Walla Sweets baserunner Spencer O'Neil gets a little gum ball in while hunkered down with Bellingham 1st baseman Grant Fink during the 6th inning of Tuesday night's baseball game at Borleske Stadium. The Bells burst Walla Walla bubble with a 4-0 WCL win.
Walla Walla Adam Gunn fired eight scoreless innings and Jarel Lewis collected two hits - including a two-run home run - to lead the Bellingham Bells to a 4-0 victory over the Walla Walla Sweets in the opening game of a three-game West Coast League East Division baseball series Tuesday night at Borleske Stadium.
Gunn allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out 11.
"Gunn was pretty good," Bellingham manager Gary Hatch said. "He was gunnin' ‘em down. When his pitches are working, he's pretty good. He seemed to have a good feel for (the game)."
Bellingham's win, coupled with Wenatchee's 12-7 triumph over Kelowna on Tuesday, increased the Bells' advantage to 3 1/2 games over the Falcons in the race for the East's second and final playoff spot.
Bellingham, now 28-17 on the season, trails first-place Wenatchee by 2 1/2 games.
Tuesday's loss dropped the last-place Sweets to 19-26 and nine games behind Bellingham with nine games to play.
Though he enjoyed a solid night offensively, Lewis made his initial impact on the contest in the bottom of the first inning when he robbed Walla Walla's Spencer O'Neil of an RBI hit with a diving catch in right field.
"It was a beauty," Hatch said. "That kind of stuff catches fire and sets the momentum going a little bit."
Lewis' long fly - a blast off of Walla Walla starting pitcher Tyler Roberts that cleared the hand-operated scoreboard in left field - broke a scoreless tie in the second inning.
"Lewis turned the bat loose," Hatch said. "He's starting to get it back together."
The Bells added single runs in both the third and sixth innings.
Walla Walla, which outhit Bellingham 9-6, was unable to take advantage of numerous scoring opportunities. The Sweets left two runners on base in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
In the home half of the ninth, Walla Walla put runners at first and third with one out.
But Ryan Cooper bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
The Sweets stranded nine runners in the game and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"You've got to cash in opportunities," Walla Walla manager J.C. Biagi said. "We didn't have very good at-bats. We let them off the hook with pitches out of the zone, but give their guy credit. It came down to a lack of production offensively."
Roberts lasted into the sixth inning before being relieved by Connor Lawhead, who gave up one hit, one walk, and fanned three over three frames.
Zach Brandon pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sweets and struck out two.
Game two of the series is tonight at 7:05.
Bells 4, Sweets 0
Bells 021 001 000 - 4 6 0
Sweets 000 000 000 - 0 9 0
Gunn, Engel (9) and Winterburn; Roberts, Lawhead (6), Brandon (9) and Turner.
HR - Bells: Lewis.
Hits - Bells: Lewis 2, Hatch, Santos, Atkinson, Winterburn; Sweets: Zeile 2, Robinson 2, Brackenridge, O'Neil, Paulino, Jacobs, Turner.