Bells even series with Sweets, 2-1

Second baseman Reggie Southall makes a desperation throw to first base after a grounder up the middle, but the throw isn’t in time to catch the runner.

Second baseman Reggie Southall makes a desperation throw to first base after a grounder up the middle, but the throw isn’t in time to catch the runner. Photo by Joe Tierney.

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WALLA WALLA — Matt Mendenhall’s one-run blast was all the Sweets could manage Saturday night as they lost a pitchers’ duel, 2-1, to the Bellingham Bells at Borleske Stadium.

The loss drops the Sweets to 21-17 in West Coast League play, but Walla Walla remains one game back of first place thanks to North-leading Wenatchee’s 3-2 loss to Victoria.

The Bells, however, are now just half a game behind Walla Walla at 20-17.

Bellingham starter Nate Cole went 6 2/3rds innings before Mendenhall’s solo home run and a walk to Spencer O’Neil brought the hook. Cole gave up four hits in his outing while striking out six and walking two.

The Bells bullpen stepped up from there, however, as Chris Van Dyke, Will Dennis and Marc Huberman combined to hold Walla Walla hitless over the remaining 2 1/3rds innings.

Walla Walla starter Chris Lovejoy went eight full innings, giving up one earned run while striking out seven and walking none.

A comedy of errors befuddled the Sweets in the eighth, however.

After recording an out to begin the frame, Walla Walla gave up two free bases with an error and a hit-by-pitch. Another error allowed those runners to get into scoring position and Aaron Sandefur brought them home with a single. Lovejoy struck out the next batter and caught a runner stealing to escape the frame, but the damage was done as the Sweets went down in order in the ninth.

Walla Walla faces the Bells today at 5:05 p.m. for the rubber match of the closely contested series.

Bells 2, Sweets 1

Bells 000 000 020 — 2 4 0

Sweets 000 000 100 — 1 4 3

Cole, Van Dyke (7), Dennis (8), Huberman (9) and Bailey. Lovejoy, Dillman (9) and Reay, Martinez.

HR — Sweets: Mendenhall (4).

Hits — Bells: Sewald, Calbrick, Sandefur, Beall; Sweets: Mendenhall 2, O’Neil, Reay.

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