BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Clutch hitting and solid pitching helped Walla Walla to an 8-1 victory over Bellingham here Thursday night at Joe Martin Field in the first game of a three-game West Coast League baseball series.
Left-hander Chris Lovejoy tossed eight complete innings, allowed just one earned run on six hits and struck out four Bells hitters. Coming off of a start in which he pitched 6.2 hitless frames against the Wenatchee AppleSox, Lovejoy retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, interrupted only by Eric Angerer’s one-out walk in the second inning.
Bellingham threatened to score in the fifth inning when it loaded the bases, but Lovejoy worked out of the jam with a fly ball to left field. Bellingham then managed to push across its only run of the game in the sixth on RJ Ybarra’s sacrifice fly.
Walla Walla started the scoring in the top of the fifth when Reggie Southall led off with a single. After a walk to Kramer Lindell, Renae Martinez singled Southall home for his third RBI of the year.
With one out in the sixth, a single and two walks loaded the bases. Lindell followed with a single into center field that plated Mendehall for a 2-0 Sweets lead.
Walla Walla tacked on in the seventh inning.
Dom Miroglio singled with one out before center fielder Luke Persico walked and Mendenhall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Paulino was hit with a pitch to force in the first run of the inning and Southall singled to drive in two more.
With Walla Walla up 5-1, Lindell followed with a double to the right-center field wall, scoring Paulino and Southall, but Lindell was cut down trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
John Skrbec scored on a wild pitch, which capped the scoring at 8-1 in the Sweets eighth.
Lovejoy retired the first two hitters he faced in the Bells ninth but labored to get the third out. Sweets manager J.C. Biagi summoned Connor Lawhead from the bullpen at that point and Lawhead induced an infield pop-fly to end the game.
The win moves Walla Walla to within 1 1/2 games of first place Victoria in the North Division with an 11-8 record. The Bells dipped to 10-6 and are still clinging to second in the division, one game behind the HarbourCats and a half step ahead of the Sweets.
Lovejoy collected his second win of the year and Bells starter Andrew Olson took his first loss of the season. In five innings of work, Olson allowed only one earned run while striking out six.
The teams meet again in Bellingham tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Sweets 8, Bells 1
Walla Walla 000 011 510 — 8 14 2
Bellingham 000 001 000 — 1 6 1
Lovejoy, Lawhead (9) and Martinez; Olson, Paulson (6), Dennis (7), Sandefur (7), Phillips (9) and Ybarra, Leverett (7).
Hits — WW: Lindell 2, Martinez 3, Vilter, Skrbec, Miroglio 2, Mendenhall 2, Southall 3; Bellingham: Sewald, Farrington 2, Calbcik, Yamane, Annunziata.