A solo home run in the eighth inning by Bellingham designated hitter Matt James broke a 3-3 tie and was the difference in a 4-3 Bells win over the Victoria HarbourCats in West Coast League baseball action Sunday afternoon.
The win at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park was the second straight for South Division-leading Bellingham (15-6), following up a 10-2 victory Saturday night and a 6-5 loss to the Cats on Friday.
Victoria (9-9) trailed 3-0 heading into their half of the fifth inning, but put up three runs on a bases-clearing single by Victoria product and Baltimore Orioles draft pick Jason Willow. His laser to right was misplayed by the fielder, however, and the ball reached the fence, allowing Dustin Demeter, Adam Imwalle and Cade Brown to score and Willow to reach third.
The HarbourCats threatened in the seventh when Demeter reached third with two outs, but reliever Taylor Davis came in and forced Brown into a popout. Davis allowed just two hits the rest of the way and picked up the win, while late innings reliever Ping-Chun Ho, who gave up the homer to James, took the loss for Victoria.
Starter Tyler Hilton pitched into the fifth for Victoria, giving up four hits and three runs, only one of which was earned, while walking and striking out four each. Bells starter Ben Leeper only allowed one hit and struck out seven over three, but was replaced to start the fourth by Chris Micheles, who gave up all of Victoria’s runs.
Willow, who went 4-for-12 with a homer and three runs scored over the weekend after joining the team from the Santa Barbara Community College Vacqueros, had two hits Sunday to lead the ‘Cats along with catcher Matthew Clayton.
Victoria hits the road tomorrow (June 25) for a three-game set in Walla Walla against the Sweets starting Monday. They return home for a three-game set against Kelowna starting Friday (June 29).