Pippins Drop Playoff Series Opener in Bellingham

Bells' bats ring out in opener

The Bellingham Bells roughed up the Yakima Valley Pippins in the first game of the WCL North Divisional Round, winning 14-1 at home to open the series.

Connor Coballes started the game with an eight-pitch walk, and Chaz Myers followed by reaching on catcher’s interference. Both runners moved up on a groundout by Sam Olsson, and Willie Lajoie drove in Coballes with a single to give the Pippins an early 1-0 lead.

The Bells responded in the bottom of the first inning against Kenny Johnson, with Bennett Lee starting the inning with a double. He would score on a single to tie the game. 

From that point on, the momentum was decidedly with the Bells, who scored at least two runs in every other inning except for the sixth and eighth innings.

Johnson was lifted after two complete innings in favor of Dylan Bishop. Johnson had allowed four runs on six hits and took the loss. Bishop also struggled, allowing four runs over the next two innings. He went out for the fifth, but allowed back-to-back home runs to Luis Aviles and Cole Hinkleman before the Pippins turned to Payton Robertson. Robertson also allowed a run in the inning, but held the Bells off by stranding the bases loaded in the sixth.

He allowed two more runs in the seventh inning before giving way to Julian Taudin-Chabot in the eighth. Taudin-Chabot allowed a two-out walk in an otherwise uneventful eighth inning.

For the Bells, Tommy O’Rourke started on the mound. He gave up the lone run in four innings of work, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out eight.

Looking to preserve his arm for a future playoff game, the Bells turned to Trevin Hope, who entered with an 8-1 lead, in the fifth.

Hope retired the first six batters he faced before finally allowing a hit to Taylor Holder to leadoff the seventh inning. Holder advanced to third base but was ultimately left there as Hope retired the next nine batters to finish off the game.

Hope was credited with the win because O’Rourke did not pitch deep enough into the game.

The Pippins and Bells will travel back to Yakima for game two of the best-of-three series Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and fireworks to follow the game. Tickets can be purchased at PippinsTickets.com.

By Chris Rosato Jr.

August 15, 2021