Williamson's league-leading sixth home run proves deciding run
The Yakima Valley Pippins opened the second half of their season with a 3-2 win over the visiting Bellingham Bells, driven by Noah Williamson’s league-leading sixth home run in West Coast League play.
Dylan Bishop started on the mound for the Pippins and allowed just one run in five innings when Daniel Gernon doubled to start the game and Yugo Hamakawa drove him in to take a 1-0 lead.
The Pippins responded in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of two errors in the inning.
Spencer Marenco and Chaz Myers started the inning with a walk and base hit, but a fly out and strikeout threatened to strand them before A.J. Davis committed an error to allow Willie Lajoie on to load the bases. Bells starter Tommy O’Rourke almost got out of the inning again, but Ty Saunders’ 10th error of the season allowed Mason Marenco to reach rather than grounding out, scoring Spencer Marenco and Myers.
The two runs were the only damage against O’Rourke, who gave way after three innings to Kai Francis.
Bishop dealt after the first inning, retiring the next 11 batters before allowing a double, but he earned his season-high seventh strikeout of the night to get out of the fifth inning without another run.
Williamson’s solo shot to left field led off the bottom of the fifth inning. It traveled 429 feet and left the bat at 109 miles-per-hour, reaching a max height of 118 feet, according to Trackman.
Outside of the home run by Williamson, the Pippins had no real answer for Francis, who pitched the final five innings for Bellingham while allowing just the one run on one hit, walking one and hitting one batter.
The Pippins turned to Payton Robertson in the sixth, who turned in a 1-2-3 sixth but gave up a run in the seventh after a leadoff walk and a triple by Malakhi Knight.
With the tying run on third base and no outs, Saunders hit a sharp line drive towards Mason Marenco, who caught the ball and immediately stepped on third base to double up Knight. Robertson walked Davis before striking out Ezra Samperi to end the half-inning with a 3-2 lead.
Landon Schirer was asked to deliver his fourth six-out save in as many chances and delivered, despite hitting the first batter in the eighth inning and walking another two with one out to load the bases. His second and third strikeouts of the inning left the bases loaded.
In the ninth inning, Schirer allowed his first two hits of the season to put runners on first and second, but Samperi popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt and Mason Marenco made a diving catch on the infield for the first out.
A pair of lineouts by Emilio Corona and Gernon ended the Bells’ comeback attempt and moved Schirer into a tie for second place in the league with four saves despite joining the team eight days ago. Bishop (3-1, 5.04 ERA) was awarded the win for his efforts while O’Rourke (0-1, 1.80 ERA) was tagged with the loss.
The Pippins and Bells continue their series through Sunday, with Saturday’s first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.