Following a loss to Victoria on Thursday that capped off a 4-1 homestand, the Yakima Valley Pippins hit the road this weekend to start a three-game series with the Bellingham Bells at Joe Martin Field. The Bells, at 5-4 on the season, sit 1.5 games behind the Pippins in the WCL North Division Standings. First pitch for Friday’s series opener is set for 6:35 PM PT, with left-hander Cameron Liss expected to start for the Pippins. Bellingham has not announced a projected starter. Pregame coverage (audio only) begins with Miles Klotz at pippinsbaseball.com/live at 6:20 PM.
PIPPINS BULLPEN FALTERS LATE AS VICTORIA SPLITS SERIES: The Pippins dropped the second game of their short two-game series with Victoria at Yakima County Stadium on Thursday by a final score of 5-3. After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead off of Victoria left-hander Dillon Larsen in the bottom of the first after an RBI single from Daniel Cipriano, the Pippins led much of the way, holding on to a 3-1 lead headed into the eighth inning. From there, after two quick outs to start the frame, the HarbourCats used a fly ball lost in the lights, a dropped third strike, and a pair of two-out, RBI singles to post a 4-spot in the 8th inning and take a 5-3 lead. Matt Amhrein came on to close it out and pick up his 3rd save of the year in the 9th inning. Nick Brown took the loss for the Pippins, falling to 1-0, while Joseph Brandon improved to 2-0 for Victoria.
FOR THE PIPPINS: Left-hander Cameron Liss will make his first start of the season on Friday night in Bellingham. The 6-foot, 175-pound native of Spokane, Washington, and rising sophomore at Spokane Falls Community College was originally scheduled to make his first start last Saturday against Wenatchee, but ended up coming out of the bullpen to earn the win. Against the AppleSox, he threw 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
FOR THE BELLS: Bellingham has not announced a projected starter for tonight’s game.
A LOOK AT THE BELLS: Bellingham enters play this weekend with a record of 5-4, tied for second in the WCL North Division with Port Angeles, and 1.5 games back of the Pippins in the 1st half divisional race. The Bells are in the midst of a 6-game homestand, which began earlier this week when they took 2 out of 3 from Cowlitz. Also this season, Bellingham has taken a home series from Kelowna to open the year, and dropped 2 out of 3 in Port Angeles to the Lefties last weekend.
A HISTORIC VENUE: The Pippins and Bells will square off at Joe Martin Field this weekend, one of the older and more historic ballparks in the West Coast League. The stadium, originally constructed in 1964, was home to the Seattle Mariners’ affiliate in the Northwest League from 1977 through 1994, known as the Bellingham Mariners (or, colloquially, the “Baby M’s”). The stadium was the first professional stop on the journey of future Hall of Famers Ken Griffey, Jr., and Edgar Martinez, as well as other pros such as Joe Nathan, Rick Sutcliffe, Derek Lowe, and Mike Hampton. Originally natural grass, the entire field (excluding the pitcher’s mound) was converted to FieldTurf in 2015.
BRAMWELL BATTERS IN DEBUT: In need of an offensive spark, the Pippins got a much-needed boost from newcomer Spencer Bramwell on Thursday. The Colorado Mesa catcher/infielder, whose arrival in Yakima was delayed due to Mesa’s performance in the Division 2 College World Series, had 2 hits in his Pippins debut, including a hard-hit ground ball single smartly pushed the opposite way through the right side of the infield. He also walked once to reach three times in his debut. Bramwell’s Mesa teammate, right-handed pitcher Jahred Butler, also joined the team Thursday, but did not pitch.
ODDS & ENDS: The Pippins were stolen off of a season-high 6 times on Thursday, without one successful caught stealing…the Pippins made 3 mid-inning pitching changes on Thursday, the most of any game in 2019…the five pitchers used last night were also the most of any game in 2019…Pippins pitching walked 8 batters on Thursday, a third of their total walks on the season (24).