BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Yakima Valley Pippins suffered a late loss to the Bellingham Bells to open up a 3-game weekend series at Joe Martin Field on Friday, falling 7-6 to open the series. A 2-RBI double from Bellingham’s Jordan Vujovich in the bottom of the 7th inning ended up being the difference.
For the second straight night, the Pippins (6-3) jumped out to an early lead, scoring a run on a Zach Lew sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. It was a lead they would hold until the fourth, when the Bells struck for two off of Pippins starter Cameron Liss, who took a no-decision. Liss allowed the 2 runs – only one of which was earned – over his four innings, walking one and striking out 5 on 3 hits.
An unusual set of circumstances led to the Pippins tying the game in the fifth inning. After a leadoff single, Bellingham reliever Marcos Cuenca got back-to-back strikeouts out of the bullpen, but followed it up with 14 consecutive balls, which led to the tying run being walked in before he was pulled out of the game. Although the bases remained loaded, the Pippins failed to score from there.
Bellingham starter Matt Henckel went 4.1 innings, allowing 2 runs, only one of which was earned, on 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout. Bellingham added runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings to put reliever Danny Garcia on the hook for the win, but the Pippins answered with a big top of the 7th.
After three consecutive errors cut the score to 5-4, Tanner Parker came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. After falling behind in the count, he worked the count full, and later lined a go-ahead, 2-RBI single to put the Pippins in the lead.
The Bells, however, answered back when Vujovich took a pitch from Ayden Adams into the right-center field gap with two runners on to take a 7-6 lead that the Bells would not relinquish. Adams took his first loss for the Pippins after allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks over 2.1 innings of work. Jahred Butler, in his Pippins debut, tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.
Jimmy Chatfield closed things out with 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for Bellingham, striking out five and allowing just two baserunners (one hit, one walk). He earned the win in relief, his first of the year.
The two teams resume their three-game weekend series on Saturday with a 6:35 PM PT first pitch. Left-hander Darius Garcia will make his Pippins debut as the starter. Right-hander Nick Proctor will start for Bellingham, making his Bells debut. Pregame coverage with Miles Klotz begins at 6:20 PM PT at pippinsbaseball.com/live.