RIDGEFIELD – Bellingham threw the first haymaker, though Ridgefield’s counterattacks against the top team in the West Coast League were even stronger.
The Raptors scored nine unanswered runs after spotting the Bells a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, and held on for a 13-7 win in Tuesday’s series opener at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Bellingham scored three runs on three hits, including doubles from Elijah Hainline and Blake Conrad, in the top of the first inning to give the visitors a quick 3-0 lead.
But as it turned out, the Raptors’ best defense against the Bells (21-9) was a potent offense.
Ridgefield (18-12) needed just two innings to tie the game at 3-3, then the lead in the fourth on a Nate Kirkpatrick RBI ground out to score Alex Sepulveda. That set up a five-run fifth inning when Ridgefield blew the game open when Will Chambers and Justin Trimble each hit two-run homers and Doyle Kane scored on an Alex Sepulveda ground out.
“A lot of other teams aren’t going to like this, but I think we have the best offense in the league,” said Chambers. “When a guy’s not going good, everybody else picks him up. I mean, I’ve been struggling the last 3-4 series, and all these guys have picked me up and play great. It’s huge to get a hit in this offense and be a part of it.”
Chambers, Ridgefield’s primary designated hitter from Utah Tech, has been in the midst of a slump dating back to late June as his batting average dipped below .300 and had seven games with multiple strikeouts.
Tuesday’s home run provided an important confidence boost for last season’s WCL leader in homers, and it came at a crucial moment for the Raptors as well.
Chambers’ home run put the Raptors ahead 6-3, and following a Sepulveda RBI to score Doyle Kane, Trimble followed with a two-run blast to put the Raptors up 9-3.
“I felt like I needed it,” Chambers said. “To be honest, these guys have been awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever slumped as bad as I have the last couple series. Just for our offense to keep swinging it the way they have, it’s been super helpful because it takes a lot of pressure off.. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t feel a little bit of pressure coming in, but there was also the factor of, OK, I just got to get small jobs done, just hit the ball hard. If it lands, it lands, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. This offense will take care of the rest.”
Although Bellingham threatened to come back with three runs in the sixth, highlighted by Conrad’s two-run homer, the Raptors’ lead was safe from there.
With the win, Ridgefield snapped a two-game losing skid suffered on the road against the Yakima Valley Pippins and handed Bellingham its first loss in a series opener since June 10.
Way down the line – Doyle Kane answered Bellingham’s fast start in the top of the first inning with a two-out, two-run double down the third base line in the bottom half.
Nimble Trimble – As Bellingham threatened to break a 3-3 tie with two runners on in the fourth inning, Ridgefield third baseman Justin Trimble adjusted to an Elijah Hainline line drive, made the catch and flipped to second for a 5-4 double play, ending the frame.
Heads-up play – Bellingham loaded the bases with a pair of base hits and a walk against Ridgefield relief pitcher Eli Shubert in the seventh inning, but were left stranded on a pop fly behind home plate that Ridgefield catcher Jacob Sharp tracked down for the third out.
Trent Prokes – Hitting in the three-hole, the Cal State Bakersfield product raised his batting average by more than 20 points in a 4-for-4 outing with a double and solo home run. Prokes’ .402 average is the best in the WCL.
Justin Trimble – Trimble hit his second home run of the season as part of a 2-for-4 effort with three RBI.
Blake Conrad – Bellingham’s best hitter of the night was Conrad, who finished with a team-high three hits and four RBI, including a double and home run.
9 – Unanswered runs Ridgefield scored after spotting Bellingham a 3-0 lead. The Bells stopped the Raptors’ streak with a Blake Conrad two-run homer in the sixth.
25 – Home runs for the Raptors this season, the most in the WCL ahead of the Bend Elks (24) in second. Between Chambers, Trimble and Prokes, the Raptors added three to the season total on Tuesday.
2.47 – Bellingham’s combined team ERA entering Tuesday, the best mark in the West Coast League.
RIDGEFIELD 13, BELLINGHAM 7
Bellingham 300 003 001—7 11 1
Ridgefield 210 150 30x—13 15 5
Pitching – Wesley Moore 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 BB; Aidan Rodell 2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 0 K, 2 BB.; Austin Sheldon 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Jace Phelan 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Elijah Hainline 1-5, R, 2B; Cole Hage 1-4, R; Justin Thorsteinson 1-3, R, 2B; Christopher Campos R; Blake Conrad 3-5, R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI; Jaidon Matthews 1-5, R; Touissaint Bythewood 2-4; Cody Russell 2-4, R.
Pitching – Ryan Harvey 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 3 BB; Jacob Kokeny 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Andy Evans 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Eli Shubert 2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB; Michael Lozano 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jacob Sharp 2-3, R; Austin Caviness R; Trent Prokes 4-4, 2B, HR, RBI; Will Chambers 1-5, R, HR, 3 RBI; Doyle Kane 2-5, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mikey Kane 2-5; Alex Sepulveda 1-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI; Nate Kirkpatrick 1-3 2 R, RBI; Justin Trimble 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI.