Facing the worst team in the North Division, the Bellevue College baseball team was in a prime position to take the division title in their final four games. Down just one game from Everett, winning one more game than them in the final four would tie their records, and the 5-3 head-to-head lead that Bellevue has could potentially break the tie.
The first of the two games on June 4 was a slaughter. A Troy Baunsgard home run in the first inning put the Bulldogs up 2-0, and it would only get better for the Bellevue squad. The score remained the same until the bottom of the fourth when Fred Buckson struck out but reached first base anyways on an error. From there, the floodgates opened. Bryce Lindberg walked and Mack Mahovlich opened the scoring with an RBI double. Marques Titialii was the next batter, who plated two more with a single. Josiah Santiago singled so Baunsgard could double and score the two runs again. Nick Hovland had the final hit of the inning, a two-out RBI double to put Bellevue in a commanding 8-0 lead. Olympic would put up two in the fifth inning to chip away at the lead, but Bellevue scored four more over the fifth and sixth innings to take the win in the first game at 12-2.
The second game was far closer, with a 2-1 game going into the ninth. Kye Seitz accounted for both Bellevue RBIs, reaching on an error in the second and singling in the fourth. Trevin Hope had pitched six one-run innings and Connor Portugal had thrown two scoreless thus far. However, the game fell out from under them in the ninth. Tyler Black doubled with one out before scoring when Lukas Delisle reached on an error. A single and a walk followed before Kade Kupihea recorded the second out of the inning. From there, Kyuta Miyoshi scored two with a double and Kazu Arashiro scored two more when he reached on an error. The inning ended, and so too did the game. It was 6-2 Olympic to split the first day. Although five runs scored, the errors made it so none of them counted against Portugal, who came out of the game with the rare five runs but zero earned runs on the night.
Olympic held a 5-3 lead exiting the fourth inning on June 5, with Kai Matsumoto having driven in four of them. A Seitz single in the sixth and a Tyler Miller home run in the eighth tied the game at five heading into the bottom of the inning. Quincy Vassar had pitched three scoreless innings so far with five strikeouts and was entering his fourth. The first two men got on, putting runners at first and third with none out. Kupihea struck out, but Arashiro delivered the killing blow on an RBI single before Vassar promptly got the final two outs. Bellevue did not score in the ninth, and it was a 6-5 win for Olympic.
Looking to split the final series, Bellevue put up four runs on four base hits in the first inning. It was quiet dominance for Calvin Kirchoff, who kept the 4-0 lead into the fifth when the Rangers put up three runs to narrow the lead. Ian Haigh took over that inning and kept the one-run lead intact until the seventh when Arashiro tied the game at four with an RBI single. Not giving up, Bellevue took to the bats in the eighth inning. Schulte and Hovland hit back-to-back singles to lead off. Somehow, Buckson reached on an error by the catcher and made it all the way to third base, scoring the other two in the process. Harrison Clark followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring a run but emptying the bases. Not finished, Bret Otterson singled before Santiago doubled to put two in scoring position for Austin McMinds, who singled to drive them both in. Bellevue took a commanding 9-4 lead and even tacked on two more in the ninth to split the series.
Unfortunately, in Skagit Valley on the same day, Everett was wrapping up a series victory. Taking the series 3-1, they secured themselves a first place in the division with an impeccable 24-8 record. Bellevue, two games back at 22-10, would have to be satisfied with a second-place finish, even though winning nearly 70% of their ball games is seriously impressive. For them, it might have been just another episode of their very impressive run over the last few years. Everett might have won the battle this year, but Bellevue didn’t take it lying down, and I for one am very excited to see what kind of product they can deliver next year.