Bulldogs need extras to sweep Skagit in season finale

Photo by Amy Leong

On a sun-chalked Monday afternoon, the Bellevue Bulldog men’s baseball team vanpooled up I-5 to Mount Vernon to face Skagit Valley in a double header in the regular season finale. Just one day earlier the Skagit Valley Cardinals had made an identical trip to Courter Field for a double header, which Bellevue swept.

With first place in the North region already locked up, Bellevue had only pride and the desire to increase their winning percentage left to play for.

Matt Cooper, a 6’1 right-hander from Marysville, got the start for the Bulldogs and pitched a complete game gem, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out nine.

Bellevue jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first with an RBI double from first baseman Colin Hering. Bellevue proceeded to play add on, increasing their lead with one run in the third and three more in the fourth.

In the seventh, with the bases loaded, a pitch hit catcher Brady Kerr, forcing in a run. One batter later, a wild pitch by Cardinals freshmen pitcher Nick Rothermel allowed another run to score. Before it was all said and done, Bellevue had amassed nine runs to Skagit Valleys zero, and took game one 9-0.

Game two was a different story but same results. The Bulldogs struck first again, this time with three runs in the top of the third. The scoring got started when Marc Dickerson grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Jerad Casper. Right fielder Nick Lombardi followed by ripping a double to the outfield scoring Alex Ross. Tyler Baumgartner, who is hitting an astronomical .425 for the season, then followed with a single that scored Lombardi, resulting in an early cushion for Bellevue starting pitcher Jeff Gonzales.

The lead was short lived as Gonzales allowed one run in the fourth and four runs in the sixth before being pulled for reliever Jonathan Humphrie. Gonzales finished with a stat line that read five innings pitched, five runs on seven hits with two base on balls.

The score remained 5-3 going into the ninth inning. Bellevue centerfielder Dickerson led off the top of the ninth with a solo homerun, trimming the deficit to just one run. Max Brown followed with a single, and it appeared Bellevue was in business as their best hitter Baumgartner stepped to the plate. Baumgartner sacrificed Brown to second, bringing third baseman Nate Litka to the plate. Litka looked at ball one before grounding out to the second baseman. Bellevue’s last hope for victory rested on the shoulders of Dustin Breshears, and after working a 2-2 count Breshears smacked a double, scoring Brown and tying the game at 5-5. Hering grounded out to the first baseman to end the inning. Humphrie pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning to force the game into extras.

After a scoreless tenth, the Bulldogs led off the eleventh with an explosion of offense. Walked batters, hit by pitches, a flurry of singles and doubles, a homerun by Hering, and before you knew it, the Bulldogs had put up seven runs and taken a commanding 12-5 lead.

Willy Reel came in to pitch the bottom of the eleventh; shutting down Skagit Valley and securing the road sweep in Mount Vernon.

The Bulldogs finished the season first in the NWAACC north region ahead of second place Everett, with a record of 33-8, winning their last eight consecutive games.

Bellevue will next play in the North Region Tourney Friday through Sunday May 18-20, followed by the NWAACC Championships at Lower Columbia College May 24-28.