Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 20, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Bellingham Bells sent Shane Hanon to the 2016 West Coast League All-Star Game for a reason. That reason was clearly on display Wednesday night in Victoria, as Hanon, the league’s leading hitter, had a pair of hits, including a three-run home run and an RBI-double, to almost single-handedly lead the Bells to a 5-3 win over the HarbourCats in front of 1,910 fans at Royal Athletic Park.
Bellingham’s Shane Hanon (12) is congratulated by team mates Andru Cardenas (5) and Gunnar Schubert after Hanon stroked a three-run homer in the top of the fifth (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The game started out as a bit of a pitchers duel between HarbourCats starter Blake Hannah and Bellingham’s starter Nick Silva, as they both pitched their way through the first three innings deadlocked in a scoreless tie.
The Bells would crack through to score in the top of the fourth, as Chase Strumpf would crack a one-out double and then come in to score on a David Banuelos triple. They would then add to that in the fifth, but not before a little drama.
Bellingham’s Chase Strumpf (#8 above) rounds third to score the Bells first run Wednesday, courtesy of a triple from a sliding David Banuelos (bottom) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Austin Shenton and Gunnar Schubert would get things going with back-to-back one-out singles and that would be followed by a base hit by Andru Cardenas that looked to have scored Shenton on a close play at the plate, but home plate umpire Nick Moore ruled that a diving Riley Guntrip, the HarbourCats catcher, had made the tag before Shenton touched the plate.
That set the stage for Hanon, who having started and played the entire All-Star game Tuesday night in Cowlitz and then drove through the night to get back to Bellingham and join his team for the bus trip to Victoria, was working on perhaps less than three hours sleep. That did not seem to phase him in the least, as he then took the fourth pitch he saw from Hannah deep over the fence in left to give the Bells a 4-0 lead.
In this sequence, HarbourCats catcher Riley Guntrip dives to tag a sliding Austin Shenton (21) of the Bells, while home plate umpire Nick More, who would call Shenton out, Bellingham’s Shane Hanon (12) and HarbourCats Head Coach Graig Merritt (background) look on (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The HarbourCats would battle back for a run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single from Jarron Silva that scored PJ Floyd (double) and then get another in the bottom of the sixth when a Riley Guntrip single plated Austin Guibor, who had singled.
Austin Guibor had a pair of hits and scored a run in the loss Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Bells would grab an insurance run on Hanon’s RBI-double to make ith 5-2 in the top of the seventh and while the HarbourCats would respond with another in the bottom of the eighth, it would not be enough as the Bell’s would shut the ‘Cats down the rest of the way to secure the win.
The win moves the Bells second half record to 6-4 and puts them a game up on the HarbourCats who drop to 5-5. It also moves their overall record to 21-16 and keeps them in second place overall in the North which could be an important factor should the HarbourCats also win the second half.
PJ Floyd had a pair of doubles and pair of walks in the game against Bellingham Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Bells and HarbourCats continue their series Thursday with game two of the set at 6:35 PM at Royal Athletic Park. The ‘Cats will send 2016 All-Star Will McAffer to the mound while the Bells will respond with Spencer Howard.