PORT ANGELES — The eighth inning was kind to the Lefties this weekend.
After an eighth-inning home run handed the Lefties a 3-1 victory in their early game Saturday — a continuation of a game suspended Friday night due to rain — the Lefties came back in the nightcap to win 7-5 thanks to a five-run eighth inning that blew open a tie game.
The Lefties have won five straight. The Saturday sweep left the Lefties all alone in first place in the West Coast League’s North Division at 6-2.
The Lefties are winning with offense — 34 runs in a three-game sweep over Bend — and with pitching — giving up just six hits in a 3-1 pitchers’ duel in the Friday/Saturday suspended game win over the Bells.
What’s been the secret? Manager Darren Westergard and players agree that everyone is relaxed.
“They relaxed, there’s no pressure, they’re having fun,” Westergard said. “No one is going to be buried. If you struggle, you go right back out there.”
“This is awesome, really, it’s pretty laid back,” said third baseman Kyle Schimpf. “No one here is uptight. They make us play the game right, but they also let us have fun.”
Schimpf, who is from Louisiana and plays for the University of Louisiana-Monroe, said he’s used to heat and humidity so he’s still trying to adjust to the colder weather on the Olympic Peninsula.
Saturday night game
Dalton Harum and Matthew Christian each hit doubles in the eighth while Cameron Allie and Trevor Rosenberg added singles. The big blow in the inning was a two-run single by Ronnie Rust.
Down 7-2, the Bells rallied with three runs in the top of the ninth inning as the Lefties defense got shaky, making two errors and allowing a run to score on a passed ball. But, with two runners on base and only one out, reliever Tyler Tan got the Bells’ Guthrie Morrision to pop out and Cody Plasic to ground out to earn the win.
Rust only had the one hit, but he ended up with four RBIs as he drove in a run in the second and a run in the sixth with two bases-loaded walks.
Allie finished 2 for 4 a run scored, while David Bedgood was 2 for 3 and Rosenberg 2 for 5. Harum had a run scored and two walks to go along with his double.
On the mound, Baxter Halligan went seven innings with six hits, two earned runs and no walks while striking out five. Tan went two innings and gave up three hits with a strikeout. None of his three runs were earned.
Before the full game was played, the Lefties and Bells finished up Friday’s game that was suspended in heavy rain with the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Schimpf broke the tie open in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run home run.
“It felt good off the bat,” Schimpf said about his home run. “I was struggling yesterday [o for 3 before the home run], it felt great.”
The Lefties got great pitching in this win. Westberg went the first four innings, giving up four hits and one earned run, while striking out three and walking three. Busse was even more impressive, going five innings with two hits and one walk, while striking out six. Busse picked up the much-deserved win.
Westberg and Busse stacked up pitch-for-pitch against Bellingham’s Justin Armbruester, who went six innings, giving up two hits and one earned run, while striking out 10. He was replaced by Trevor Delaite, who threw two balls to Harum before the game was suspended because the mound was too wet. Trevor Williams pitched the final two innings for Bellingham and took the loss.
Lefties manager Darren Westergard said Westberg drove to Port Angeles by himself Friday before taking the starting mound and had an outstanding performance considering how little preparation he had. Westergard said Busse has been great so far in the early going for the Lefties.
“He’s tough to hit. He’s been reliable,” Westergard said.
The Lefties were scheduled to play Sunday afternoon against Bellingham. Results of that game were not known before press deadline. The Lefties play at 6:05 p.m. today against the Cowlitz Black Bears at Civic Field.
Lefties 7, Bells 5
Bells 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 — 5 9 0
Lefties 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 5 0 — 7 10 3
WP: Tan LP: Och
Bells — Wiltfang 6IP, 5H, 2ER, 4BB, 4K; Kemble 1IP, 2H, 3ER, 2K; Och 0.1IP, 2H, 2ER, BB; Cuenca 0.2IP, H, 0ER, BB, 2K.
Lefties — Halligan 7IP, 6H, 2ER, 5K; Tan 2IP, 3H, 0ER, K.
Bells — James 3-4, R; Stroup 2-4, R, 2RBI, SB; Machtolf 0-4, 2R, SB; Yake 1-4, R; Joy 101, RBI.
Lefties — Rust 1-2, R, 4RBI, 2BB; Bedgood 2-3; Allie 2-4, R, SB; Schimpf 1-3, 2R, BB; Rosenberg 2-5; Harum 1-3, R, 2B, 2BB.; Christian 1-4, 2B, RBI.
Lefties 3, Bells 1
Bells 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 6 0
Lefties 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 3 6 1
WP: Busse LP: Williams
Bells — Armbruester 6IP, 2H, ER, BB, 10K; Delaite 0IP; Williams 2IP, 4H, 2ER, BB, 2K.
Lefties — Westberg 4IP, 4H, ER, 3BB, 3K; Busse 5IP, 2H, BB, 6K.
Bells — Yake 1-4, RBI, SB; McCormick 1-2, R, BB; Carlson 1-1, SB; Morrison 1-3.
Lefties — Schimpf 1-4, HR, R, 2RBI; Rosenberg 1-4, RBI; Alle 1-2, R; Heid 1-2, R, BB, SB; Harum 1-4, SB.