The B'Ham Bells land at RAP for three games this week starting Monday night. Currently sporting a respectable 5-3 record, they were most recently rained out of Sunday's game in Kitsap after splitting the first two games of that series. Our home-town Cats from V'ria sit at 5-4, having lost one more game after going 2-1 on their trip to Bend OR.
Victoria is scheduled to send Logan Lombana to the mound against Bells Freshman Grant Goodman. Goodman had a decent first start of the season, picking up a win while giving up three earned runs on two hits and five walks over 4 innings. Lucky for him, the Bells picked him up with 5 runs in the top of the fourth to get him the win. Lombana on the other hand, was lights-out in his first start - a no decision in the 'Cats 6-5 11 inning marathon home opener last week. Lombana pitched 5 strong innings, scattering 4 hits and 2 walks while giving up only two unearned runs.
Tuesday's scheduled starters are Seth Martinez (1-0, 3.00 ERA) for Bellingham up against Andrew Nelson (0-1, 9.81 ERA), while Wednesday should see Enir Erives (0-0, 12.00 ERA) take on the 'Cats Mikey Wright (2-0, 2.25 ERA). Look for Nelson to bounce back from his unimpressive first start, and for Wright to show his early season dominance is for real. Weather is expected to be on the chilly side, so that should help keep balls in the park - which plays into Wrights hand - as reader Eric pointed out after his last start, he gets a ton of fly ball outs)...
At the plate, the Bells are led by the best hitting outfield in the WCL - Danny Miller, Walker Olis, and Aaron Stroosma. The three have accumulated 32 hits and 17 RBI between them so far this season. As a collective group, the Bells have 8 regulars hitting over .300 at this early point the season and are dominating most of the leagues offensive categories. By contrast, Victoria has four starters hitting over .300, led by Nathan Lukes, Danny Collier, Cole Kreuter, and Hunter Mercado-Hood.
In a team vs. team compare, it's impossible to use last year's head-to-head results to draw any kind of conclusion on what to expect in this series - as the key players have (mostly) all changed. On paper, it's a classic offense vs. pitching match-up for the most part. Baseball purists always favour the pitching side of that equation, and given the disparity in mound-talent, I will this time as well. I think the Bells are too good a team to drop all three though, so I'll give Victoria a slight 2-1 edge in this one.
Now most importantly, which Bin4 burger will end at the top of my list tonight...
- Devin Carter has arrived in town, fresh from his trip to the Super Regionals with the Pepperdine Wave. Look for him to perhaps get some time in the outfield this series.
- That leaves C Aaron Barnett and 1B Gabe Clark as the only two missing 'Cats. Both have returned to school to complete some year-end activities, and are still scheduled to arrive. Both of them will add substantially to Victoria's offensive prowess once they arrive.