With the ink barely dry on the West Coast League All-Star rosters, pitcher Billy Sahlinger showed why he was selected to the South roster, leading the Black Bears to a 4-0 win over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. Sahlinger had a no-hitter until two outs in the eighth inning, ending the night with eight innings pitched, one hit and no runs, striking out five. JJ Franklin pitched a perfect ninth to cement the win.
The Bears scored the only run they would need in the second inning. After a Casey Worden, double Caleb Hamilton singled to right to score Worden and give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.
Cowlitz added another run in the fourth, when Derek Rustich singled to center field to drive in Chris Iriart, and added two more in the ninth. Seaver Whalen’s double in the right center field gap scored Rustich for the 3-0 lead, and Austin Baker then singled to right field to drive home Whalen for the 4-0 final score.
Kyle Hunt contributed three hits, including a double, to the Black Bears' cause, and Rustich and Baker added two each.
But this night belonged to Sahlinger, whose performance gave the Black Bears their first road series win since an early season trip to Kelowna, and took the season series from Kitsap in the team's ninth meeting. The defense played well behind him, commiting no errors, and coming up with several outstanding plays to extend the no-hit bid, including a pair by Daniel Orr in left field and one by Hunt at second base. The Black Bears are 6-0 in games that Sahlinger has started, and his 2.03 ERA is third in the West Coast League.
The Black Bears return to Story Field Thursday night for the first of a three game series against the Bend Elks, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35. The game feature Elks All-Star Jake Peevyhouse (2-1) against Black Bears All-Star Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.75 ERA). Thursday is Twin Star Credit Union night, where there will be lots of giveaways throughout the night! It is also ThirstyThursday where fans 21 and older can enjoy $2 beers.