Chris Baker got his first hit of the game in the 11th inning to send the Bellingham Bells (29-10) home winners over the Cowlitz Black Bears (17-23) 3-2 in 11 innings from Joe Martin Field on Friday night.
Bears starter Shane Bieber retired 20 straight Bells after allowing a lead off single in the first inning and did not allow another baserunner to the Bells until Danny Miller singled over his head with two outs in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, Bellingham starter Michael Rucker matched him with five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits before handing the ball to the Bellingham bullpen.
Taylor Bryant led off the eighth for the Black Bears with a single, moved up to second with a stolen base and then to third on a base hit by Austin Baker. After a pitch in the dirt, Bells catcher Eric Webber attempted to throw behind the runner at third base but sailed the ball into left field allowing Bryant to score easily to give the Black Bears the late 1-0 lead.
Bieber began the eighth inning by striking out Chris Baker for his tenth strikeout of the game, before three straight batters reached for the Bells on a single and two errors.
Henry Omana took over with the score tied at 1-1 and runners on the corners with one out. A bunt single by Dustin Breshears plated the go ahead run for Bellingham as the took a 2-1 lead into the ninth.
Both runs charged to Bieber were unearned. With the performance, the UC Santa Barbara right hander lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.43.
Scott Heath moved from first base to the mound to take over in the ninth inning looking for the save, and promptly hit Brennan Salgado to lead off the inning. Salgado moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Kyle Hunt. Nick Funyak grounded out, with Salgado remaining on second.
With the Black Bears down to their final out, Kort Peterson drove home Salgado with a single into center field to tie the game at 2-2.
Omana stranded runners on first and second to send the game to extra innings, where both teams put up zeroes entering the bottom of the 11th inning.
Omana gave up a single and a walk before passing the baton to All-Star Joe Reta. The junior heading to Oregon uncorked his first pitch to the backstop to allow both base runners to advance putting the game winner just 90 feet away with Bells shortstop Chris Baker at the plater.
With the infield drawn in, Baker looped a ball well over the head of Black Bears third baseman Caleb Hamilton for the game winner.
Reza Aleaziz (1-3, 5.60 ERA) will make the start for the Black Bears in game two of the series opposite Zach Johnson (2-1, 1.50 ERA) and the Bells with first pitch scheduled at 7:05 on Saturday night. Tune in to Shane Downey for all the action beginning with the Black Bears pregame show at 6:50 on KEDO AM 1400 and streaming live from cowlitzblackbears.com.