A dominant pitching performance by Reza Aleaziz and an opportunistic offense gave the Cowlitz Black Bears (18-23) a 3-0 shutout over the Bellingham Bells (29-11) on Saturday night from Joe Martin Field, evening up the weekend series.
With all-star Zach Johnson on the mound for the Bells, the game remained scoreless entering the fourth inning. Austin Baker led things off with a double off the right field wall, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a base hit by Joey Greco.
Johnson, who had already picked off two Black Bears in the game, appeared to have his third when he caught Greco off the bag at first. Greco, however, never stopped running to second and beat the tag to steal the base. He would later steal third, and an RBI single by Chris Iriart followed to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
With two outs in the sixth inning, Jonathan Serven launched a ball deep over the Left field wall for his first home run of the season, adding to the Cowlitz lead.
Meanwhile, Aleaziz continued to put up zeroes. The Oregon State sophomore to be allowed just two hits before exiting with an out in the eighth inning due to minor leg cramp with the Black Bears leading 3-0. Aleaziz was dominant throughout, recording four of his last five ours via strikeout.
Zebastian Valenzuela made his first relief appearance for the Bears, striking out a pair to get through the eighth before handing the ball to J.J. Franklin.
Franklin collected his second save of the season by striking out Garrett Harpole with runners on second and third to complete the shutout, the Black Bears third of the season.
The rubber match will be Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 3:05. Kohl Hostert (1-2, 4.90 ERA) will be making his first start of the season opposite Aaron Sandefur (4-2, 2.20) and the Bellingham Bells. Tune in for all the action beginning at 2:50 on KEDO AM 1400 and streaming live from cowlitzblackbears.com.