By the time the Wenatchee AppleSox hitters figured out Andrew Olson, it was too late to really matter.
The Bells’ crafty left-hander foiled the AppleSox for eight-plus innings at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium on Saturday night in a 3-2 win for Bellingham.
Wenatchee’s loss sets the stage for a pivotal final game of the four-game set on Sunday night.
With the Sox’ magic number to clinch the West Coast League’s East Division over the second-place Bells still at three games, Wenatchee could take much of the uncertainty out of their midweek series with last-place Kitsap by cutting that number down to one.
Olson scattered eight hits over 8 1/3 innings of work against the Sox, and like they have all series, the Bells made a few outstanding defensive plays behind him in key spots.
Ryan Howell finally put the Sox on the board with a two-run homer off Olson with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but relievers Mark Lambson and Jacob Coats got an out apiece to end the game.
Wenatchee’s Beau Kerns (4-2) took the loss after allowing 10 hits but only two runs — one earned — in six innings.
But it was Bellingham’s eighth-inning run off reliever K.J. Edson that proved to be the difference.
Grant Fink tripled to lead off the frame and scored on a passed ball to give the Bells a 3-0 lead and some cushion before Howell’s blast.
Wenatchee was fortunate to only allow the three runs after Bellingham put together 16 hits off Kerns, Edson and Bryce Jackson.
Trevor Lubking will start for the Sox on Sunday night in a 6:05 game. The Bells haven’t decided on a starter.