Ems’ second baseman Vince Belnome, who went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in, got things started in the bottom of the first inning as he took Bears’ starting pitcher Brad Wilson deep to left with a two-run homerun that scored centerfielder Jason Codiroli, who was hit by Wilson to lead off the inning.
“He [Wilson] was trying to stay away with me,” said Belnome, who was able to get the count to 3-1 before his home run after taking a fastball for a ball, fouling off another fastball, and taking two more changeups for balls. “3-1 count, I’m just sitting on one of the pitches out over the plate and I hit it good.”
As impressive as the Ems were at the plate, so to was their defense. Jerry Sullivan (4-2), who got the start for the Ems, tossed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and recording three strikeouts.
“That’s the approach here; three pitches or less, try to get them to put the ball in game, pitch to contact and trust your defense and let them make plays,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the quick start and offensive output made a big difference.
“He [Vincent Belnome] is such threat to all parts of the field. It’s great when Vinny’s on,” Sullivan said. “It puts a dagger in their heart when we put up a two-spot in the first.”
Sullivan was replaced in the top of the seventh by former starter Nick Greenwood, who was recently reassigned to the bullpen to help the Ems close out games in the middle to late innings. With a comfortable lead, Greenwood did just that. He pitched the final three innings, allowing one run, two hits and giving up one walk, while striking out one batter.
Throughout the game, the Ems, who came in to Monday night’s matchup hitting an impressive .281 in the previous 10 games, showed tremendous patience at the plate. As a whole, Bears’ pitchers combined to walk six Ems’ batters, but when they left the ball over the plate with hitters’ counts, the Ems jumped on the pitches, which allowed them to score 11 runs on nine hits.
“That [being patient] is a big part of our offense,” Belnome said. “We’ve got to try and be patient and take our walks when we get them, not swinging at bad pitches. In our counts, we’ve got to get our pitches to hit and knock guys in.”
“A lot of this summer is about learning how to walk, just as much as learning how to hit,” said Ems’ first baseman Nate Freiman, who had a monstrous night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two walks, two singles, one double and two runs batted in, while showing some newfound patience.
“This whole summer is about getting better,” Freiman said. “My biggest thing to work on was patience and pitch selection and I’m working hard to improve on that.”
Although the offensive performance may have overshadowed Sullivan’s performance on the mound, Freiman was quick to praise the Ems’ pitching.
“The good thing was our starting pitcher Jerry came out and threw six scoreless [innings], so whenever you can get through the sixth inning when the other team hasn’t even scored, it just gives you an unbelievable amount of momentum,” Freiman said. “We swung the bats tonight and we had great pitching, we gave up one run, so you’re going to win a lot of games when you give up one run.”
With Sunday night’s 7-6 win over the Ems, the Yakima Bears have claimed the 2009 season series, which they lead 6-3 with one game remaining. This is the first season that the Bears have won the season series against the Ems since 2004.