Photo by: Allen Douglas

KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops NorthPaws are back to .500 after taking two of three from the visiting Bellingham Bells.

Game 1 –

The Kamloops NorthPaws took full advantage of the free pass on Tuesday, en-route to a 3-2 series opening win over the Bellingham Bells.

Kamloops got the offense going early, with third baseman Jaden Bitter lining the first pitch of the 1st inning down the third base line for a double. Two batters later, Matthew Olivares would trade places with Bitter with a double of his own to open the scoring.

Derek Murphy got the start on the bump for Kamloops, working three innings of one-hit ball, allowing 1 run. He was replaced by Joey Rico, who would earn the win in relief thanks to 3 innings of 2 hits and 0 runs. Cade Johnson would pitch two innings to earn a hold, and Lucas Smith shut the door in the ninth to earn the save.

The Bells got their first run in unusual fashion, driving one across in the third inning without the benefit of a base hit. Trent Mallonee would score after reaching first on a dropped third strike, followed by a walk, and a fielder’s choice.

Kamloops would take the lead for good in the sixth when Matt Molina walked a trio of batters allowing two to score courtesy of wild pitch and an RBI groundout from Jacob Schlesselman.

Bellingham would make things interesting by closing to within 1 in the 8th. With runners on first and second and one-out, a ball would eat up Anthony Manuel at first allowing the run to score from second. However Kamloops would escape the inning on the same play after getting the back runner caught in a rundown between home and third. Paws catcher Jerry Nix would run him back to third where a gaff from the Bells allowed Nix to tag out both runners.

Game 2 –

The NorthPaws used a stellar start from a TRU WolfPack pitcher, timely offense from the cleanup spot, and a triple play on defense to win the second game of the series 7-1.

Kolby Luckinchuk got his second start of the season and pitched 6 strong innings giving up 1 earned run on 7 hits as he worked himself out of danger in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th innings.

The Bells would strike first in the contest with Jason Shedlock lining an RBI single bringing home Nate Kirkpatrick in the second.

The Paws would get on the scoreboard in the 3rd, with Jacob Schlesselman getting the party started with a one-out single. That would be followed by singles from Ethan VanDelinder and Jaden Bitter to load the bases. Shortstop Madden Ocko would be plunked to bring in the tying run and then Joey Rico, the winning pitcher from Tuesday, ripped a bases clearing double into right field for 3RBI and a lead the Paws would never give up.

Chaos was the theme of the seventh inning. The Bells would load the bases with nobody out thanks to two walks and a hit batter. That brought Chase Taylor into the ballgame in relief of Joey Stover. Facing Jacob Mejia, Taylor got a shallow fly-out to left, as the ball came home to keep the runner stationed at third, Jorge Olivera was caught between first and second. Olivera would be tagged out between the bases by Manuel who fired home to catch Robbins attempting to score for a triple play. The play was scored F9-2-3-2.

The Paws would add on a trio of insurance runs in the eight to make it 7-1. Casper Rammeloo would record the final three outs and secure a series victory for Kamloops.

Game 3 – 
The Bellingham Bells would finally strike back during the final game of the series, taking the school spirit day game 11-1.
Ryan Beitel was in cruise control on the mound for the Bells, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when Jacob Schlesselman singled to break up the bid for history. Schlesselman was singled home by Nolan Austin for Kamloops’ lone run of the ballgame.
Josh Berenbaum got the start for the ‘Paws and ran into some bad luck giving up 5 runs, only 2 earned through 4.2 innings of work.
Nate Kirkpatrick led the offense for the Bells going 3-5 at the dish, with 4 RBI.
Pitching and defense lead the way for Kamloops
The Kamloops NorthPaws found their fitting in their first cross-border battle of the season against the Bellingham Bells.
Playing a starring role in the series win was newcomer Joey Rico, who earned the win in game 1 before going 2-4 at the dish with 4 RBI in game 2. Rico stepped into the lineup for Kamloops on Tuesday after just arriving to the team.
“I just went out there and tried to do what I normally do, try to command my stuff and just let it work, not try to do too much,” said Rico. “(Being fresh to the team) makes it easier, you’re not so caught up in a gameplan or some idea of what your suppose to do, you just go out there and play. Two-way (player) in college for sure, just trying to do both because i enjoy doing both and want to keep doing it as long as I can. It was pretty awesome to show up for the team and the fans.”
Game two was started by TRU WolfPack product Kobly Luckinchuk who threw six innings, giving up one run.
“I was a lot off-speed, I was spinning the ball really well, come back with a fastball occasionally and it plays a lot better. But just filling up the zone, trusting the team behind you,” said Luckinchuk. “These two teams Victoria and Bellingham are not an easy ride so to come out 500 after playing these two teams, it’s really exciting, we are really happy about it.”
“Coming together quickly (as a team), just real relaxed, chill guys, it has been awesome to be around a good group of young guys,” added Rico.
As the team comes together in the clubhouse, Head Coach Jose Bautista is still working through getting a few more bodies to Kamloops ahead of the first road trip of the season next week to Cowlitz.
“We win the series that is the most important thing to do,” said Bautista. “Couple more players coming in pretty soon. We just started, looking to get more wins and get closer games. I’m pretty happy with what I’m seeing.”
Upcoming Schedule –
Friday, June 7 – Off-day
Saturday, June 8 vs Coquitlam, 6:35 first pitch (non-league)
Sunday, June 9 vs Coquitlam. 2:35 first pitch (non-league)
Monday, June 10 – Off-day
Tuesday, June 11 @ Cowlitz  6:35 first pitch
Wednesday, June 12 @ Cowlitz  6:35 first pitch
Thursday, June 13 @ Cowlitz 6:35 first pitch
For media request:
Jenna Forter
General Manager
Kamloops NorthPaws