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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 6, 2008 7:09 PM

Bells game thread

Posted by Bob Condotta

GAME ENDS 11-1 --- That's where it ended. Locker finished 1-3 with a double, a walk and two strikeouts.He said afterward he had fun but was disappointed in the two strikeouts saying he thought he took good swings but wasn't seeing the ball well.

ATTENDANCE IS 2,019 --- Team officials seem pretty happy with that total, which they attribute in large part to the presence of Locker. This is also the first year of ownership for Brett Sports (yes, that Brett) so some added promotions surely helped, as well. Still, they say the allure of Locker helped quite a bit. This is technically the same franchise that was one the farm team for the Mariners (Ken Griffey Jr., began his career here in 1987) so records go back a long way and no one here seems to know where that stands. But the place was pretty full tonight.

LOCKER STRIKES OUT AGAIN --- Locker came up with two on and two out in the eighth, and after working the count to 3-2, struck out swinging on a pitch low and away. It's 11-1 in the eighth, meaning that was likely his last at-bat of the night. He is 1-3 with a double and a walk.

LOCKER STRIKES OUT --- Locker was up second in the bottom of the sixth and struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. He also had a strike called and fouled one off before swinging and missing against pitcher Jay Taylor, the starter for Everett who has gone all the way.

LOCKER MAKES ALL THREE OUTS IN SIXTH --- After not getting a fly ball in the first five innings, Locker got three his way in the sixth and caught all three. None was all that hard, though the first seemed the most difficult, a liner that he caught, then appeared to do a 360 with before throwing it in. The other two were pretty high flies that he seemed to have all the way. Locker had said before the game he felt most rusty at tracking flies. However, Everett scored three more runs and now leads 11-1.

LOCKER LITERALLY DOING IT ALL --- Bellingham finally scored a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 8-1. But the real fun came when the inning was over when the team brought Barbara Locker, Jake's grandmother, on the field to honor her birthday. Jake and Brady Locker, his cousin who is playing right field, then led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Barbara.

LOCKER OUT AT THIRD AFTER HITTING DOUBLE --- Locker led off the bottom of the fourth by hitting a rocket over the head of the CF in left-center, that went all the way to the wall (which reads 350). With the crowd giving its loudest cheer ot the night, Locker easily got to second then tried to stretch into to a triple. But he was out by a good couple feet, despite a head-first slide (he may have to get those out of his system here since he's vowed not to do that anymore on the football field). The Bells went down easily otherwise and it's still 8-0 after four innings.

LOCKER MAKES QUICK THROW TO THIRD --- Locker has yet to have a fly ball come his way. But he just displayed his strong arm with a throw to third base that beat a runner coming from first on a grounder up the middle, but that couldn't be handled by the third baseman. Locker got the ball after it squirted past the second baseman, another in a series of sloppy plays by the Bells. It's now 8-0 Everett with Locker due up first in the bottom of the fourth.

STILL 4-0 --- Locker handled a ball that the right field leaped for and couldn't get to, and another one that snuck through the infield. But he has yet to really have a play come his way. He's due up fifth in the third.

EVERETT LEADS 4-0 --- Locker fielded a single up the middle cleanly in the top of the second, an inning in which Everett scored another two runs. So far, little to cheer about here other than the introduction of Jake who received the loudest applause.

LOCKER WALKS --- Locker walked in his first at-bat, fouling off three pitches before walking on a 3-2 count. Everett leads 2-0. The inning ended quickly after Locker's walk, so we're off to the second.

TOP OF FIRST -- The game has begun, and Jake Locker is in center field. Everett has scored a run on a walk, a steal and an error --- or what the Mariners would call a big rally --- but so far Locker has seen no action. A few of Locker's UW teammates are here to support him tonight including D'Adnre Goodwin, Ryan Tolar and Cody Habben.LOCKE

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June 6, 2008 6:10 PM

Locker excited, batting second

Posted by Bob Condotta

Jake Locker just met with reporters here before taking the field with the Bellngham Bells and said he's "just excited to play'' baseball again.

"I'm just trying to have a good time and help the team win,'' he said.

He's penciled in second in the batting order and playing center field against the Everett Merchants in what is technically an exhibiton game for the Bells, who will start play in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League next week.

Locker said he finished up the last of three finals at about 1:45 p.m. and was in his car and in Bellingham by 3:30. The finals he had today were Fossils, Geography of Cities and Introduction to the New Testament. Fossils, he said, was the most difficult.

As for baseball, today was the first he has worked with the Bells, but he said he has taken some batting practice and some fly balls at UW in the last few weeks.

The hitting, he said, has come back pretty naturally --- he often practiced with wood bats while in high school --- but tracking fly balls has been a little harder. He hasn't played a game in just over two years, since he was a senior at Ferndale High.

Locker said again he will take baseball week-by-week, working it around his football responsibilities. "

"Football is still my first priority,'' he said. "Any time I have anything to do with that, I'm, going to be there for it.''

Baseball, he said, was just something he missed and he noted being able to play with some good friends --- there are three other former Ferndale High players on the roster including his cousin, Brady.

The team is missing little in making sure fans know about him --- he's on the cover of the game program wearing No. 10 (though I haven't seen any No. 10 jerseys for sale here).

His presence in this game was also teased on the front page of the Bellingham Herald here today, though it's not as if there was a lot of competition --- the second story above the fold was about a new Sonic Drive-Inn coming to Ferndale.

As I finish this up about 6:20, the crowd is filling in nicely. Joe Martin Field has an official capacity of about 2,100, and a sellout --- or close to it --- is expected. It's sunny and the field appeas to have dried off pretty well, and there are lots of people walking around in shorts --- guess I had to come to Bellingham to get a little taste of summer.

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June 6, 2008 4:40 PM

Dry and sunny in Bellingham

Posted by Bob Condotta

I'm at Joe Martin Field here in Bellingham where it is not only dry, but now sunny, and there appears little doubt now that the Bellingham Bells will get their game in tonight.

Jake Locker is already here, having finished up his last final and made the drive up. He's taking batting practice in a cage away from the field. He is scheduled to meet with media before the game, so I'll pass that along afterward.

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June 6, 2008 1:55 PM

Dry in Bellingham

Posted by Bob Condotta

I've arrived in Bellingham, where the skis are gray but the streets are dry.

So while the weather continues to look threatening, there's no rain at the moment and it looks like there's a chance that the Bellingham Bells may be able to play their game tonight,

For anybody who might be interested in attending, here are directions.

The team's web site is eagerly anticipating opening night and has some pictures of Locker in a Bells' uniform, spotlighting him as the team's "featured player.''

UPDATE --- I just drove by the field, and there's some standing water in the infield.,But there are a few guys out there working on it while some others unload boxes of pretzels (hopefully for the press box). So looks like they're planning on playing a game. There's even some blue sky to the West.

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June 6, 2008 9:18 AM

Headed to Bellingham

Posted by Bob Condotta

I'll be headed to Bellingham later today to take in the opening game of the season for the Bellingham Bells --- or better known as the summer baseball team employing Jake Locker.

Locker is expected to finish up final exams early this afternoon, then head there in time for warmups and first pitch at 7 p.m. --- hope he doesn't run into me on I-5 (though you guys are probably hoping the other way around).

Locker is scheduled to be thrown right into the fray, playing center field tonight against the Everett Merchants.

Here's a good preview of the Bells from the Bellingham Herald.

As the story notes, the Bells are part of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.

You may not have heard much about that league until now, but you might begin to hear a lot more about it, even once Locker leaves. The league has a new president, former Mariners announcer Ken Wilson, and has stated goals of being very aggressive in attempting to create something that could rival the Cape Cod League and other more-established summer leagues throughout the country.

I talked to Wilson earlier this week and he says he thinks there is enough talent in the Northwest to do just that if the players have a reason to stay home rather than heading to Cape Cod or Alaska. There are eight official teams in the league this year with plans to expand. The leagues are popular with pro scouts because the players use wood bats, simulating conditions of professional leagues.

Wilson admits that the addition of Locker is a big boost to the league at a time it's trying to get off the ground, attracting the kind of publicity it would have trouble getting otherwise.

Locker is expected to play in most weekend home games for the Bells and maybe make a few of the closer road trips. One Bells official told me this week he thinks Locker could play in as many as 30 of the team's 51 games.

Locker has said only that he will look at the schedule every two weeks and decide which games he can play and which he can't, based around his football schedule at UW.

He has said all along he won't do any baseball stuff that gets in the way of football and that football remains his passion --- baseball is just something fun to do during the summer. Still, there is no doubt he could have a big-time future in baseball if he so wanted.

Baseball scout Eddie Bane told ESPN's Bruce Feldman last year that Locker "is more advanced as a baseball player, believe it or not'' and that "he could be Scott Rolen in baseball, or a closer if he pitched.''

Locker was a 40th round choice of the Angels in 2006 draft after telling teams he intended to play football in college --- speculation is he would have gone in the first two rounds otherwise.

So while Locker maintains his future is in football --- and there is no reason to doubt him --- scouts will be paying attention tonight, and the rest of the summer, just in case.

I'll be there tonight, as well, assuming Locker doesn't run me off the road in his haste to get there --- and that the game is played (the weather report isn't good) --- and will check in with regular reports here on the blog.

UPDATE 11:10 A.M. --- Official word is that despite the weather, the game is still on and that it will probably be a game-time decision as to whether it is played.

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