Bell (1-0) allowed a run on three hits and struck out five to pace Cedar Rapids, which is the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Angels.
The 20-year-old right-hander, who went 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA over his last five regular-season starts, recorded 11 straight outs after allowing a first-inning double. He then retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced.
“First-pitch strikes and early-in-the-count outs are always huge,” Bell told minorleaguebaseball.com. “There’s even more importance on those things in a short series. My fastball was a little up in the zone tonight, but it felt like it had some extra velocity on it. And with good command and bite on my changeup, I was able to get some quick outs and pitch to my defense.
“I think the early runs helped me get into a good groove. It takes a little pressure off and reminds me not to be too perfect. I definitely relaxed a bit more.”
Bell, a former All-Pacific League Most Valuable Player, helped Cedar Rapids win the second-half Midwestern Division championship. He struck out 90 and allowed 136 hits in 115 1/3 innings during the regular season.
The second game of the series was scheduled for Thursday night. Should a third game be played, it would be held at 5 p.m. PST today.
Bill Spottiswood (Glendale Community College, 2005): relief pitcher, Yakima Bears: The former Vaqueros star continues to make an impact for the Bears, an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate who are members of the Class A Short-Season Northwest League.
Spottiswood, a former All-Western State Conference selection, pitched a scoreless ninth inning Wednesday night to earn the save in Yakima’s 6-3 road victory against the Spokane Indians. He allowed one hit.
Spottiswood, a right-hander, is 2-3 with a 2.49 ERA. He’s struck out 45 in 43 1/3 innings this season and has notched seven saves since Aug. 1.
The Bears are in last place in the league’s Eastern Division, but are only four games out of first place.