Cloverdale pitcher Wesley Moore is playing this summer for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League. (Contributed photo)

Surrey pitcher aims to take game to next level with Bellingham Bells

Cloverdale’s Wesley Moore is suiting up in the West Coast League, a collegiate summer circuit

For many college students, the end of the school year means it’s time to kick back and relax – maybe head to the beach.

Wesley Moore, however, has a much different summer planned.

Rather than put his feet up and wait for the fall, the Cloverdale pitcher, who just completed his freshman season with the NCAA’s Cal State University-Northridge Matadors, is continuing to ply his trade state-side, with the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.

The WCL is a collegiate summer league with a 54-game schedule, with teams in Victoria, Kelowna, and throughout the Pacific Northwest. The majority of players in the circuit are American, though a few Canadians dot the rosters, as well.

Moore, a left-handed pitcher, is one of two Canadians on the Bells – Kristjan Storrie, a Langley native who plays for Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas is the other, and will join the team later this summer. Another local resident, White Rock’s Claire Eccles, is in her second season with the Victoria HarbourCats, and last summer became the first woman to play in the league.

The Bells have another local connection, too – the team is owned by White Rock’s Glenn Kirkpatrick.

• RELATED: Claire Eccles returns to baseball – with bobblehead

Moore – who played his high school baseball with the Vauxhall Academy in Alberta – said it’s been a dream of his to play for the Bells, which are as close to a hometown team he is likely ever to find.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Moore said last week. “I grew up watching the Bells when I was younger, so it’s pretty surreal pitching for them now after my freshman year (of college).”

Through the years, the West Coast League has seen a number of future Major League Baseball players suit up for its squads, including Ladner’s James Paxton, who played for the Kelowna Falcons in 2007 and is now the ace of the Seattle Mariners’ staff.

Moore already has experience playing competitive ball against future pros, having suited up with the Canadian national team at the U18 World Baseball-Softball Confederation World Cup, where he made three appearances and finished with a 1-1 win-loss record with a 4.76 earned-run average.

“It was a crazy experience,” Moore said of the World Cup. “Greg Hamilton, the head coach, gave us the opportunity to play against a lot of minor league players and even some big-league guys in spring training.”

Moore’s first start with the Bells – which was scheduled for a road game against Kelowna – was postponed due to rain, but the wait for his first WCL start was worth it. On June 5, he pitched four no-hit, no-run innings against the Walla Walla Sweet, striking out nine batters.

“I like to be aggressive. As a pitcher, I think that’s a huge thing for success – attacking hitters,” he said, adding that he didn’t feel any extra nerves because he was making the start in front of family and friends, many of whom who made the short drive south to the Bells’ home park, Joe Martin Field.

“On game days, I’m pretty much the same as on other days. Maybe a little bit more focused, maybe a little bit calmer.”

He pitched only four innings due to a pitch count – he’s slowly working himself back into being a starting pitcher, after spending his freshman season at Cal State-Northridge as both a reliever and a starter.

As a starter at Northridge, Moore went 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his first four starters, before a pair of rough outings bumped him to the bullpen for the remainder of the season, where he made 12 relief appearances. In total, he pitched 36 innings, striking out 39.

“I think they want me to start next year at Northridge, and I think it will be a pretty big key, just really feeling that starter’s role and working on becoming a better pitcher and starter.”

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