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Indians’ fourth straight loss creates logjam at top

The Northwest League's North Division second-half title is up for grabs after the Spokane Indians dropped their fourth consecutive game to the Hillsboro Hops on Tuesday night. The 4-1, 11-inning defeat left Spokane, Everett and Vancouver tied for first place at 12-14, with Tri-City one game back. T-C starts a three-game series at Avista Stadium on Wednesday night. Spokane had control of its destiny after six consecutive wins gave the Indians a two-game lead on Friday, but now anything could happen with 12 games left in the regular season. Read story

Tuesday's loss ended Spokane's regular-season schedule against South Division team. The Indians finished dead-even against the South at 20-20. Spokane was 3-7 against Hillsboro, 6-4 against Boise, 4-6 against Salem-Keizer and 7-3 against Eugene.

Spokane's final 12 games are all against teams from the North. The Indians will play six games against Everett, and three apiece against Tri-City and Vancouver.

Spokane starter John Niggli and Hillsboro starter Kyle Schepel had quite a head-to-head battle for seven innings. Schepel, making his second start in the Northwest League, allowed eight hits, five more than Niggli, but struck out eight and walked just one. Niggli, making his third start in the league, struck out four and walked one.

Spokane played errorless ball.

“We didn’t have a lot of mistakes, but to win games you have to score more than one run,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said.

Hulett also said that he didn't think Indians catcher Joe Jackson got crossed up by Niggli on the fourth-inning passed ball that scored the Hops' lone run in regulation.

Spokane infielder Barrett Serrato had his seven-game hitting streak snapped, but he drove in Spokane's lone run with a second-inning lined sacrifice fly to left field. The SF scored Janluis Castro, who opened the inning with a triple to right-center that tied up center fielder Taylor Ratliff and right fielder Brian Billigen. Serrato was 9 for 24 during the streak.

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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jacob Thorpe Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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