Indians enjoy near-perfect evening, tighten race

Friday was about as good as it gets for the Spokane Indians. They improved their postseason chances with a 7-2 win over Everett while Vancouver was losing to Tri-City. They set a club attendance record, boosted by a Avista Stadium sold-out crowd of 6,840. They won the award for field of the year for the 15th time in 17 seasons. They almost assuredly produced the Northwest League's earned-run average champion in Kelvin Vasquez, who baffled Everett for six innings. Then they set off fireworks for delighted fans on a warm evening, wondering if they'll be back home Tuesday for the NWL divisional playoffs. Read story

All right, ONE thing didn't go right for the Indians, but luckily it didn't matter.

Gabe Roa and Ryan Cordell started the bottom of the third inning with back-to-back singles. With the Indians holding a 1-0 lead, manager Tim Hulett called upon Evan Van Hoosier to bunt the runners along. Van Hoosier's good bunt, a bit toward the third-base line, was fielded by Everett starter Tommy Burns. Burns' throw to first base was a bit off the mark and bounded down the right-field line as Van Hoosier and Everett first baseman Reggie Lawson collided. Roa appeared to have scored for a 2-0 lead, but home-plate umpire Ben Lebin overruled first-base umpire Christopher Lloyd's call, saying that Van Hoosier interfered with Lawson on the throw. Lebin called Van Hoosier out and made both runners return to their original bases. Lawson, who briefly went to the ground in pain, was replaced by Kyle Petty.

Spokane got a run later in the inning on Joe Jackson's RBI groundout, but the inning could have been much bigger.

"(Van Hoosier) is supposed to run in the running zone, but that rule is really designed for a bunt down the first-base line, so there’s not interference," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "If the bunt goes down the third-base line, there’s no interference there, because (Lawson) doesn’t have to interfere with the runner. There’s no throw over the runner, there’s no interference there, so I’m not sure (Lebin) got that one right. We came back and won anyhow, so that’s good."

Indians starter Kelvin Vasquez made his 13th start. He's had many no-decisions and was 0-2 until defeating Eugene on Aug. 12.

Start after start, however, Vasquez struck out a lot of batters and allowed few earned runs.

"I would feel unbelievable (winning the ERA crown), but I would  feel even better if we could go to the playoffs also," Vasquez said through interpreter Oscar Marin, the Indians' pitching coach.

Vasquez, Keone Kela and Luis Pollorena combined to strike out 13, giving the Indians a league-best 650 strikeouts. Spokane is No. 2 in league ERA (3.28) while Everett is eighth and last (4.04).

David Ledbetter (3-3, 2.98) will start for Spokane tonight.

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




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