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Indians’ bats wake up in late innings

If you left Thursday night's Northwest League game between the Spokane Indians and visiting Eugene Emeralds in the fifth inning (perhaps you're afraid of postgame fireworks), you got the wrong idea of how the evening would unfold. Through five innings, Eugene led Spokane 3-0 and had outhit the Indians 8-2. The rest of the way, Spokane outscored  the Emeralds 10-0 with an 8-1 advantage in hits. The big inning was the seventh, when Spokane sent 12 runners to the plate and scored six runs for an 8-3 lead. The outcome of the first game of the five-game series evened Spokane's home record at 6-6 and put the Indians (11-10) above .500 for the first time this season. Spokane has won five consecutive games for the first time in two years and improved its record against South Division teams to 5-1. Spokane has scored in double figures in three of the five games during the streak. Read story

At the risk of getting completely confused, here's how the six-run seventh inning broke down:

Michael Kelly entered as the third Emeralds pitcher, with a 3-2 lead. He immediately loaded the bases as Kevin Torres singled, Marcus Greene walked and Saquan Johnson put down a bunt between home plate and the pitcher's mound. Kelly looked toward third base and mishandled the bunt, allowing Johnson to reach first. Chris Garia grounded to third baseman Michael Bass, who threw home for a forceout on Torres. Alberto Triunfel walked on a 3-2 pitch to score Greene and tie the game at 3. Ryan Cordell walked on a 3-1 pitch to score Johnson for a 4-3 lead that put Spokane ahead for good. Josh Richardson relieved Kelly. Barrett Serrato made the second out with a sacrifice fly that scored Garia for a 5-3 lead. Cordell got caught between first and second base on the throw to the infield. Eugene turned its attention away from Cordell and tried to get Triunfel at home. The throw was wide and Spokane led 6-3. Bass kept the inning alive with a fielding error on Cam Schiller's grounder. Janluis Castro singled home Cordell for a 7-3 lead. Torres, up for the second time in the inning, singled in Schiller for an 8-3 edge. Greene walked for the second time in the inning to load the bases, bringing on reliever Jairo Gomez, who got Johnson on a popup to first baseman Trae Santos.

Got that?

For good measure, Serrato added a two-run double to center in the eighth.

"It's crazy, man," Torres said. "Losing 3-0, the guys come together like (that). You see guys mad in the dugout (and) think that the game's over. We put two, then six, then two again (on the board) and we got a chance to win this game."

"We didn’t get much early in the game," Indians manager Tim Hulett said. "It was one of those days where I think the shadows really affected us, and their guy (starter Erik Cabrera) had some pretty good stuff with some late movement. We didn’t get many hits, but as soon as it was getting dark you could see our swings were getting better."

Indians relievers Abel De Los Santos, Sam Wolff and Josh McElwee combined to allow two hits and no earned runs for five innings, striking out six and walking one.

"I really feel like I’ve fallen into a spot where it’s comfortable for me to come in," said Wolff,  who won to improve to 2-0 and hasn't allowed an earned run this season. "I know I need to do the job, throw strikes and let the defense work behind me. To keep us in the ballgame when it is close. I try to be that good setup guy for McIlwee for the end of the game."

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Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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