The Spokane Indians were one strike away from heading to the 12th inning on Wednesday when Barrett Serrato ended the long night. Serrato's second home run of the season, on a 2-2 count with two out in the 11th inning, also scored Janluis Castro and gave the Indians a 6-4 win over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes to open a five-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium. Spokane led 4-1 after two innings and the Volcanoes tied the game with a three-run fifth. The Volcanoes had three hits the Indians five after the fifth. Read story
Volcanoes starter Andrew Leenhouts entered the game with a 6-1 record and the fifth-best earned-run average (2.16) in the Northwest League. He defeated Spokane on July 11 with five innings of three-hit ball.
This time, Leenhouts exited after four innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs, all on Janluis Castro's three-run homer on a lined shot to right field. The Indians had two out and nobody aboard in the first when Kevin Torres and Marcus Greene kept the inning alive with singles.
Castro's homer gave the Indians a 3-1 lead. The Volcanoes scored in their first on doubles by leadoff hitter Tyler Hollick and No. 3 hitter Brian Ragira. Indians right fielder Jamie Jarmon got a bad jump on Ragira's RBI double, which went over his head.
Spokane made it 4-1 off Leenhouts in the second on Gabe Roa's RBI groundout. Serrato opened the inning with a single to right, took second on a fielding error by shortstop John Polonius and moved to third on a groundout.
Indians starter Kyle Castro threw no-hit ball in the second, third and fourth innings, but he ran into trouble when he started S-K's three-run fifth with two walks and two singles. Polonius' two-run single to right was the highlight.
"I think he just got too fine with his pitches," Indians manager Tim Hulett said of Castro. "After the first inning he did a good job of pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of the hitters, but that fifth inning, for whatever reason, he got behind that first hitter (who walked). That's kind of been his struggle. His M.O. has been pitching away from contact and we want him to pitch to contact."
Relief pitchers on both sides dominated the sixth through 10th innings. S-K's Armando Paniagua, Juan Nova and Steven Neff blanked Spokane on four hits for five innings. Spokane's Ryne Slack, Keone Kela and Justin Sprenger one-upped the Volcanoes with six innings of three-hit shutout ball. Slack threw 32 of his 44 pitches for strikes.
"Slack's been throwing the ball great lately and he's been very impressive," Hulett said. "He's one of the best lefties in the league, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, Kela and Sprenger both came in and looked great tonight."
Serrato's homer off Daniel Slania was the first the former Notre Dame player had allowed as a pro.
"I knew I had two strikes on me, so I was just looking to battle," Serrato said. "I got a pitch inside to handle and it just went out. It just kind of stayed up, and it was straight and over the heart of the plate."
The Volcanoes entered with the league's best batting average (.266) while Spokane (.220) is eighth and last.
Spokane hadn't scored more than five runs in a game since July 22. The Indians had scored 15 runs in their previous eight games.
Wind kicked up in the bottom of the sixth and light rain fell in the seventh.