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Archive for June 2013

If the intent is there, that should be good enough

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It may be summer, but we have recruiting on our mind. And it is all Christian Caple's fault. Read on.

Recapturing a little magic

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Every once in a great while, a game like last night's in Safeco reminds us why baseball is such a great game to watch, listen to or read about. Read on.

Olynyk’s journey takes another turn

A GRIP ON SPORTS

A couple of years ago, when you saw Kelly Olynyk (if you saw him at all), he was the tall, skinny guy at the end of the Gonzaga bench, jumping up and celebrating whenever a Zag made a big play. Now he's a Boston Celtic. A soon-to-be-very-rich Boston Celtic. What a journey. Read on.

Indians ends long homestand with setback

The Spokane Indians completed a significant homestand Thursday night with a 5-2 loss to Vancouver that left the team 5-6 for the season at Avista Stadium. The home cooking was mostly positive as Spokane won five of eight games against Boise and Vancouver to improve to 6-8 for the Northwest League season after starting 1-6. Vancouver won the series 2-1 and is 4-2 against the Indians this year. Spokane is 4-1 against teams from the NWL's South Division but is 2-7 in its own division, the North. Spokane takes to  the road, starting Friday, for three games at Everett and three games at Pasco against the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Indians' next homestand starts the Fourth of July with the first of five games against the Eugene Emeralds. Read story

The M’s season in short form

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was a span of four outs in yesterday's Mariners loss that illustrated the season perfectly. Read on.

Indians gain win on error in 10th inning

It's been an interesting homestand for the Spokane Indians, starting with the five victories in seven games that have helped the Northwest League team creep closer (6-7) to .500 after starting the year 1-6. The first game of the homestand was rained out, forcing Spokane and Boise to play a doubleheader last Saturday. Monday's game with Boise was played in a persistent rain and ended on a home run by Indians center fielder Chris Garia in the 11th inning. Wednesday's game with Vancouver went 10 innings and ended with Spokane winning on a infield error in the 10th inning. Spokane has won back-to-back extra-inning games after losing 13 consecutive games that went beyond nine innings. Read story

Vandals to play at USC in 2015

Idaho continues to stack up big-name (and big-money) football opponents. The latest is USC, which announced Wednesday that it will host the Vandals in 2015. UI will net $1.1 million to play the Trojans, slightly more than they get to travel to Auburn the same season.

The Vandals have played one or two high-profile opponents a season in recent years, and the paydays for these games continues to rise. In 2007, when UI played at USC in Robb Akey's first game as coach, the Vandals took home $600,000. They got $800,000 to play at Nebraska in 2010, and last year LSU paid Idaho $925,000 to play in Baton Rouge.

Idaho's 2013 schedule — its lone year as an independent before joining the Sun Belt — includes money games at Mississippi ($850,000) and Florida State ($950,000). In 2014, UI will get $975,000 to play at Florida.

Also on Wednesday, Idaho announced it will host a football media day on Aug. 23.

Oregon wins another day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Today was supposed to be simple. I would wait until the NCAA released its sanctions on Oregon and then rail about how unfairly the Ducks were treated. Simple. But the NCAA didn't cooperate. Read on.

A 7th player commits to Cougars

COUGARS

Reports yesterday indicate that Washington State picked up its seventh oral commitment for the class of 2014, as cornerback Kevin Griffin of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., told Braulio Perez that he's committed to WSU.

Here's that story, as well as Griffin's bio from Scout.com (he's listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds). CougCenter has more analysis here.

And here's a video of Griffin's highlights:

Here's a full list of WSU's known 2014 commitments from Scout.com.

Anderson, 3 relievers hang first shutout on Indians

The Spokane Indians' four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Tuesday night as Vancouver's Kyle Anderson and three relievers checked  the Indians on four singles during a 4-0 game at Avista Stadium. The game was the opener of a three-game series as Spokane is wrapping up an eight-game homestand. The Indians were coming off four consecutive wins over Boise, but Vancouver has been a bit tougher for Spokane to crack. The Canadians are 3-1 against Spokane this year. Anderson, who pitched for the Spokane RiverHawks four seasons ago, retired 11 consecutive batters from the third through the sixth innings. Read story

What a comeback

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Down a goal with a little more than a minute left and staring at an anything-can-happen Game 7, the Chicago Blackhawks scored twice to win the Stanley Cup on Monday night in a pretty darn riveting performance. It was a victory for the memory banks and got me thinking about comebacks. Read on.

Garia does it again for streaking Indians

Make it four wins in a row for the Spokane Indians, who are moving their way up the Northwest League's North Division standings. Monday's 5-3 victory over Boise in 11 innings improved the Indians' record to 5-6 and put them just one game behind second-place Vancouver, which begins a three-game series at Avista Stadium on Tuesday night. Monday's storyline sort of repeated Sunday's as leadoff hitter Chris Garia hit a two-out, two-run homer to left field in the 11th for the win. Garia hit two homers to right during Sunday's win. He has hit more homers in the last two days than he had hit in his professional career, which began in 2010 in the Dominican Summer League. Read story

Is GU potential destination for Wiltjer?

Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer announced Monday his intentions to transfer. Gonzaga is believed to be one of the numerous schools that could interest Wiltjer.

More below.

It takes an iron will to compete in these two events

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I sure hope whoever is in charge of the weather understands Hoopfest is this weekend. And it's not supposed to rain around here on Hoopfest. If it does, there will be heck to pay. Read on.

Indians capture third consecutive win

The Spokane Indians started their Northwest League season 1-6, but they are now 4-6 after Sunday's 8-6 win over Boise at Avista Stadium. Spokane had been alone in last place in the North Division for five days, but the Indians ended the day tied with the Tri-City Dust Devils and just two games out of second place. Their three consecutive wins have been tight, however, as they've outscored Boise by one, one and two runs. The teams will complete a five-game series on Monday before Vancouver comes to Spokane for three games. Read story

We’re pretty upbeat around here

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't know what to say. It was actually a pretty successful Saturday around these parts yesterday, at least for the local baseball clubs. Read on.

Indians edge Boise twice

The first week of the Northwest League season had been a downer for the Spokane Indians, but the second week is looking up. The Indians played a pair of seven-inning games against Boise on Saturday, a way to make up for Thursday's rainout, and swept the Hawks 3-2, 4-3 with sharp pitching, some timely hits and excellent fielding plays. Spokane hadn't won at Avista Stadium until Saturday and entered the doubleheader with a 1-6 record. Sunday's afternoon game will give the Indians three games in a 22-hour period. Read story

Saturdays have it all

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't get all this TGIF stuff. Sure, Friday's are cool, but it is Saturday, day or night, that is really all right. Read on.

Homers hand Indians another home loss

Friday night's 4-1 loss to the Boise Hawks left the Spokane Indians with the worst record (1-6) in the Northwest League. The Indians are also the lone NWL team still seeking its first home victory. Friday's culprit was two Boise home runs that accounted for all of the Hawks' runs. Spokane led 1-0 after five innings before Boise unleashed its power game. Read story

Shock extinguish Blaze 80-41

Spokane crushed Utah 80-41 on Friday at the Arena to improve to 10-4 heading into a bye week.

My unedited game story is below.

Game day: Shock entertain Blaze

It's been a long grind — 14 games in 14 weeks — but Spokane's mood entering next week's bye will be determined by tonight's outcome against Utah. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Arena.

The Blaze have a new quarterback and a different look at several positions from last month's 52-48 win over Spokane, the middle setback in the Shock's three-game losing streak. Here's my game preview and another in the Salt Lake Tribune. Utah is sticking with Jason Boltus at quarterback.

The race is on for the second seed in the National Conference. Arizona has the inside track to the top seed. Spokane (9-4) leads San Jose (8-4) for the second seed and owns the tiebreaker with a 2-0 record in head-to-head meetings. The second seed usually has to travel in the first round, but Central Division leader Chicago is dealing with ownership and arena issues and probably would have to play on the road in the first round.

The fourth seed likely would have to open the playoffs at Arizona. 

—More news out of Salt Lake City where the Blaze have fallen behind paying the rent at EnergySolutions Arena.

Really, can it get any worse?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Seattle Mariners have suffered some devastating defeats over the years. The one in August, 2001, in Cleveland, which ultimately cost the M's a chance to win more regular season games than any team in baseball history, comes to mind. But last night's may just have been the worst considering the circumstances. Read on.

This Gretzky’s goal is the World Series

The Spokane Indians and Boise Hawks were scheduled to begin a five-game Northwest League series Thursday night at Avista Stadium. Persistent rain and cold weather forced the Indians to call for a postponement about 3 hours before the 6:30 start. The Hawks made their way to Spokane Falls Community College to take a few swings in the indoor batting cage. Boise first baseman/outfielder Trevor Gretzky, son of NHL great Wayne, sat and chatted for about 10 minutes before starting his workout. Trevor has always been a baseball guy and said his father also has a great love for the game. Boise and Spokane are scheduled to play at 6:30 Friday night, weather permitting, and make up Thursday's game as part of a Saturday doubleheader that will start at 5:30. Both games will be seven innings. Read story

Tennell steps up game

Shock receiver Adron Tennell was coming off a record-setting 2012 season, but he's been even better through the first 13 games this season. More on Tennell, who many regard as the AFL's best receiver.

Getting lost in another loss

A GRIP ON SPORTS

When is a loss a win? Well, never. By definition, a loss is the absence of a win. But some losses are better than others. Read on.

Struggling Indians come home for long homestand

Looking on the bright side, the Spokane Indians have only been outscored 30-28 through the first six games of the Northwest League season. But that doesn't reflect the Indians' record, which is 1-5 after Wednesday afternoon's 8-3 loss at Vancouver, British Columbia. In all five losses, Spokane's opponent has scored first. Four of the five losses have been by two runs or less, and Spokane's lone win of the season was a 10-1 blowout. The Indians hope their fortunes turn starting Thursday night, when they start an eight-game homestand starting with a five-game set with the Boise Hawks. Read story

Rutgers added to WSU schedule (and Wisconsin pushed back)

COUGARS

Hoping to catch Wisconsin at Martin Stadium in 2014?

Well, that's not going to happen.

But you can see the Cougars play a “home game” against Rutgers in 2014 at CenturyLink Field on Friday, August 29. WSU returns the favor with a game at Rutgers on Sept. 12, 2015.

In turn, WSU's home-and-home series against Wisconsin, originally scheduled for 2014 (in Pullman) and 2015 (in Madison), has been pushed back to 2022 (in Madison) and 2023 (in Pullman) by way of a “mutual agreement.”

“Adding two BCS opponents to those already on future nonconference schedules benefits our program and is sure to be appealing to our fans,” said athletic director Bill Moos in a statement. “Our 2014 schedule also allows us to bring five quality Pac-12 games (Arizona, USC, Cal, Oregon and Washington) to Pullman to showcase our newly completed facilities.”

The latter part of that quote seems to imply that WSU doesn't plan to move any of its Pac-12 games to CenturyLink Field in 2014, as they have for the past two seasons (and will again this year, with Stanford visiting the CLink).

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Thompkins faces former team

Brandon Thompkins wanted to be traded from Utah and he wanted to return to Spokane. That's exactly what happened last month when Spokane acquired the former Shock receiver.

Thompkins has made some improvements to his game, on and off the field, from his days with the team in 2011-12. Read more here.

The note at the bottom of the link was trimmed in the S-R. Below is the full note on ex-Shock quarterbacks (starters, backups, training camp participants, etc.) seeing time with other franchises.

Have a little perspective

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Perspective is tough to find in sports. Especially these days. Read on.

Melson commits to Gonzaga

Gonzaga landed the first player of its 2014 class when Jefferson High (Portland, Ore.) guard Silas Melson verbally committed on Tuesday.

More on Melson below.

Boom goes the thunder

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know the term “under the weather?” Sometimes it means exactly that. Read on.

Verlin set for extension, raise

Idaho men's basketball coach Don Verlin, who took the Vandals to the postseason three of his first four years of his tenure but has yet to win a conference tournament game, will get a one-year extension through the 2015-2016 season if the State Board of Education gives the go-ahead later this week.

Verlin is 81-78 in five seasons in Moscow. The Vandals are 0-5 in the WAC tournament under the former Utah State assistant but also have three CollegeInsider.com tournament appearances.

Verlin's current contract runs through 2014-15, and if the State Board approves, he'll get 4 percent raises each year as part of the new deal. He would make 156,832 this coming season, $163,105.28 in 2014-2015 and $169,629.49 in 2015-16. He also will get $60,000 annually in media payments, as well as various bonuses for setting various on-the-court, academic and attendance marks. The contract calls for a rolling extension each year the Vandals win 15 games against Division I teams and an automatic extension if UI changes conferences (beyond the scheduled move from the WAC to Big Sky on July 1, 2014).

The max compensation for Verlin ranges from $290,960 in 2013-2014 to $337,113.44 in 2015-16.

The State Board is meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Twin Falls.

Another failure on Father’s Day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

How hard is it, really? You drop hints about what you want for Father's Day – if by hints you mean saying, “I want that” – for the last month or so and, on the big day, no one comes through. Oh, there are other, perfectly fine gifts, of course, but they are a bit like, I don't know, finishing second in the U.S. Open. It's better than 33rd, but it's not exactly what you wanted. Read on.

Indians suffer sweep in first series

There weren't any blowouts, but the Spokane Indians came up empty during their first three games of the Northwest League season. Sunday afternoon's game against Everett ended 4-3, giving the AquaSox three wins in games decided by two runs or less (Friday and Saturday's games were 6-4 finals). The Indians now head to Vancouver, British Columbia for their first road trip. Read story

We want one guy to win today

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is only one guy I can really root for today as the U.S. Open draws to a close. Well, two. Read on.

Everett turns back Indians in season debut

The Spokane Indians fell behind 5-0 in the third inning Friday and fell short of a comeback during a 6-4 setback to the Everett AquaSox as the 2013 Northwest League season began at Avista Stadium. First-round draft selection Alex Gonzalez struggled for the Indians, who were held to four hits. Read story

A bit distracted today

A GRIP ON SPORTS

As I type this, Tiger Woods is teeing it up for his second round at the U.S. Open. Like a lot of you, I am trying to work and keep tabs on what's happening in Pennsylvania. And it isn't easy. Read on.

Indians set for opener in new-look NWL

The Spokane Indians will begin their 31st consecutive season in the Northwest League on Friday with a spot in a new division. The NWL is now divided North-South instead of East-West, so the Indians' new division rivals are Everett, which opens the season at Spokane, and Vancouver. Tri-City is still in Spokane's division. Read story

The pain that comes with sports

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Ouch. Really, that's all I have to say. Ouch. Read on.

Indians outfielder Jarmon dazzled as quarterback

New Spokane Indians outfielder Jamie Jarmon was so talented as a football quarterback in high school that he was named Delaware's player of the year. Jarmon always liked baseball better, however, and his second professional season will begin this week with the Northwest League's Spokane Indians. Read story

It wasn’t a dream

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sometimes, when my back hurts or my leg is sore, I will take a nighttime pain reliever before bed. It helps me feel better and contributes to a long night's sleep. But it also gives me some real weird dreams, hallucinations really. Take last night for example. With my back barking, I took two and went to bed. And had this weird, almost surreal, dream the Mariners won. Not only won, but on a complete game two-hitter. From Aaron Harang. In front of more than 40,000 people. Talk about a true hallucination. Wow. Read on.

Indians begin minicamp with familiar faces

The Spokane Indians began their three-day minicamp on Tuesday with their sights set on Friday's Northwest League opener against Everett. Spokane's current roster features 10 players who were on the Indians' roster in 2012. Seventh-year Indians manager Tim Hulett is fine with that prospect. Read story

WSU improves football APR

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The NCAA released the most recent Academic Progress Rate numbers on Tuesday. Here's a story we put together on how area schools fared, including Washington State.

Guess who won

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We interrupt our day-by-day report on the Mariners' futility for this SportsLink special report: The M's won. And so did my golf team. Read on.

It’s a nice dry day for the WDFO

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sorry, but I have an important engagement this morning, so the post will be a short one. And, as befitting my status as a (semi) retired American, the engagement is on the golf course. Read on.

No roses, just thorns

A GRIP ON SPORTS

One thing I learned this morning: I really have no idea how to spell “rhododendron.” If it wasn't for Word's spell check, this lead-in would have been embarrassing. Read on.

Shock chew up Sharks, 76-41

Spokane won its fourth straight game, throttling Jacksonville 76-41 on Saturday at the Arena.

The key question this week will be whether linebacker Terence Moore, who was ejected in the second half for an illegal hit, will be on the field for Saturday's showdown versus No. 1 Arizona. The league office will likely review the play and make a determination early in the week.

My unedited game story is below.

Shock cruise to fourth straight win

Quick recap below of Spokane's 76-41 rout of Jacksonville on Saturday night.

Hulett looks forward to 7th year with Indians

The Spokane Indians will begin their 31st consecutive season in the Northwest League on Friday. This season will mark the seventh consecutive year that Tim Hulett will serve as Indians manager. The former major leaguer said he's excited for another chance to guide the eight-time NWL champions: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/jun/08/hulett-back-7th-year-indians/

Another quality ‘D’ awaits Shock

No. 2 Spokane is back in action tonight and the storyline is familiar: The Shock will try to solve another quality AFL defense. Two weeks after putting up 61 points on San Antonio and one week after hanging 75 on San Jose, the Shock encounter No. 3 Jacksonville tonight.

The Sharks lead the AFL in sacks and scoring defense.

My game preview. More on the Sharks here.

We have lots of questions and few answers

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's a Saturday in June and I have a bunch of questions. And they are questions that I'm not sure I can answer. Read on.

Some WSU betting lines

COUGARS

You'll likely see these lines in a few other outlets today, since the Golden Nugget sports book just released betting lines for 250 college football games earlier this afternoon. DonBest.com was kind enough to list all of them, so we've sorted through that listing (which you can view here) to pull out the eight WSU games with lines posted.

None of them favor the Cougars. Actually, none of them suggest the Cougars will lose by less than double-digits. But, as always, it's worth noting that Vegas lines simply intend to force as much betting action as possible, and don't necessarily intend to predict a margin of victory.

With that in mind, here's what WSU is looking at, via the Golden Nugget:

Washington State at Auburn (-11.5)

Washington State at USC (-21)

Stanford (-18.5) at Washington State

Oregon State (-13) at Washington State

Washington State at Oregon (-35.5)

Arizona State (-15) at Washington State

Washington State at Arizona (-19)

Washington State at Washington (-14)

The only resemblance is the hairline

A GRIP ON SPORTS

On the desk to the right of my computer I have a mouse pad. On it is a cartoon of a yellow man with a couple hairs, sleeping in his chair at work, a pink donut balanced on his stomach. Of course the man is my hero, Homer Simpson. I've had the mouse pad since 1995. Or just before Tim Duncan entered the NBA. Read on.

The M’s give you multiple choices

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Which of these things was I able to accomplish during the Mariners game yesterday: A) Mow the lawn; B) Fix a window; C) Take a bath; D) Drive to work; F) Yell at the TV to appeal second base; E) Drive home from work after having not actually, you know, worked; G) Shop; H) Make dinner; I) Cleanup after dinner; L) Eat dessert; M) All of the above. Read on.

WSU hires Rod Jensen to hoops staff

COUGARS

Washington State added a member to its basketball coaching staff on Wednesday, announcing the hire of veteran coach Rod Jensen as the team’s new director of player development.

Jensen, a former head coach at Boise State and most recently at the College of Idaho, replaces Jeff Hironaka, who left WSU to become an assistant coach at Portland State.

“We are excited about the addition of Rod Jensen to our staff and want to wish Jeff Hironaka the best at Portland State,” WSU coach Ken Bone said in a statement. “I’ve known Rod for many years and he is an outstanding basketball coach. I love the passion and energy he brings to the game.”

Jensen is known as a defensive-minded coach, and began his career in 1980 as an assistant at University of Redlands. He went on to spend 12 seasons as an assistant at Boise State before taking over as head coach in 1995, a position he held until 2002.

After that, Jensen moved on to an assistant job at Virginia, then was an assistant at UNC-Greensboro before becoming the head coach at NAIA school College of Idaho in 2010.

The school chose not to retain him at the end of the 2013 season despite COI’s 15-14 record, its first winning mark since 2009.

As director of player development, Jensen, like Hironaka before him, won’t be allowed to have on-court contact with players during practices. But he will be allowed to help devise game plans, and can sit on the bench during games.

And here's the full release from the school:

Shock finding work/rest balance

You'd never know Beau Bell has been battling a high ankle sprain. He had two sacks and three quarterback hurries in Saturday's rout over San Jose.

Watching practice at the last few media days, Bell is often by himself stretching or conditioning, or he's working with a member of the training staff. He'd prefer practicing, but the reduced workload limits wear and tear on his body and allows him to play on game day. He's been productive, despite dealing with an injury that typically sidelines players for 3-4 weeks.

More on the flexible practice schedule in my Shock notebook here.

Also, there's a note near the bottom on Raul Vijil, whose No. 15 was scheduled to be retired during Saturday's home game with Jacksonville. Vijil was in the Shock offices late last week to put his signature on retirement papers, but declined. It doesn't necessarily mean Vijil is plotting a comeback. It simply leaves the option open. 

Majority owner Brady Nelson said retirement papers aren't required by the AFL, but he wants to be certain that when a number is retired the player doesn't return two months later with Spokane or the following season with another team. Makes sense. If Vijil has any doubts, he did the wise thing. A retirement ceremony can always be held at a later date, next season, etc.

Vijil was with the team from its inaugural season in 2006 through 2011. Other than No. 9 (for the ninth man), Vijil's No. 15 jerseys are still the most popular in the stands at Shock home games.

Ignore these help wanted ads

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There are certain jobs that don't seem too safe right now. Drummer for Spinal Tap. Justin Bieber security guard at a Heat game. Catcher for the Seattle Mariners. Read on.

Another Cougar commitment

COUGARS

Washington State's list of known committed players for the class of 2014 is up to six after the news broke yesterday that Sacramento receiver Calvin Green has committed to the Cougars.

Green, who is listed by Scout.com as 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds and attends Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, is another player who lines up primarily at running back for his high school team but reportedly projects as an inside receiver at WSU.

Here's a story about his commitment from Braulio Perez, who reports that Green has been offered scholarships by more than 10 schools.

CougCenter's Kyle Rancourt breaks down the commitment here.

Here's a list of WSU's known committed players, according to Scout.com.

And here are some highlights:

Another sports hero is gone

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Even the nickname scared me. “The Fearsome Foursome.” The NFL's first front four that became media stars. The Rams' defensive line in the 1960s. The guys who really got me excited about pro football. And now only one of them is left. Read on.

Hironaka headed to Portland State

COUGARS

Jeff Hironaka is leaving Washington State to become an assistant coach again.

Hironaka, who was reassigned prior to last season from an assistant coaching position to the role of director of player development, is headed to Portland State to work as an assistant coach, the Spokesman-Review has confirmed.

Neither WSU or PSU have officially announced the move, though Hironaka tweeted earlier Monday that he will miss WSU, and others — including former WSU basketball operations coordinator Tim Marrion — have congratulated him on his new position with Portland State.

Hironaka spent three years as an assistant under coach Ken Bone at WSU before his reassignment last season. Prior to his stint in Pullman, Hironaka was the head coach of Seattle Pacific from 2002-2009, and was an assistant there from 1991-2002.

It’s stupid, but I’m holding a grudge

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Guess what? It's a Monday and there isn't a lot of stuff to talk about in the region. Oh, there are the usual “the-Mariners-are-falling-apart” stories. And, as it's the first part of June, college baseball teams with connections to the area are still trying to win a national title. But that's about it. Unless you want to talk about the Miami Heat. Read on.

Even the M’s good timing comes on a bad day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

An injury is never good for a player in any sport. But for an organization like the Mariners, an injury can come at an opportune time. Such is the case with Jesus Montero's torn meniscus. Read on.

Shock dominate San Jose, 75-45

Final game story below from Spokane's 75-45 win over San Jose on Saturday.

Shock crush San Jose 75-45

 

By Jim Meehan

jimm@spokesman.com; (208) 765-7131

It doesn’t seem to matter who San Jose has at quarterback when it faces the Spokane Shock.

The last three meetings between the West Division rivals have produced one-sided outcomes in Spokane’s favor.

The third-ranked Shock dominated from start to finish, forcing three turnovers and scoring on every possession before running out the closing seconds of a 75-45 victory over No. 2 San Jose in front of an announced crowd of 9,138 Saturday at the Arena.

Spokane (8-3), winners of three straight, defeated the SaberCats (7-3) for the third consecutive time by an average margin of 26.3 points. Those three wins have come against certain Hall of Fame quarterbacks Mark Grieb (90-63 last season) and Aaron Garcia (69-47 six weeks ago), and Russ Michna, who was signed after Garcia tossed five interceptions against Spokane in April.

Michna didn’t make it through the first half, leaving with a possible concussion. He exited after going 12 of 21 with no touchdowns and Spokane in front 41-16.

Spokane did just about everything right in the first half. The Shock scored on its five possessions, twice on Brandon Thompkins touchdown catches, twice on Adron Tennell runs and once on quarterback Erik Meyer’s 1-yard run on fourth down.

Spokane scored 41 points in the first half against a SaberCats’ defense that hadn’t allowed more than 38 in their last five games.

The Shock defense made a stop on San Jose’s second series when Terrance Sanders broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Jason Willis.

Sanders helped break the game open when he wrestled the ball away from Willis and raced 42 yards for a touchdown. Jeffrey Solomon, pressed into defensive back duty when Patrick Stoudamire was shaken up, picked off a pass from backup quarterback Mitch Mustain late in the first half.

San Jose’s first series of the third quarter ended with a Mustain incomplete pass on fourth down. The Shock capitalized on Meyer’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Solomon, boosting Spokane’s lead to 48-16.

Meyer finished with four touchdown passes and backup quarterback Arvell Nelson tossed two TDs. Thompkins had five catches for 86 yards and four touchdowns.

 

Showdown for Shock, SaberCats

Spokane's 69-47 rout of San Jose six weeks ago changed the course of the SaberCats' season. San Jose traded future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Garcia to Orlando and signed former Chicago QB Russ Michna.

The SaberCats haven't lost since, winning five in a row. Spokane immediately dropped three straight but has rebounded with a pair of victories. . 

They tangle tonight in a game that will go a long way in determining both teams' playoff hopes. Here's my game preview. More on Michna here.

The third-ranked Shock are 7-3, No. 2 San Jose is 7-2 and No. 1 Arizona is 9-1. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. 

Spoiler alert: ESPN is everywhere

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I watched a lot of baseball yesterday. A lot. And all of it, appropriately enough, on a screen no larger than the one I had in my college dorm room back in 1975. Yet I was happy. Read on.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) 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 (@JacobThorpe) Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) 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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