Indians collapse in ninth
Vancouver scores four times in final inning
Dan Thomas and his team knew when they loaded the bases in the top of the ninth that they could pull it off. The Vancouver Canadians were optimistic. The Spokane Indians, Thomas could tell, were down.
Then later in the inning came the deal-breaker – Spokane reliever Justin Gutsie threw a wild pitch and let Vancouver’s go-ahead run score from third. The Indians – more to the point, the Indians relievers – had blown a three-run lead and the game, as the Canadians defeated Spokane 7-6 Saturday at Avista Stadium.
“We knew we definitely had a chance, because we always come back,” said Thomas, Vancouver’s closing pitcher. “We come back a lot.”
The Indians led 6-3 going into the top of the ninth. Usually, that’s a comfortable lead, Spokane’s Jared Bolden said. But the game turned out frustrating for him – with two two-run homers for four RBIs, he had done his part on offense.
“You have a good day at the plate, but when it’s all said and done, it’s a team game,” Bolden said. “And as a team, we couldn’t get it done today.”
Bolden got things going for the Indians in the bottom of the third when his first home run brought in Zach Zaneski, who had reached first on a walk. Spokane (37-15) added one run to the scoreboard in each of the next two innings, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Matt West and a solo homer by Ed Koncel.
Vancouver (21-31) threatened in the seventh by bringing in three runs to narrow Spokane’s lead to 4-3, but the Indians responded with two more runs of their own.
It almost looked as though Spokane had the victory in the bag.
Reliever Juan Peralta, who had dispatched the Canadians in a three-up three-down eighth inning, started off the ninth with two walks. After a strikeout, Dante Love singled through the gap into left field.
With the bases loaded, Peralta walked one more, and Indians manager Tim Hulett yanked him.
Gutsie came in but the first batter he faced, Jareck West, smacked a double to center field that scored two and tied the game. With David Thomas at bat, Gutsie threw his wild pitch and Rodney Rutherford came home.
“Baseball’s a different game every day,” Hulett said. “You gotta come and you gotta take care of business, and we had trouble taking care of business at the end of the game. Which is unusual for us.”
Dan Thomas shut down the Indians in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out the side, taking out Bolden with his last pitch.
The struggles of Spokane’s relievers overshadowed starter Martin Perez’s outing. The 17-year-old pitched a no-hitter through five innings.
“Martin pitched great tonight. That’s one of his better outings and that’s good to see,” Hulett said. “Would have been nice to get a win for him, though.”
And Spokane lost despite big offensive games by Bolden and Koncel. Koncel, who entered the game batting .216, went 2 for 4 with the solo homer and two runs. Bolden went 2 for 5.
The loss – and Boise’s victory against Salem-Keizer – shrunk Spokane’s lead in the Northwest League’s East Division to six games and tied the five-game home series against the Canadians at two wins apiece. The tiebreaker is tonight at 6:30 at Avista Stadium.