It was a contest of small ball versus long ball.
The only problem for the Spokane Indians was they hit just one long ball.
Eric Fry went 2 for 3 with a solo homer, but that didn’t do the job. The visiting Everett AquaSox, backed by starting pitcher Walter Suriel, bunted and sacrificed their way to a 4-1 Northwest League victory Wednesday night at Avista Stadium.
The Indians’ loss was in stark contrast to their 15-3 season-opening slugfest win Tuesday.
“We still had a couple of opportunities, just couldn’t get that clutch hit,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “(Tuesday) night we had a lot of two-out hits that really ran the score up and looked good. Tonight we didn’t get the two-out hits.”
After Fry’s lead-off home run in the third inning, Spokane had a chance with two on and no outs. Jacob Kaase’s sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, but a fielder’s choice got Joey Butler out heading home. Jared Bolden ended the inning with a flyout to center field.
Again, in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, the Indians had runners at second and third thanks to consecutive singles by Doug Hogan and Fry. But Butler, after fighting Suriel through an eight-pitch at-bat, struck out looking.
It was Suriel’s big break in a five-strikeout, seven-inning outing. His off-speed pitches shut down the Indians’ bats, according to Hulett. He also didn’t walk a batter.
“He had a good, tight slider – kind of an invisi-slider that guys fished for a few times, so they were having trouble picking it up,” Hulett said.
Fry, who had the best luck against Suriel, said the Indians – at least at this point – are more of a fastball-hitting team.
“He kept the more powerful part of our lineup off-balance,” Fry said of Suriel. “I mean, that’s what it takes. The pitcher did a good job – he beat us. A tip of our caps to him.”
Spokane starting pitcher Martin Perez had five strikeouts, but he gave up three runs in five innings as Everett capitalized off the Indians’ two errors.
In the third inning, Everett’s Nat Tenbrink reached first on an error by Indians third baseman Matt West. The mistake ended up costing Spokane a run when Travis Howell hit into a fielder’s choice that brought Tenbrink home.
In the next inning, Spokane shortstop Ed Koncel’s error put Ben Billingsley on third.
Jim Davenport laid a bunt down the first-base line to complete the successful suicide squeeze.
The AquaSox committed no errors.
“Of course, we didn’t really hit the ball in a fashion that put the pressure on them,” Hulett said. “(We) made the errors with guys on base.”
Perez didn’t record a walk. He allowed three hits and just one earned run, but he left the stadium with the loss.
“Today was just a bad day for everybody,” Fry said of the offense.
Now tied at 1 in the five-game series, the AquaSox and the Indians will meet again at 6:30 tonight at Avista Stadium.
Four players were added to the Indians roster – and one was removed – bringing the total to the maximum 30. The Texas Rangers sent Kyle Murphy up to their Single-A club, the Clinton LumberKings, and sent down David Paisano to the short-season Indians. Also added were infielder Jason Ogata (Oregon State), pitcher Corey Young (Seton Hall) and pitcher Dustin Brader (Arizona State). The roster is expected to change slightly in the upcoming weeks as the College World Series comes to an end. … As of Wednesday, the Indians have the lowest average age in the Northwest League at 21 years, 2 months. … After two days, all eight NWL teams are 1-1.