The Spokane Indians took the unconventional approach to scoring against the Everett AquaSox on Thursday.
It almost worked.
All but one of the Indians’ runs came courtesy of mistakes by AquaSox pitchers. Although Spokane threatened with a runner on third and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Everett came away with the 7-6 win in the third game of the Indians’ five-game homestand.
For those of the 6,637 fans who stayed at Avista Stadium until the late innings the game was a nailbiter.
“Well, it’s good to see the guys come back,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “That’s a good sign. On the flip side, we need to play better defense.”
Everett jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, capitalizing on two Indians infield errors.
Everett scored the first run on a no-out error at second base. Wellington Dotel followed with an RBI double. After a fielder’s choice and strikeout, George Soto fought through eight pitches and lined a two-run single to right.
“You can’t give up four runs and put our pitchers in a bind,” Hulett said. “(Starter Michael) Kirkman did a fantastic job. He showed a lot of poise tonight. And that’s a big step for him.”
In five innings, Kirkman struck out four and walked one. He allowed no earned runs.
The AquaSox stretched their lead on an error by Spokane shortstop Jacob Kaase in the seventh, and tacked on two more in the top of the eighth when closer Clifford Springston allowed three hits, including a double by Luis Nunez.
Spokane also did its scoring on errors.
The Indians tallied their first three runs in the fourth on freebies from Everett reliever Robbie Dominguez. With the bases loaded and no outs, Dominguez walked Spokane’s Justin Pickett, then hit both Matt West and Eric Fry. Dominguez faced six batters in the fourth without recording an out.
Everett switched pitchers, and Eddy Fernandez shut down Spokane for the rest of the inning. Fernandez escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation.
“Well, we scored three runs,” Hulett said. “I guess the greedy side of me wishes we scored six, but we didn’t. And we’ve got some things we gotta work on. We need to have a better plan, maybe, with the bases loaded and no outs.”
The Indians, however, didn’t go away so quietly.
Spokane’s next two runs came on more mistakes on the mound, with Aaron Brown’s wild pitches in the bottom of the eighth. Still in the eighth, Donnie Ecker swatted a single through the gap into left field for the Indians’ only RBI on a hit. That closed the deficit to 7-6.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jacob Kaase singled to center field. He moved to third base after a wild pitch by Everett closer Javier Martinez and a fielder’s choice.
With two outs and a runner on third, Pickett stepped up to the plate. With the crowd cheering, Pickett hit an easy grounder to second baseman Nunez and ended the game.
“I’d just say that we didn’t get the big hit when we needed it,” Ecker said. “You get in those situations and sometimes you can have two big hits and win a game, or you can have nine hits and you don’t come up with a hit at the right time. That’s just the way it was tonight.”
Spokane has a chance to tie up the series against Everett at 6:30 tonight at Avista Stadium.