A baseball team can win with a blast or a bloop – or in the case of the Boise Hawks, it can be something entirely different.
The Hawks had three bunt singles and two other infield hits, which proved to be the difference in a 4-3 win over the Spokane Indians before 4,915 fans at Avista Stadium on Sunday night.
“It’s hard to defend their speed,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “They have speed all over the place. If you’re not ready as an infielder they’re going to do something. Some of those plays are just not defensible.
“Then it shows up on defense. (Shortstop George) Matheus made an outstanding play there to lead off the ninth. If that ball goes through anything can happen. That’s a big-time play there.”
Matheus went deep in the hole to backhand a grounder and made a strong throw to Justin Bour, who made a nice scoop, to get speedy Edward Martinez. Then the Indians (29-33) went quickly and quietly to fall a game behind the Hawks (30-32) in the battle for second behind Tri-City.
The speed was never more evident than in the second inning, when Boise scored three runs off Matt Thompson (3-4).
An infield hit, a single to center and a bunt single loaded the bases. One run scored when Matheus whacked a ground ball off Thompson and a second came when the Indians couldn’t complete a potential inning-ending double play because of Jose Valdez’s speed.
Even though there was no scoring after the fifth inning and it ended up as a one-run game, it just didn’t seem that close because the Indians were out-hit 13-6.
With Tri-City rallying to beat Yakima 4-3, Spokane fell seven games back with just 14 to play.
“We don’t ever count ourselves out until we’re eliminated,” Hulett said. “We had a little meeting today. We’ve made a great comeback. They set some goals to try to do something the second half of the season and they’re real close to accomplishing them.”
A near-impossible deficit can lead to giving up, the wait-until-next-year syndrome, but not here.
“I just wanted to remind them they’re paid to play through Sept. 6, at least; remind them how to be professional about their game and take care of business,” Hulett said of the last two weeks of the season. “Their careers are on the line right here. This all counts. We’re not just finishing up the season.
“It’s not going to go unnoticed. Whether we come back and get a chance to be in the playoffs or not, these guys have already made a statement about what kind of character they have because of their comeback.”
With five more games with Boise on this homestand, there are lessons to be learned and statements to be made.
Spokane catcher Vinnie DiFazio was promoted to Hickory of the South Atlantic League before the Indians went on the road. He hit his third home run for the Crawdads on Sunday and is hitting .528 in four games. … Pitcher Bobby Wilkins, a sixth-round pick in 2007, joined the Indians on the road and has pitched two scoreless innings in two games.