Indians make most of minimal offense
Hits were plentiful for Spokane the previous three games, but scarce on Thursday.
The Indians made them count, squeezing four runs out of five hits and three Boise errors to grab a 4-2 Northwest League baseball victory as 4,466 looked on at Avista Stadium.
The Indians’ fourth straight win squared their season record at 33-33, the first time they’ve been .500 since they were 3-3 on June 25. And they did it in a hurry as a pitchers’ duel led to a 2-hour, 3-minute contest, the fastest game of the season. However, the Indians didn’t make up any ground in the East Division race, remaining seven games back of Tri-City.
Left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross dominated virtually every Hawks batter not named Bobby Wagner. Ross worked six rapid-fire innings, striking out five and allowing just four hits, including Wag-ner’s two-run homer and double.
Justin King pitched three scoreless innings to close it out.
“It’s finding a way to win,” said left fielder Jared Prince, who scored the go-ahead run in the seventh. “We did just enough. Pitching won the game for us. Robbie and Justin were lights out.”
Spokane made the Hawks pay for an error in the top of the first. Edward Martinez reached when second baseman Logan Watkins mishandled a ground ball. Martinez swiped second and third and scored on Miguel Velazquez’s grounder to first.
The Indians paid for a miscue of their own in the second. Greg Rohan’s slow roller to third was gloved by Jason Ogata, but his throw pulled Clark Murphy off first base. Wagner hit Ross’ next pitch well beyond the right-field fence for his team-high fourth home run and a 2-1 lead.
Spokane pulled even in the third. Denny Duron singled, moved to second on a balk – the fourth balk called in the last two games – went to third on Joe Bonadonna’s bunt and came home on Martinez’s ground out.
Prince reached first base on the first of two throwing errors by Hak-Ju Lee, who was named to the Northwest League All-Star team Thursday. Prince stole second base and scored on Clark Murphy’s base hit to center.
Duron led off the eighth with a double. Two outs later, Lee fielded Velazquez’s bouncer deep at short, but threw off target to first. Duron scored to give the Indians a 4-2 edge.
“It was nice to run into one right there and Miguel getting me in was huge,” Duron said. “We were fortunate to get an extra run.”
Three of Spokane’s four runs were unearned. Ross allowed two runs, one earned.
“He’d been kind of laboring his last few outings. The season is getting long for those guys and his ball was up in the zone,” manager Tim Hulett said. “He made some good adjustments, got the ball down better and mixed his pitches better. He threw his change a little more.”
Ross, Velazquez and catcher Vincent DiFazio were named to the NWL All-Star team. Ross is 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA. Velazquez is hitting .293 with nine homers and 38 RBIs. DiFazio, who was called up to Low-A Hickory last week, hit .274 with 29 RBIs. … Third baseman Tommy Mendonca has been promoted to High-A Bakersfield. Mendonca hit .309 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs.