Indians pile on runs, take deciding game of series
It’s ‘see ball, hit ball’ 16 times
Aja Barto punished the outfield fence in more than one way doing his a part in a Spokane Indians power display that punished Vancouver in the final game of their five-game Northwest League baseball series Wednesday at Avista Stadium.
The Indians hit for the cycle during a six-run fourth inning in their 11-2 victory in the rubber game of the series. They finished with two home runs, four doubles and a triple during the 16-hit night.
“It was an offensive explosion,” manager Tim Hulett said. “We had a lot of hits, but they (the Canadians) had them, too. We got our hits at the right time.”
Barto crushed his second home run in as many games in the bottom of the second inning and crashed into the left-field fence while making a difficult catch a bit later.
The homer was Barto’s fifth of the year and 14th RBI, halving an early 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the second inning.
In the sixth, following a leadoff error, Spokane (8-11) belted five hits, including a double by Tommy Mendonca, run-scoring triple by Clark Murphy and two-run, opposite-field homer by Miguel Velazquez that put the Indians and winner Trevor Hurley (1-0) up 7-2 and in charge.
Infield hits by Vancouver Canadians Kent Walton and Myrio Richard staked the visitors to and early 2-0 lead.
But the long ball ultimately won out, beginning with Barto.
He got the audience of 3,835 into it when he socked a towering fly ball out of left-center field.
On defense, after getting turned around on a long fly ball by Jose Crisomoto and with a runner on first, Barto made the grab and hit the fence with a resounding thud. But he had the presence of mind to flip the ball to center fielder Kyle Rhoad. He stayed on the ground, not moving, at the base of the fence for a while. But Barto remained in the game.
“I was playing kind of shallow on the guy and he got a good piece of it,” Barto said. “I had no clue where the wall was. I was full throttle and the next thing I see is my face hitting it.”
In the fourth, Spokane exploded. Vinnie DiFazio reached base by error when he scorched a ball at third baseman Jernigan. Mendonca’s double, Zach Zaneski’s grounder and Murphy’s triple put the Indians in front.
Lima, on an offensive tear, singled in a run, and following a hit by Joe Bonadonna and sacrifice fly by Rhoad, Velazquez sealed it with his homer to right.
Lima added a double in the sixth and two-run single in the seventh, giving him nine hits in his last 11 at bats. He scored twice and drove in three runs from the nine-hole, complementing fine defense.
“That’s three hits three nights in a row,” Hulett said. “But it was not only offense, he made some great plays defensively. He had a whole game tonight.”
After two off games, DiFazio finished 4 for 5, reaching base five times.
“We have great instructors and they tell us to stick with the same approach,” DiFazio said. “Basically it’s ‘see ball, hit ball.’ Hitting is contagious.”
After a rocky start, Hurley worked out of continuing difficulty through the fifth, stranding eight runners for his victory. Two relievers finished it off.