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Spokane Indians

Offense-starved Indians feast on Dust Devils

Sat., July 18, 2009

The Spokane Indians’ fans may have been drawn by the promise of a $1 feast Friday night – all hot dogs, sodas and ice cream sandwiches were a buck – but they were treated to a Thanksgiving-level banquet of runs.

And it was the Indians giving thanks.

“It’s good for the guys,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “They’ve been working hard and it’s good for them to come out and swing the bats like they did tonight.”

The Indians, last in the Northwest League in hitting, had 13 hits in a 12-8 defeat of East Division-leading Tri-City, snapping a five-game losing streak and sending the 6,475 in Avista Stadium home sated.

Every Spokane starter had at least one hit, with Joe Bonadonna, Jared Prince, Zach Zaneski and Denny Duran picking up two each.

The feast started in the first, powered by Prince’s three-run, opposite-field home run to the Grotto down the right-field line.

“That’s huge for us,” Hulett said.

“We give them one in the first and for us to come right back and score, and score with a crooked number, not just a one, it was big for us.”

It was also Prince’s second professional homer, the Indians’ first this season into the fan-filled short porch and the first time in the series Spokane led by more than a run.

“With a soft-tossing lefty like that, you’re trying to look middle of the field, away,” said Prince, who led Washington State University to the NCAA tournament this spring. “He threw me a pitch right where I was looking. I really was just trying to put it in the air for (leadoff hitter Bonadonna) on third base to score and I got backspin a little bit and it kept going.”

So did Spokane’s offense. By the end of the second inning the Indians led by seven. And Tri-City (18-9 and atop the East Division) had put in a new catcher.

As part of a six-run second – matching Spokane’s biggest explosion at home – that included five singles and a two-RBI double, designated hitter Vincent DiFazio lived up to his part, bowling over catcher Jose Gonzalez on Jason Ogata’s sacrifice fly to right.

Though Gonzalez looked dazed when he left – he lie sprawled on the ground even after pitcher Matt Baugh (0-2) picked up the ball from between his legs – the report was a stinger in his shoulder.

“Very clean,” Hulett said of the play. “The ball was right there and he was standing right on home plate.”

Matt Thompson was the original beneficiary of the offensive explosion, though it was touch and go if the right-hander would get out of the top of the first. As the near-sellout crowd was still trying to navigate the parking lot traffic, Thompson yielded three game-opening singles.

But the Devils, who lost for the first time in 12 games this season against an East Division team, scored only on Bo Bowman’s ground out as Thompson induced Joe Sanders to pop out to right and Ben Paulsen to chase a two-strike curve ball in the dirt.

The Devils scored again in the second, manufacturing a two-out run with two singles and a stolen base. But by the time Bowman’s fourth home run of the season knocked Thompson from the mound two outs short of qualifying for his second win, Spokane was in double figures.

Shane Zegarac (2-0) earned the victory with an inning and two-thirds of midgame relief, using just 13 pitches to get five outs.

It was a much-needed win for the 10-17 Indians.

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