It’s a step in the right direction.
Winless in 19 games when trailing after six innings, the Spokane Indians finally broke through, rallying in 11 innings to top the Eugene Emeralds 7-6 in an entertaining Northwest League game before 4,888 at Avista Stadium.
Aja Barto fought off an inside pitch and looped it to right field, scoring Miguel Velazquez from second for the winning run.
“I was just looking for something straight that I could take the other way,” Barto said. “If it’s sticking the bat out there and dumping one into right field, then that’s what it takes.”
The Indians (15-25) had a team meeting before the game. Close games were among the topics.
“We talked earlier today about needing to break through and win one,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “We have the mentality of, ‘Oh, no, here we go again,’ in close games.”
Hulett didn’t know that the Indians hadn’t won a game they trailed after six innings.
“Just 0-19?” Hulett asked. “I could have gone all year without knowing that stat. I don’t know what to say. We’ve played a lot of close games, obviously. (When we didn’t score in the 10th) you could feel the air go out of the dugout. But we reached down and put it together.”
Hulett was referring to the fact the Indians had the bases loaded with one out but couldn’t score a run in the 10th.
Eugene (18-22) took a 6-4 advantage in the top of the seventh on a run-scoring single by Edinson Rincon.
Spokane tied it with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Jason Ogata knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly and Tommy Mendonca knocked in a run with a double past diving 6-foot-8 first baseman Nate Freiman.
Mendonca had three hits, including his second homer in two games, and three RBIs and Barto finished with three hits.
In the 11th, Velazquez reached on a walk and moved to second on a single by Mendonca, bringing Barto to the plate.
“He did a great job just trying to square up the ball and put it into play,” Hulett said of Barto. “He’s a big strong guy and they came in on him, and he was able to muscle it over the first baseman’s head.”
Barto hopes the Indians broke through in more ways than one.
“Before the game we came together and had a good talk about some stuff,” Barto said. “Now’s the time we’re going to start pulling together and doing some things. We’ve always had the right components. It’s time now.”