The bats of the Spokane Indians once again remained silent far too long at Avista Stadium on Monday night.
And the Indians paid for their early lack of pop at the plate with yet another Northwest League setback, this one an 11-6 loss to East Division-leading Tri-City.
Spokane (3-7), after spotting the Dust Devils (8-2) a nine-run lead, teased a crowd of 3,129 by batting around and scoring six times in the bottom of the eighth inning. But the comeback attempt failed to prevent the Indians from being tagged with their fifth consecutive loss.
“It’s tough,” admitted former Washington State University standout Jared Prince, who was used as a designated hitter and contributed a two-run double to Spokane’s big eighth inning. “We keep letting teams put a big spot up early, and we’re having trouble clawing our way back.
“It’s never easy when you have to dig yourselves out of a hole like that, but this team has shown some resiliency in coming back and putting up a fight. We just need to learn how to win.”
Tri-City picked up three runs off Spokane starter Kyle Ocampo (0-1) in the second inning on just two hits. And the Dust Devils did even more damage in the fifth, when they chased Ocampo by bunching together five hits – including a solo home run by Michael Zuanich – to score four more times and build a 7-0 lead.
They added two more runs in top of the eighth on a run-scoring triple by Joseph Sanders and a wild pitch, and then answered Spokane’s outburst in the bottom of the inning with two meaningless runs – the last of which came on Zuanich’s second home run of the game, a solo shot to left field.
Indians manager Tim Hulett admitted the big inning has given his team trouble.
“We actually pitch pretty well, but we have innings, it seems, where we just blow up,” he said. “Whether it’s pitching or defense, everybody just seems to fall apart that one inning, and it’s tough to come back from something like that.”
Especially when you’re facing pitchers as good as the first two Tri-City sent to the mound on this night.
“Those first two guys were a couple of buzz saws,” Hulett said of Dust Devils starter Rob Scahill and reliever Wes Musick, who each threw three shutout innings and combined for 11 strikeouts, while allowing only one hit. “But once we got into their ’pen, we were able to get back in the game.
“Anytime you’re within a swing of the bat or two from tying the game that’s a pretty good effort – consider we were down 9-0 at one time.”
Third baseman Emmanuel Solis, who came into the game hitting just .138, had a pair of hits for Spokane, including a solo homer leading off the eighth.