Spokane’s checklist for Sunday’s Northwest League baseball finale: A victory to cap a successful second half of the season, pick up a couple of individual honors and enjoy the post-game fireworks show.
The Indians accomplished all of it, routing the Yakima Bears 11-2 in front of 5,327 at Avista Stadium, and Spokane’s Jason Ogata claimed the NWL batting title with a 2-for-3 night.
Ogata, who entered the contest at .362 and trailing Yakima’s Ryan Wheeler (.363), had both of his hits in a seven-run fourth. He exited the game after the inning with a .366 average. Wheeler was promoted to South Bend about two weeks ago.
“I was trying to relax up there, but of course it was on my mind,” Ogata said. “I was just trying to take good swings and if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. Being from the northwest, it’s kind of neat to add to my résumé.”
Meanwhile, Spokane pitcher Trevor Hurley earned his seventh victory, one behind league-leader Craig Bennigson of Tri-City. Hurley also struck out 10 to give him 77 on the season, moving into the top five in the NWL.
“He’s had good outing after good outing,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He’s kind of our veteran guy. I’m glad he got the last start.”
Spokane, once 12 games under .500, finished 37-39, including 22-16 at home. Yakima ended 28-48.
“I feel very good about how the second half went,” Hulett said. “The guys really matured and developed as players and as a team. Really a great group of guys.”
Hurley (7-2) breezed through the first five batters before Matt Helm crushed a solo home run with two outs in the second. Spokane’s Tomas Telis matched Helm with a solo homer in the bottom of the second.
Aside from Telis’s homer, Yakima starter Randy Hamrick was virtually unhittable early. Of Spokane’s first nine outs, seven were by strikeout.
That all changed in the fourth inning. Ogata singled, Jared Prince was hit by a pitch and Telis singled to load the bases with no outs. Clark Murphy, Danny Lima and Michael Ortiz hit run-scoring singles to chase Hamrick.
Edward Martinez lifted a fly to left that went for a long single off the fence because the runners had to hold in case the ball was caught. Ortiz moved to third on a double play and scored on a wild pitch. Joe Bonadonna started another rally with a single and scored on Ogata’s triple. The inning finally ended when center fielder Tyrell Worthington ran down Prince’s deep fly ball.
Hurley gave up only three hits in seven innings. Spokane finished with 11 hits.
“That’s about as good as it gets,” Hulett said. “The guys swung the bats well and the pitching was great again.”
Indians 11, Bears 2
|Van Winkle c||2||0||0||0||0||2||.244|
E—Canelo (1), Aguila (1), O’Conner (1). DP—Yakima 2. LOB—Yakima 2, Spokane 3. 3B—Canelo (1), Ogata (1), Lima (1). HR—Helm (1), Telis (2). SB—Martinez (10).
|Hamrick L, 2-4||3||6||7||7||0||7||6.47|
HBP—Martinez (by Hamrick). Prince (by Hamrick), Ortiz (by Thieroff). WP—Quezada, Thieroff, Gunter. PB—Aguila (3). T—2:13. A—5,327.