Eugene’s six-run 9th beats Spokane Indians
The Spokane Indians dodged Wes Cunningham’s home run and triple, but the walks he and his teammates drew were a different matter.
Cunningham walked twice during the Eugene Emeralds’ six-run ninth inning Saturday night as Spokane suffered a rare meltdown at Avista Stadium during a 10-4 Northwest League setback.
Cunningham, a first baseman from Louisville, Ky., opened the ninth by walking against Justin Earls (1-3). He came up later in the inning and drew an RBI walk from Francisco Mendoza.
When the dust settled, Spokane pitchers had issued 11 walks, including three to Cunningham. Worse yet, the Indians piled up all of those walks in the final 31/3 innings.
“It looked like their pitchers kind of started pressing there a little bit,” Cunningham said.
Spokane had lost just eight of its previous 31 games at home. By winning the second game of the five-game series, Eugene (4-3) is the only NWL team with a winning record against the Indians.
“I think it’s just been the right time for us and not the right time for them,” Cunningham said. “It’s just been a matter of putting it together.”
Cunningham blasted a two-run homer to right field in the third inning on Tim Stanford’s off-speed pitch for a 2-0 lead. Cunningham leads the power-starved Emeralds with three homers.
Cunningham also tripled off Stanford in the fifth, but he became one of six Emeralds baserunners stranded at third base on the night.
“You don’t want to leave a guy on base, but sometimes you don’t get the pitch you can do something with,” Cunningham said.
Stanford and Eugene starter Matt Branham both worked five innings and gave up their share of hits, but neither walked a batter.
The Indians knocked around Branham for a three-run third, as Ryan Strausborger, Jake Skole and Michael Olt had RBI hits.
Eugene tied the game at 3 in the fourth. Rymar Liriano lashed his league-best sixth triple to lead off the inning and scored on Paul Bingham’s squeeze bunt when Stanford tried to make a play at home.
As a short drizzle fell in the fifth, Spokane handed Stanford a 4-3 lead after Jurickson Profar led off with a single. Profar moved along on Kellin Deglan’s single, Strausborger’s sacrifice and Skole’s RBI grounder.
Stanford, who entered with a 4-0 record and 1.35 earned-run average, allowed seven hits and three earned runs.
Eugene tied the score as a quick dust storm blew through in the seventh. Geuris Grullon walked leadoff hitter Tyler Stubblefield and later allowed him to score the tying run on a wild pitch.
Emeralds relievers Aaron Everett (4-2) and Robert Sabo shut down the Indians for the final two innings.
Eugene’s drawn-out ninth included four singles, four walks and one hit batter.
Indians cleanup hitter Jared Hoying went 0 for 3 to end his 16-game hitting streak.
Olt’s two singles increased his hitting streak to eight.