It took a season-long 5 hours and 4 minutes, but the Spokane Indians found a way to keep their postseason hopes brewing.
Ryan Strausborger’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right field with no one out in the 15th inning Wednesday gave the Indians a 5-4 win over Yakima to open a three-game series with the Bears at Avista Stadium.
Strausborger, in the game because Jared Hoying was ejected for arguing a strikeout in the ninth, scored Santiago Chirino from third.
Chirino hammered the first pitch from Keith Cantwell (3-2) for a double off the wall in left. Yakima (14-19) intentionally walked Jake Skole, and both runners moved up when Cantwell couldn’t get Kevin Rodland at first base after a bunt.
Spokane (18-14) remained one-half game behind Boise (19-14) in the quest for the Northwest League East Division first-half title and a playoff berth. Boise has five games left, Spokane six. If the teams tie, Boise owns the tiebreaker.
Yakima blew a chance to take the lead in the 14th. Leadoff hitter Raoul Torrez doubled off the left-field wall, just out of the reach of Strausborger. Torrez attempted to take third on Mike Freeman’s grounder to short but was thrown out. Third baseman Michael Olt then went high to stab Michael Weber’s liner and easily tossed over to first to double up Freeman.
Olt, the team’s homer leader, led off the 14th with a high, deep drive to left that stayed in the park.
Spokane took advantage of Yakima starter Enrique Burgos’ wildness to seize the lead with a two-run hitless second inning. Burgos, the league leader with 25 walks, had three walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter in the inning.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth. Chirino led off a double, his first extra-base hit as an Indian, and scored on Clark Murphy’s double-play grounder.
Josh Richmond’s first professional home run, a no-doubt blast to left-center with two out in the fifth, extended the lead to 4-0.
Spokane’s Nicholas McBride, who entered with a 6.93 earned-run average, made his seventh pro start his best. McBride pitched six scoreless innings, allowing four singles, striking out four and walking one.
Second baseman Chirino and right fielder Richmond made defensive plays to support McBride’s scoreless night. Chirino, with a runner at third base in the third, gloved Westley Moss’ grounder up the middle and rolled the ball to shortstop Jurickson Profar for an inning-ending forceout at second. Richmond threw out Raywilly Gomez at third base after Freeman’s no-out single in the fifth.
Spokane’s defense slipped up during Yakima’s two-run seventh, as defensive whiz Profar made two fielding errors to open the door to unearned runs off Andrew Doyle.
Doyle, who pitched in 14 games for Spokane last season and was just assigned to the team, left the bases loaded by striking out Bears hitting leader Roberto Ortiz.
Yakima tied the game in the eighth, which began with Zach Walters’ second homer of the season. Doyle and Colby Killian, who relieved with one out, had trouble finding the plate. Freeman, aboard with a walk, scored on a two-out walk to Justin Hilt. Moss struck out to leave the bases loaded again.
The Bears also left the bases loaded in the 10th when Moss lined to Chirino.
West Division first-half champion Everett is 4-6 against Spokane and 19-3 against the rest of the league. … Spokane, minus two pitchers because of injuries, added right-handers Doyle and Tim Steggall to its roster. … Ben Henry will make his first start for Spokane tonight. He’s filling in for Juan Grullon (finger blister). … Former Washington State University player Weber played third base for Yakima. … Spokane passed 75,000 in season attendance.