With Monday marking the halfway point in the Northwest League season, as well as the first opportunity to earn a playoff berth, every game of the four-game set with Tri-City is a must win for the Spokane Indians.
The Indians (20-15) made the most of their first opportunity against the Dust Devils (16-19), erupting for six runs on five consecutive hits in the seventh inning to push them to an 11-4 win in front of 6,157 fans at Avista Stadium.
The win, coupled with Boise’s 6-5, 11-inning loss at Yakima, gave Spokane a 11/2-game lead over the Hawks in the East Division.
Boise (19-17) has games tonight and Monday at Yakima. Spokane hosts Tri-City for a doubleheader tonight and a single game Monday. If the teams tie for first place, Boise owns the tiebreaker.
For the second night in a row, it was left fielder Jared Hoying who put Spokane ahead for up front for good.
Following Ryan Strausborger’s RBI single, Hoying ripped a two-out, two run triple to right-center field to give the Indians a 5-3 lead. Jurickson Profar, who went 4 for 5 with two runs and an RBI, scored Hoying with a single. Two batters later, Andrew Clark pulled a pitch down the right-field line for a two-RBI double and an 8-3 lead.
“We haven’t been hitting the ball real well lately, we’ve just been hitting it right at people,” said Hoying, who added a three-run home run in the eighth inning to push the advantage to eight. “Something just busted loose, and once we bust loose it’s contagious. We all just want to hit and it’s a fight to the bat rack.”