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 1 1/2-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 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.”
The win puts the Indians squarely in control of their destiny and put to rest any first-half playoff aspirations by the Dust Devils, who were eliminated with the loss.
Today’s rare doubleheader, necessary because of June 20 rainout, will start at 5:30. Both games are set for seven innings.
“It’ll be a long day, but if we can get away with two wins we’ll be right in the driver’s seat,” Hoying said. “The way we see it we can take advantage of it and get two wins hopefully.”
Spokane will be hoping for the same offensive firepower, which made a winner Saturday of Colby Killian (1-0), who went one inning, striking out two and allowing no hits and no runs.
His effort came in relief of Miguel De Los Santos, who needed little help in his five innings. De Los Santos allowed no runs on one hit and striking out 12 with two walks.
The Dust Devils roughed up reliever Tim Steggall for three hits and two runs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
Profar broke a 0-for-20 slump over the last five games with four hits against Tri-City. … De Los Santos’ 12 strikeouts were the most by an Indians pitcher this season and put him atop the league in strikeouts with 50.
Indians 11, Dust Devils 4
E—Garneau (4), Simon (1), Olt (7), Profar (8). LOB—Tri-City 11, Spokane 4. 2B—Garneau (6), Wilson (4), Clark (5), Profar (10). 3B—Hoying (2). HR—Massanari (5), Hoying (5). SB—Skole (2). CS—Wilson (6). GIDP—Clark. DP—Tri-City 1.
|Federico L, 1-2||1.2||4||4||4||0||1||5.40|
|M.De Los Santos||5.0||1||0||0||2||12||1.69|
|Steggall BS, 1||1.0||3||2||2||1||1||6.75|
|Killian W, 1-0||1.0||0||0||0||1||2||3.09|
HBP—by Cabrera (Hoying). WP—M.De Los Santos, Earls. IR-S—Vopinek 1-1, Killian 1-0. T—3:04. A—6,157.