As the Spokane Indians polished off another win over Everett, it dawned on Justin Earls that the night held special significance for him.
Earls (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief Tuesday to pick up his first professional win as the Indians rallied for a 6-2 decision over the AquaSox at Avista Stadium.
“I didn’t even realize it until I was thinking about it in the ninth inning,” said the University of Georgia product. “Then I said, ‘I think I was the pitcher of record.’ ”
Spokane (4-7) won its third consecutive game and clinched the series win over the AquaSox (8-4) as the teams prepare to close the five-game set tonight.
Earls entered the game in the fifth inning with the Indians trailing 2-0. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced but was perfect after that.
Earls, a left-hander, had 61 relief appearances during his last two years with Georgia. Although his earned-run average hovered in the 7.00 range, his specialty was throwing strikes. Earls walked just two batters in 37 innings during the just-completed season.
Earls also made two appearances at the College World Series finals as a sophomore, as the Bulldogs lost to Fresno State.
“I’ll never forget that,” Earls said. “Obviously, I would have liked to have won it. Especially watching it on TV makes me think about it.”
Tuesday’s game turned in Earls’ favor on one big play in the sixth, after Spokane cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Jason Kudlock and Yefry Castillo.
With Michael Olt on first base with one out, Danny Lima’s potential inning-ending double-play grounder went through the legs of Everett second baseman Terry Serrano. Andrew Clark tied the game with an RBI groundout, and Kevin Rodland put Spokane ahead for good with an RBI single to left.
Spokane added three runs in the seventh. Kudlock led off with a single and gave way to pinch-runner Guillermo Pimentel, who later scored by plowing over Everett catcher Steven Baron.
It was the latest play in a slightly contentious series, with collisions at several bases and four batters hit by pitches.
“You always want to beat the best teams, and they came in (to Spokane) with the best record,” said Indians manager Tim Hulett.
Hulett said he didn’t deliver a big speech after Spokane dropped seven of its first eight games.
“You try to save your big bullets for the right time,” he said.
“It’s so early, I just felt like we had a good squad, so if we just played solid baseball we were going to get the wins.”
Spokane passed 25,000 in attendance with a crowd of 4,144. No NWL team is close to Spokane in attendance. … Everett left fielder Kevin Rivers is among the top three in NWL batting average, slugging percentage, total bases, hits and RBIs. … The Indians have eight pitchers who haven’t allowed an earned run.