EVERETT – It must be said that the Spokane Indians had their chances Saturday night.
Spokane had 12 hits, drew five walks and saw the Everett AquaSox commit four errors, but it still wasn’t enough.
Spokane stranded 15 runners and failed to wrap up the Northwest League championship series, losing Game 2 of the best-of-3 series 4-3 in front of 951 fans at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The league title will come down to today’s decisive Game 3, scheduled for 6:05 p.m. at Everett. The Indians will send right-hander Carlos Melo to the mound against AquaSox lefty Anthony Fernandez.
Spokane, seeking its ninth NWL championship and second in three years, had at least one base runner in every inning, and had at least two in six innings. In the third and the sixth innings, the Indians loaded the bases with two outs only to strike out to end the threats.
“We had a lot of chances,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “We’ve won a lot of games because we’ve come through in those situations. It’s one of those games where we didn’t get the big hit, and (Everett) did a good job of pitching.”
Neither team hit many balls well, but unlike Spokane’s, Everett’s were timely and well placed. The AquaSox, going after their first NWL title in 25 years, had eight hits against six Spokane pitchers, but only one went for extra bases.
The biggest came in the seventh, when Evan Sharpley bounced a high chopper between first and second and into right field, driving in Terry Serrano with two outs for the eventual winner.
That came on the heels of the Indians tying the score in the top half of the seventh when pinch-runner Oduber Herrera raced home on a Jurickson Profar fielder’s choice.
“(Spokane) had bloopers, balls that were right there and that’s part of the game,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said. “When that happens against you, you don’t know what to do, but our pitchers were getting ahead.”
Kellin Deglan led off the ninth with a single against Everett closer Tyler Burgoon and went to second on a sacrifice bunt.
But Jake Skole and Profar followed with groundouts to shortstop to end the game.
No Spokane pitcher went more than 2 1/3 innings, with Ryan Rodebaugh getting the loss after allowing Sharpley’s go-ahead single.
“We hadn’t hit the ball that well this season,” Hulett said. “So to have 12 hits, we didn’t get the big hit, but we swung the bats well. I was pretty pleased, and our pitchers pitched great again. That’s a pretty good-hitting team (Everett) puts out there.”
Spokane jumped to an early lead against Everett starter Jandy Sena when Jared Hoying, Michael Olt and Andrew Clark had three straight singles to stake the Indians to a 1-0 lead.
Everett answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning against Spokane starter Tim Stanford, as Serrano doubled and came home on a Hawkins Gebbers single.
Spokane took the lead back in the second when Hoying drove in Skole with a double, but Profar was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Sharpley came through in the fifth, singling to center to drive in Serrano and Keith Rivers for a 3-2 lead.