First prize: Soldier’s return
Midway through fourth inning of Monday night’s game, Abby Weichman, with her 4-year old twin daughters Gracie and Ruby by her side, successfully completed the Spokesman-Review newspaper toss promotion in front of the third base dugout.
The prize was Sgt. Chris Weichman, stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, waiting on the grass in front of the first base dugout with a bouquet of roses to surprise the family with his return from his third tour in Afghanistan.
As the girls cut across the infield, Yakima starter John Pedrotty stopped his warmups and, with his teammates, joined the standing ovation.
Oh, and about the game:
It’s not often a player is a two-time hero in one game but it happened to Guillermo Pimentel on Monday night.
The Spokane right fielder twice brought the Avista Stadium crowd of 4,005 to their feet, driving in a run with a two-out single in the sixth inning and throwing out the tying run at the plate to end the eighth, saving the Indians’ 1-0 win over Yakima.
“Both (were great),” the 21-year old from the Dominican Republic said with a big smile, “because I can help my team from both sides.”
The Indians (6-7) had leadoff runners on base four straight innings but couldn’t get anyone to third, so the Bears (4-8) helped out. Edwin Garcia reached base on a throwing error by second baseman Danny Pulfer. Then pitcher John Pedrotty threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt and Garcia raced to third.
However, Yefry Castillo struck out and Zack Cone grounded weakly to first ahead of Pimental.
“The whole series they didn’t throw me a fastball, they’ve been throwing me off-speed pitches,” Pimental said. “My focus was up the middle, see what happens. They threw me a slider in the middle and I hit it in the hole.”
That was it for Pedrotty (1-3), who gave up six of the Indians’ seven singles but struck out eight and walked just one.
“We played a couple solid nights of baseball, got great pitching, got a few more hits, but they had a good lefty on the mound,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “He mixed it up, you were going to have to hit an off-speed pitch with runners in scoring position and we didn’t get it done.
“He threw us all the way to third, which we were thankful for, and we had two guys in the middle of the lineup who couldn’t get it done but Pimentel picked them up.”
It was only the 12th RBI for Pimentel, who is hitting .300 in his third professional season.
“He’s been a consistent hitter all year,” Hulett said. “He hits both kinds of guys, he hits the hard throwers, he hits the soft throwers and he has a pretty good plan, too. He’s struggled a little bit lately, something like that can get him going again.”
The clutch run came one inning too late for Nick Martinez, who went five impressive innings, starting with all three hitters in the first inning called out on strikes. He allowed five hits and struck out seven with no walks.
“He’s got good command of his stuff,” Hulett said of the 18th-round draft choice out of Fordham. “He has four pitches and uses them all, really sets up hitters nice.”
David Perez (1-3) struck out the side in the sixth to get the win. Juan Gruillon took over in the seventh and in the eighth got into trouble. A leadoff walk was erased on what appeared to be a double play, that wasn’t called. Then Raul Navarro doubled to right center and Hulett brought in closer Matt West to face Garrett Weber.
Weber hit a fly to right center where Cone and Pimentel were waiting side-by-side. Pimentel made the play, his throw reaching Jose Alfaro on a line in plenty of time.
“I have a little more power in my arm,” Pimentel said. “The angle was better for my throw.”
Hulett agreed, adding, “He’s got a great arm. He throws a lot of guys out. He keeps the ball down and he gave Alfaro a good ball to catch. … You can’t say enough about Jorge for hanging in there. He knew he was going to get hit. It was a great play all around.”
The final game of this brief three-game homestand is tonight with a surprise for Indians fans. Kevin Matthews, Texas’ second first-round draft choice (33rd overall), will be the starter.
The 18-year old lefthander from Richmond Hills High in Georgia, had 12 strikeouts in 12 innings in seven appearances for the Arizona League Rangers.