Spokane Indians designated hitter Brett Nicholas had never seen anything like it.
The Indians, down by four in the bottom of the ninth inning, staged an improbable five-run rally to overtake the Boise Hawks 8-7 in front of 3,273 Monday at Avista Stadium.
The victory moved Spokane to 16-15 and into a first-place tie with Tri-City in the Northwest League East Division standings. Boise slipped to 15-16.
“I’ve never been part of a game like that,” said Nicholas, whose two-run single tied it at 7. “We looked pretty bad for eight innings. To be able to get a big win like that, you can’t ask for anything more. They gave me a fastball and I was able to find a hole and help the team out.”
Indeed, it was an unsightly eight innings for the Indians before their remarkable comeback, which provided another reminder to early-exiting fans that it’s never over ’til it’s over. Much like the Spokane Shock arena football team, which won on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds Saturday night, the Indians provided a dramatic comeback victory.
In the ninth, Drew Robinson walked, Jorge Alfaro singled and Ruben Sierra walked to load the bases against pitcher Colin Richardson. Bryce Shafer replaced Richardson, but he hit Rougned Odor with a pitch and then threw a wild pitch as Spokane pulled within 7-5.
After a strikeout, Zach Cone walked to load the bases and Nicholas, the team leader with 29 RBIs, singled to right to even the score. Trever Adams lined a single to center to deliver the game-winner.
“We had other opportunities where we could have been a lot closer than four in the ninth, but you know what, I’ll take it,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “With just (seven) games (until the end of the first half of the season), to come back and get that win against a Boise team that we’re right in it with was big.”
It didn’t look good early. Indians starter David Perez walked three batters, hit two others and gave up a run-scoring single to Rafael Lopez to fall in a 3-0 hole in the first inning. Perez left without recording an out.
“He just couldn’t throw a strike,” Hulett said. “It was just one of those nights for him. Every pitcher goes through it.”
Reliever Leonel De Los Santos needed just one pitch to pick up two outs as Yaniel Cabezas lined out to second and Reggie Golden was doubled off first. De Los Santos ran into trouble in the second inning after hitting Zeke DeVoss with a pitch. DeVoss scored on a groundout and Paul Hoilman added an RBI single.
DeVoss, in his first game with the Hawks after being promoted from Mesa, scored four runs and swiped five bases.
Spokane committed four errors and its pitchers walked nine and hit four batters with pitches. One night after scoring five runs in the eighth only to lose on a walk-off homer to Everett, the Indians finished off the comeback against Boise.
“There’s never any give-up in us,” Nicholas said.