The up-and-down nature of the 2012 Spokane Indians was on full display Saturday.
One night after stranding 17 base runners, the Indians managed just four hits and left three runners on base, two in the ninth inning. They committed back-to-back throwing errors, then escaped with a double play.
What Spokane couldn’t overcome was another punchless performance on offense and several costly defensive lapses as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes claimed a 5-2 Northwest League baseball win viewed by 4,967 at Avista Stadium.
The Indians (13-19 second half, 25-45 overall) were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Spokane has six games remaining, including its home finale against Salem-Keizer tonight.
The Volcanoes entered the series with the worst ERA in the NWL, but they’ve shut down Spokane’s bats. S-K has limited the Indians to just six runs while winning three of four in the five-game series.
“We didn’t get anything going and their guys threw a pretty good game,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “On the flip side, if they couldn’t get anything going we seemed to make an error so they could get something going. We had a rough night.”
Spokane jumped in front 2-0 in the first. Chris Garia led off with a double, swiped third and scored on catcher Dashenko Ricardo’s errant throw. Jake Skole, who walked and moved to third on Ricardo’s error, came home on Royce Bolinger’s groundout.
The Volcanoes tied it on Ryan Jones’ two-run double to right-center in the second.
“After we scored two they struck right back with two and it kind of got us down,” said Bolinger, who had three of Spokane’s four hits and the team’s lone RBI. “We have to be able to bounce back from that.”
Spokane’s defense ran hot and cold. After consecutive throwing errors put S-K runners on first and second with no outs in the third, starting pitcher Eric Brooks coaxed Mac Williamson to hit into a double play and then fanned Stephen Branca to end the threat.
In the fourth, shortstop Gabriel Roa made consecutive defensive gems. He tracked down Rafael Rodriguez’s hard grounder up the middle for one out and then went deep into the hole and zipped a throw to get Chuckie Jones at first by a half-step.
S-K moved in front 4-2 in the fifth, thanks to some help from the Indians. Jones singled off reliever Abel De Los Santos and Kentrell Hill dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. De Los Santos fired wildly past first base and the runners moved up to second and third. Jones scored on a passed ball and Hill scored on a wild pitch.
The Volcanoes added another run in the sixth. Branca doubled, moved to third on another De Los Santos wild pitch and scored on Rodriguez’s infield single.
“You put the pitchers in a bind,” Hulett said of the defensive issues. Spokane committed four errors.
Spokane put two runners on base in the ninth, but hard-throwing S-K reliever Stephen Johnson struck out Ryan Rua to earn his second save.
“He’s bringing it in pretty good and our (scoreboard) gun is a little off sometimes,” Hulett said. “He could be throwing 95, 96, 97 (mph).”