Preston Beck knows how to handle life throwing him a curveball. He also knows what to do when faced with the real thing.
The Dallas native and Spokane Indians outfielder, who played college ball just a few minutes from the Texas Rangers’ ballpark in Arlington, was 2 for 5 with an RBI double Sunday as Spokane picked up its first win of the season in a 7-3 Northwest League victory over the Vancouver Canadians (2-1) in front of 4,803 fans at Avista Stadium.
“He made some adjustments tonight and scorched the ball,” said Tim Hulett, who earned his 200th win as the Indians’ manager.
Beck, who played at the University of Texas-Arlington, was happy to be drafted by the Rangers in the fifth round of this year’s MLB draft. He was also surprised, as he was told by the New York Yankees he would be their fifth-round pick.
“I didn’t hear from the Rangers so I was sitting there waiting for the Yankees’ number to come up, and Texas had the pick right before them,” Beck said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all, but I’m sure happy to play for the Rangers and be up here in Washington.”
Beck isn’t the only one who is pleased to be in Spokane.
He was one of three Spokane (1-2) players with multiple hits in Sunday’s win, driving in Hirotoshi Onaka – who was 1 for 1 with four walks and three runs – on an RBI double in the first inning.
“He didn’t just get hits, he got them in key situations,” Hulett said.
Beck’s solid situational hitting was combined with a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance from Ryan Rua and a Gabriel Roa’s 2-for-3 effort, including Spokane’s first home run of the season in the second.
“It’s not that he got his first home run, it’s that he got a hit after that. Sometimes a little guy gets a home run and he thinks he’s a home run hitter,” Hulett joked. “But he really did a good job and we had some pretty good table setting today with Onaka.
“And Rua … it’s good to see him have a nice start like this. In extended spring training he was a man among boys, he really dominated.
“He was great for us tonight.”
Spokane’s pitchers were also solid.
Starter Connor Sadzeck struck out four in four innings, allowing one run and one hit, and reliever David Perez worked three innings and picked up the win. Perez struck out six, walked four and allowed two hits and one run.
Josh McElwee and Alec Asher combined to strike out five batters in the final two innings.
“We pitched ahead and that was the key factor,” Hulett said. “I liked everything I saw. We played solid defense, the pitchers did a good job going after hitters, and offensively it was a great night for us.”
After a rough start for the NWL’s East Division, which saw all four teams lose their first two games, the Indians are now in a three-way tie for first with Tri-City and Yakima.
“We had a little talk in there before the game, and I said, ‘Guys, we’re playing for first place right now,’ ” Hulett said. “We had fun with it. You can build on a game like this for sure.”
The five-game series resumes tonight at Avista Stadium.