You never forget your first. Ryan Rua liked his so much on Tuesday night that he just may make a habit of it.
Maybe next time the Spokane Indians will have something to show for it.
The first baseman homered for the first time this season in the final contest of the five-game homestand – his second home run at Avista Stadium to go with one last season – but again Spokane made costly errors and the Vancouver Canadians won the Northwest League matchup 7-1 in front of 4,315 fans.
Rua – an Amherst, Ohio, native – was also the first player in the history of Lake Erie College (NCAA Division II) baseball drafted into the majors. The Texas Rangers, Spokane’s parent franchise, took Rua in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB first-year player draft.
“It was kind of overwhelming,” Rua recalled. “But my coach there instilled a lot in me and helped me out a lot. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Neither could Indians manager Tim Hulett, who was pleased with Rua’s 6-for-17 (.353) performance at the plate in the five-game series, which included two doubles, a pair of RBIs and just one strikeout.
“He swung the bat well in this series,” Hulett said. “He did great at spring training and in extended spring and we really knew coming in that he was probably going to be our best hitter and I think he showed it.”
As a team, however, the Indians struggled throughout the series to get hits against the Canadians (4-1). Spokane (1-4) batted .168 (26 for 155) – which ranks sixth in the eight-team league.
“It’s a little disappointing in the sense that we didn’t swing the bats as well as we’d like to see,” Hulett said. “You want to try to get a feel for your guys, but I realize some of these guys haven’t hit in a while. There’s more in the tank, we just have to see it.”
He’s hoping he’ll see it starting tonight, when Spokane plays its first road game of the season in the first of a five-game series at Everett against the AquaSox.
“I think it’ll create team unity on the bus and being in the hotel and traveling together and not being under the really bright lights of playing at home,” Hulett said. “Hopefully, this will loosen them up a little bit.”
After Vancouver took a 1-0 lead in the third, Rua’s solo home run to right field tied things up in the seventh.
But with two outs and runners on first and second, Indians second baseman Cam Schiller let Daniel Arcila’s routine grounder get past, and right fielder Royce Bolinger followed with a throwing error, allowing two unearned runs.
Vancouver scored once more in the inning to take a 4-1 lead when catcher Joe Maloney made a throwing error trying to pick off Arcila at third.
“It just kind of snowballed after that,” Hulett said. “We were in the game, but when it’s 1-1, you have to put up a zero in the frame so you can keep the momentum going and maybe come back and score some more runs and win the game.”
The Canadians picked up three more runs in the ninth.
“It’s the first series, it’ll come around,” Rua said. “I think the nerves will shake out after this. We’re still trying to figure each other out a little bit.”
“That’s the first step,” Hulett added.