If Spokane ends up being just a stop on his way to the show – if Patrick Cantwell never graduates from minor league baseball – he’ll always have something major to remember.
And in his debut at Avista Stadium on a rainy Tuesday night, the Spokane Indians’ newest addition – fresh off helping the Stony Brook University Seawolves on the school’s unprecedented run to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. – gave an announced crowd of 2,912 something to remember.
“Welcome to Spokane, Pat, you won’t be here long but we’re happy to have you,” a fan said after the game to Cantwell, who drove in the go-ahead run with a two-RBI double down the left-field line in the fourth inning to help the Indians to a 3-1 Northwest League victory over Boise.
“That’s certainly a great way to make your pro debut,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He had a big hit and he did a real great job behind the plate for us.”
Cantwell, a star catcher at Stony Brook, was picked by the Texas Rangers in the third round of this year’s MLB draft.
The talented Seawolves – representing a program that has been at the NCAA Division I level for only 12 years – were dubbed the darlings at the College World Series after beating LSU to qualify.
“When he got here, I asked him about it,” said Hulett, who coaches high school baseball in Louisiana in the Indians’ offseason.
“I had to let him know that I’m from Louisiana and there might be some consequences for that one,” Hulett joked.
Though the Seawolves’ run in Omaha was brief – they lost their first two games – Cantwell estimated to the New York Times that he saw 10,000 people wearing Stony Brook red in the stands while his team took batting practice.
“If I don’t get to ever make it to the big leagues … I’m sure that this will be the closest thing to playing on a professional baseball team,” he told the New York Times. “I think I would be OK with that.”
For now, though, he’s more than OK with being in Spokane (4-8), which won its third consecutive game to force a three-way tie for second with Boise and Tri-City in the NWL East Division standings. Yakima leads the division with a 6-6 record.
“We got good pitching tonight,” Hulett said. “We made some good plays and we missed a few, but our pitching picked us up.”
John Kukuruda (1-1) made his third start, striking out four and scattering two hits over five innings to earn his first win this season for Spokane. The right-hander didn’t allow any earned runs and improved his ERA to 1.50.
Cody Kendall relieved Kukuruda in the sixth, and held the lead – striking out two and allowing just one hit in two innings before Alec Asher pitched a hitless eighth and ninth and earned the save.
“Even with the conditions, we played great defense,” Cantwell said. “There were a lot of great plays by (shortstop Gabriel Roa) and everybody contributed.”
The final game of the three-game homestand with Boise is this afternoon at Avista Stadium with a 3:30 start time.