Tyler Horan took Friday night off after Spokane Indians pitchers made Thursday an unpleasant evening for him.
It would have helped the Indians’ cause if Horan had also rested on Saturday night.
Horan hit his first professional home run – a two-run, opposite-field shot to left field – to cap a four-run eighth inning as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes rallied past the Spokane Indians 6-5 before a sold-out crowd of 7,048 at Avista Stadium.
Horan, who struck out four times on Thursday, lined his homer on a 2-0 fastball from fourth Indians pitcher Keone Kela (0-1). The blast scored Brian Ragira, whose two-run double had cut Spokane’s lead to 5-4. Horan and Ragira finished with three RBIs apiece.
“(Kela’s) a hard-throwing guy and it was an outside pitch, so you just try to hit it that way,” Horan said.
The Volcanoes’ comeback came after Spokane batted around during a five-run seventh to lead 5-2. The Volcanoes hold a 3-1 advantage in the series heading in to this afternoon’s finale, the last game before the Northwest League’s All-Star break.
Kela entered with an earned-run average of 1.23 in 71/3 innings. Four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning later, his ERA ballooned to 5.63.
“Kela’s our late-inning guy,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He’s really our closer, but sometimes he closes in the seventh and eighth inning and that’s why he was out there tonight. He just had one of those nights. I’d give him the ball again tomorrow night under those same circumstances.”
Horan, a native of Massachusetts, played four seasons at Virginia Tech before San Francisco drafted him in the eighth round in June. He played 13 games for the Giants’ team in the Arizona Rookie League before joining the Volcanoes.
His first pro homer came on his 138th at-bat.
“I’ve had a few that have made it to the (warning) track, but it’s just a matter of time before you end up getting one out,” Horan said.
Kela’s problems started with one out, when he hit Randy Ortiz with a pitch and walked Tyler Hollick. Although he is 1 for 7 in the series, Hollick has walked six times and scored six runs.
“We know (Hollick) doesn’t swing the bat and we’re still having trouble throwing him strikes,” Hulett said.
Ragira’s second double of the night rocketed off the right-field fence to score Ortiz and Hollick.
“We had our guys on and the heart of our order coming up,” Horan said. “Brian … started the momentum and got us in the groove.”
The Indians batted around in their seventh, collecting four singles and a double to energize the crowd after six shutout innings. Jamie Jarmon walked with the bases loaded; two runs scored on Eduard Pinto’s infield single and an error by shortstop John Polonius; and Cam Schiller extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-run double to right-center.
Left-handed pitcher Luis Pollorena joined the Indians, promoted from the Arizona Rookie League. The former Mississippi State pitcher signed a free-agent contract this year. He was 0-0 with a 1.04 ERA in seven games and 82/3 innings at the AZL.