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Castro home run lifts Indians to victory

Janluis Castro heads to the Northwest League All-Star Game with a modest .243 batting average, but he’s made the most of his 41 hits with the Spokane Indians.

Castro’s one-out solo home run to right field in the eighth inning Sunday allowed the Indians to snap a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes that capped a five-game series at Avista Stadium.

Castro, a 19-year-old from Trujillo, Puerto Rico, leads the Indians with four homers and 29 runs batted in. His winner came on an inside fastball from third Volcanoes pitcher Juan Nova (0-1) and was the Indians’ fourth and final hit of the day.

“(Manager Tim Hulett) tells me every at-bat just to stay short, stay short,” Castro said. “Hit the ball, hit the ball. The homer, if you have a lucky day, it will happen.”

“Hopefully, he doesn’t get too enamored with hitting home runs,” Hulett said of the 5-foot-8, 166-pound infielder. “Usually, it’s because the pitcher makes a bad pitch … but he’s been swinging the bat really well for us.”

Except for three players, the Indians will take a three-day break for the second NWL All-Star Game in history. The Indians’ other representatives to Tuesday’s game in Everett are pitchers David Ledbetter and Eric Brooks.

Castro said he was honored to make the team and pointed to hard work as the reason.

“I just play my game, hit the ball and play for the team,” Castro said.

Pitchers ruled the day on both sides.

Spokane’s Kelvin Vasquez, making his ninth start, pitched six innings of two-hit ball but trailed 1-0 when he exited. Blake Miller hit a long, high homer to left field off Vasquez leading off the second, the first professional blast for the Salem, Ore., native.

“We tell the guys, solo home runs don’t beat you,” Hulett said. “Walks and then a home run beat you.”

Vasquez retired 10 consecutive Volcanoes after Tyler Hollick’s bunt single to lead off the third.

S-K starter Armando Paniagua threw three scoreless innings and Cameron McVey followed with three perfect innings. The two combined to retire 12 consecutive Indians.

Indians designated hitter Joe Jackson broke the hitless streak with a one-out triple to right-center off Nova in the seventh. Jackson scored when first baseman Miller couldn’t handle the relay on a potential inning-ending double play.

Left-hander Luis Pollorena, who arrived in Spokane on Friday, earned the win by stranding a runner at third base in the seventh and striking out the side in the eighth.

“You have to take advantage of opportunities and that’s what I had today,” Pollorena said. … “It paid off, striking out the side. I felt like it gave us a little boost.”

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