The strangest play of the Northwest League season drew an extended argument from the Spokane Indians, although it turned out to be one of the few things that went right for the team on Thursday night.
The Indians committed four errors, all leading to runs, and fell out of first place in the NWL’s North Division after a 7-2 loss to the Tri-City Dust Devils at Avista Stadium.
Konner Wade, who entered the game with a 1-7 record, won his second consecutive start as the Dust Devils evened the three-game series at one apiece and defeated Spokane for just the second time in 11 games this season.
Everett (14-14 second half) defeated Vancouver 8-4 to knock the Indians (13-15) out of first place after 10 consecutive days. Tri-City and Vancouver, both 12-16, are two games back with 10 games left.
Although it didn’t affect the outcome, one play in the bottom of the third inning left fans, players and Indians staff members baffled all night.
The Indians, trailing 2-1, had the bases loaded with one out when Joe Jackson lined a shot toward right fielder Julian Yan. Television replays appeared to show that Yan caught the ball, but the umpires ruled that it was trapped.
Jackson stood on first base as Eduard Pinto, unsure of the ruling, scrambled back to first. The throw went to first base, then to third base to get Evan Van Hoosier, who had been at second. Gabe Roa tagged up from third and scored before Van Hoosier was tagged for the third out, although Roa didn’t have to tag.
“(The umpires) said they threw Jackson out a first base,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “Nobody else saw it that way, but that’s what they had, so in that sense, it was no longer a force out. That’s why we ended up getting the run, because (Roa) scored before they tagged (Van Hoosier) going to third base. … Actually, it kind of worked out in our favor. If he calls it a catch, Pinto’s probably out at first base and the run doesn’t score because it’s a double play. So I don’t want to argue too much.”
Starter Collin Wiles (2-5), who had walked one batter in his last 11 innings, walked the second and third batters of the game. The umpires then delayed the game after ruling that the mound was too wet.
After the grounds crew attended to the problem, Wilfredo Rodriguez singled to right field. Pinto threw a strong relay home, but catcher Jackson dropped the ball as Chris O’Dowd scored.
Wiles’ throwing error on a pickoff attempt at first base in the third set up the Dust Devils’ second run; two Indians outfield errors led to two fourth-inning runs and a 4-2 lead; and an infield fielding error helped contribute to a two-run seventh and 7-2 advantage.
“Wiles … threw five innings and got out of a couple of jams without his best stuff,” Hulett said. “But defensively, we just created bigger problems tonight.”