The kid from Spokane pushed his hometown Indians closer to playoff elimination.
Tyler Olson, who played at Gonzaga University after starring at University High, pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings to earn his first professional save Wednesday as the Everett AquaSox opened a three-game series at Avista Stadium with a 4-2 win over the Indians.
“The whole experience is awesome,” said the left-hander, a seventh-round draft selection by the Seattle Mariners in June. “To get an ovation when I first came in, just because everyone knows I’m from Spokane, was a treat.”
Everett, the Northwest League’s North Division first-half champion, improved to 19-14 in the second half with its eighth consecutive win. The Indians (15-18 second half) could advance to the postseason by completing the season with five consecutive wins over the AquaSox to capture the second-half title.
The Indians’ other possible playoff route is to have a better overall record than Vancouver. Spokane is 35-36 and Vancouver is 36-35 after falling 4-3 to Tri-City.
Olson began his pro career as a starter, but Everett moved him to the bullpen after eight starts because of the number of innings he worked last spring at Gonzaga.
He didn’t pitch for the AquaSox during their previous trip to Spokane, June 14-16 to open the season.
Olson relieved Jake Zokan (5-3) after Spokane right fielder Ryan Cordell hit his team-leading fifth home run, a two-run shot to right, with two outs in the seventh to trim Everett’s lead to 3-2.
With 12 family members and several former GU teammates watching, Olson allowed a single to the first batter he faced, Janluis Castro, before ending the seventh with Jamie Jarmon’s fly to right.
Olson, given insurance by an AquaSox run in the eighth, worked a perfect bottom of the inning. He walked Marcus Greene to begin the bottom of the ninth, but ended the game by striking out Cordell with Greene on second. Cordell first appeared to reach first base on a strikeout/wild pitch, but home-plate umpire Jon Felczak ruled otherwise.
“(Felczak) said the ball hit the batter on the checked swing,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “That makes it a dead ball, so (Cordell) can’t advance to first base. … I don’t know if he swung or not. It looked more like he was trying to get out of the way to me.”
Jack Reinheimer and Austin Wilson carried Everett’s offensive load, both hitting solo homers and driving in two runs.
Indians starter Collin Wiles (2-6) surrendered Reinheimer’s homer with one out in the first. Reinheimer blasted a 1-2 pitch for his second homer in 229 at-bats as a pro.
Wiles picked off Kyle Petty at first to end the second inning, but his similar attempt on Reinheimer in the fourth bounced away from first baseman Cam Schiller and moved the Everett shortstop to third base on a two-base error. Wilson roped a one-out RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.
Hulett momentarily disputed Wilson’s sixth homer of the season, a liner to right to lead off the seventh.
“(First-base umpire Christopher Lloyd) said it hit the pole,” Hulett said. “That’s a long way for me to see. The trajectory of the ball bounced up, so most likely it did hit the pole.”
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