The Spokane Indians don’t figure to win many baseball games with home-run power, but they do figure to give teams trouble in extra innings.
Barrett Serrato muscled up in the bottom of the 11th inning Wednesday night with a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer to right field to sink the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 6-4 at Avista Stadium.
The homer, off Daniel Slania (0-1), barely escaped the reaches of right fielder Tyler Horan and gave the Indians a 5-2 record in extra innings this Northwest League season.
“I didn’t think it was going to carry,” said Serrato, who finished 3 for 5 to lift his batting average to .181. “I thought I got it off the barrel. It looked like it was hanging up, but fortunately it ended up getting out.”
“I know he hit it OK,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He said he didn’t get all of it. But here, you don’t need all of it, you just need enough of it.”
Janluis Castro added a three-run homer, also to right, in the first inning to stake the Indians to a 3-1 lead.
Castro, the team’s RBI leader with 26, has three homers this season and Serrato has two. Spokane has hit 19 homers in 47 games, but four were by former leadoff hitter/center fielder Chris Garia, who was just promoted to Hickory (N.C.) of the South Atlantic League.
“Whoever bats leadoff now is going to have to get on base and we have to get them over and score runs,” said Serrato, who is listed as a first baseman but played left field on Wednesday. “Garia was a big part of our offense, but luckily he got to move up.”
The Indians stranded runners at second base in the ninth and 10th. Slania hit Marcus Greene with a pitch to open the 11th, and Castro was on first base with a fielder’s choice when Serrato kept the game from heading to the 12th.
“I think we’re good in extra innings because we’re not the type of team that goes up there and tries to win the game with a home run,” Hulett said. … “But tonight we got it by the home run and I’ll take it.”
Volcanoes manager Gary Davenport was ejected in the top of the 11th when home-plate umpire Kirk Struble called out Blake Miller to end the inning with Horan at second base. Struble ruled that Miller ignored his call to get back in the batter’s box.
Indians relievers Ryne Slack, Keone Kela and Justin Sprenger (2-2) combined for six innings of three-hit, shutout ball, striking out 10 and walking one. Slack struck out five in three innings.
The second game of the five-game series is tonight. The Indians, of the North Division, and South Division first-half champ S-K are both 4-5 in the second half.
Outfielder Eduard Pinto has been added to Spokane’s roster. Pinto, a Venezuelan, signed a free-agent contract last year and was hitting .315 at the Arizona Rookie League when he was promoted. … Indians outfielder Ryan Cordell was added to the roster for Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Everett after original pick Chris Garia was promoted. Cordell is batting .222 with nine doubles. … The Indians have completed their season series with Boise. Spokane finished 6-4 against the Hawks.