Indians hold on twice for wins over Boise
Tim Hulett gave Collin Wiles the last few pitches he needed.
Chris Garia gave Wiles the last great defensive play he needed.
Wiles (1-1) became the first Spokane Indians starter to record a victory Saturday night when he pitched five sharp innings during a 3-2 win over the Boise Hawks in the first game of a Northwest League doubleheader sweep at Avista Stadium.
The outcome snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the Indians (3-6) their first home win after four previous tries.
Spokane held off Boise 4-3 in the second game as starter Ryne Slack struck out six in 32/3 innings and Hirotashi Onaka had a two-run single during a three-run second.
Both games were seven innings.
The Indians staked Wiles to a 3-0 lead in the opener with back-to-back RBI singles by Marcus Greene and Gabe Roa in the second inning and Janluis Castro’s ground-rule RBI double to left in the third.
Wiles was on the ropes in the fifth after allowing Justin Marra’s solo homer to right field with one out and Danny Lockhart’s single with two outs. Wiles had set down eight consecutive batters before the homer.
“He actually had three pitches (left) going into the last hitter and usually we’d probably take him out, but I wanted him to get a shot at (the win),” Indians manager Hulett said.
The last batter Wiles faced, leadoff hitter Jacob Hannemann, sent a long fly to center that Garia hauled in, after turning around, to end the threat.
Wiles earlier received defensive help on diving stops from third baseman Janluis Castro note: there are two castros to end the third inning and right fielder Ryan Cordell to end the fourth.
“All of them were huge to keep the momentum on our side and not giving it back to them,” Wiles said.
The outcome was far from sealed after Garia’s catch. Alex De La Cruz relieved in the sixth and loaded the bases with no out. Hulett immediately summoned from the bullpen Josh McElwee, who escaped the jam with two strikeouts and a pop foul to catcher Greene.
“Everyone just has those days where stuff doesn’t go your way,” Wiles said. “(De La Cruz will) bounce back stronger than ever because I know him. He’s a competitor, too.”
McElwee struggled through the seventh after allowing singles to the first two batters, Trevor Gretzky and Lockhart. Gretzky scored on a wild pitch, but McElwee ended the game by striking out three of the last four batters he faced.
Hulett estimated that Greene blocked six or seven sliders in the dirt during the seventh.
Wiles, employing a solid changeup, allowed five hits, struck out four and walked none. Fifty of the 76 pitches he threw were for strikes.
“He got in trouble in the fifth inning, but I really wanted to give him a shot to pitch out of it and get a chance for a win,” Hulett said. “He saved my bacon.”
Reliever Mike Zouzalik saved Spokane’s bacon in the second game, coaxing a 6-4-3 double play on his first pitch after the Hawks had scored twice in the sixth and had runners at first and second.
Spokane played its first doubleheader in two years. Boise’s last doubleheader was in 2007.