Given the chance to go back in time, the Spokane Indians would have started Saturday’s game against Hillsboro 10 minutes later.
Taking advantage of a stiff wind from the night’s powerful storm that plagued the area, Hillsboro hit three first-inning home runs on the way to a 12-9 Northwest League win over the Indians at Avista Stadium.
The Hops also collected three doubles during their six-run first as the wind blowing to center and right-center aided homers by Steve Nyisztor, Kevin Cron and Pedro Ruiz.
“I think it was really big,” Nyisztor said of the wind. “A lot of the balls were hit hard, but they got the extra push they needed with the wind. … You have to take that into account when you start like that.”
“Those balls were flying out of here like you wouldn’t believe, but we both hit in the same wind and it seemed like most of the balls were hit pretty good anyhow,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “I don’t think balls were blown out. But, yeah, I think in hindsight we maybe should have waited 10 minutes.”
After the wind died down, Ruiz also led off the fourth with another homer and Nyisztor hit a two-out, two-run triple to right in the sixth for a 10-5 lead.
The triple took some wind out of Spokane’s sails after the Indians rallied to trail 7-5 after four.
“It was a big spot,” Nyisztor said. … “They had kept chipping away, so I knew it was a big spot to try to add a little more. No lead is ever too safe, so getting that was big for the team and the pitching staff.”
Down 6-0 after one-half inning, Spokane jazzed the paid crowd of 7,031 by loading the bases with nobody out for cleanup hitter Luke Tendler. Coming off of Friday’s three-RBI night in which he hit his sixth homer, Tendler lined a grand slam deep to right to give him 41 RBIs for the season, No. 2 in the league.
“I think he would have had the distance without the wind,” Hulett said.
The Indians had a prime opportunity in the fourth after Pepe Cardona led off with a double and scored on Fernando Vivili’s single to center. Spokane loaded the bases with nobody out and the top of the order coming up.
But Eduard Pinto popped to shortstop, Seth Spivey struck out and Jose Trevino, after hitting a ball just foul to left that was nearly the Indians’ second slam of the night, also fanned.
“We score one run and load the bases and you have the top of your lineup, guys who really swing the bat well,” Hulett said. “We got nothing else. … We expect a lot from those guys and they just didn’t get it done.”
The Hops (8-4 second half, 30-20 overall) held a 12-6 lead after a two-run top of the ninth. The Indians (4-8, 29-21) gave the fans hope with four singles and three runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The Hops lead the five-game set 3-1. Hillsboro (South Division) and Spokane (North) were first-half champions and have punched their tickets to the postseason.
“We knew they were a really talented team all around, winning the first half, so it’s a good test at this point of the season to see where we are against the other side of the league,” Nyisztor said.