Jason Hoppe and Adam Martin are friends, having played together on a summer league team two years ago.
But Martin put the friendship on hold when he faced Hoppe in key two-out situations Thursday at Avista Stadium.
Martin drove in five runs, including a three-run homer in the first inning and an RBI single in the third, as the Everett AquaSox cruised past the Spokane Indians 7-3 to open a three-game Northwest League series.
Martin’s homer, his fifth of the season, came on a 2-2 pitch and just escaped the park near the 296-foot sign in right field.
“I saw the right fielder stop near the line and I thought he caught it,” Martin said. “Two hundred and 96 1/2 is over the fence, so that’s all you need out there. (Teammates) were saying I hit it 297, but I said, ‘No, it’s 296½ for sure.’ Hey, it went over the fence. That’s all that matters.”
Martin, who entered the game with 13 RBIs in 36 games, picked up his fifth RBI of the night on a fielder’s choice in the fifth that gave the AquaSox a 6-1 lead. He was replaced in the eighth after taking a foul ball off his wrist in the seventh.
Hoppe (1-2) and Martin played together for the St. Cloud Rox of the Northwoods League.
“I know (Hoppe) has a really good breaking ball, but he doesn’t throw it to me much,” Martin said. “He thinks I can’t get the down-and-in pitch, so he likes to come in on me. It’s always a battle of mind games with us out there.”
Everett finished in last place in the North Division in the first half, posting an 11-27 record to trail the champion Indians by 14 games.
Now the AquaSox (8-6) hold the second-half lead and the faltering Indians (4-10), who have lost 15 of their last 22 games, are in last place.
“We had (13) hits tonight and three runs, so it just seemed like we couldn’t get that big hit again tonight,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “I think we used them all up in the first half.”
The Indians had two chances to break loose but came up short both times.
Luke Tendler, who hit a solo homer in the fourth, lined into a double play with the bases loaded in the fifth when alert Everett second baseman Jordan Cowan caught the ball and touched second before Seth Spivey could scramble back.
“I think that’s the first line-drive, bases-loaded double play that we’ve hit into all year,” Hulett said. “I’m a fanatic about not getting doubled off there. It’s the fastest way to kill a rally. In that situation, we’re just going one base at a time.”
The Indians had the bases full again in the seventh, but Everett just nipped Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the inning-ending forceout at second base on Juremi Profar’s grounder.
Indians all-star catcher Marcus Greene was promoted to Hickory, North Carolina, after hitting .318 in 42 games. Greene was leading the league in on-base percentage (.446) when he received word at the All-Star Game in Eugene.
Second baseman Josh Morgan, selected in the third round during June’s Major League Draft, joined the Indians from the Arizona Rookie League and produced three hits and two fine fielding plays in his debut.