Charles Moorman’s first winning hit with the Spokane Indians had just enough bounce at the right time.
Moorman bounded a two-run single over the head of third baseman Ryder Jones against a drawn-in infield in the fourth inning Thursday to put Spokane ahead for good during a 5-3 win over Salem-Keizer at Avista Stadium.
Spokane’s backup catcher entered the night with a .185 batting average and 11 runs batted in over 26 games. His one-out single gave the Indians a 3-2 lead one-half inning after the Volcanoes nearly broke the game open.
“With two strikes, I was battling, so I just wanted to put it in play,” the third-year pro said. “I knew for sure we were going to get one run in and then I saw the guy jumping and I said, ‘Oh, sweet, two RBIs.’ It couldn’t happen any better.”
The rally started with Luke Tendler’s leadoff double to right field, his 17th of the season. Josh Morgan walked and Juremi Profar sacrificed the runners to second and third.
“It was good timing there,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “The infield was in and we had guys in scoring position.”
Salem-Keizer (37-35 overall, 19-15 second half) dropped to 1-3 in the series that wraps up tonight and lost another chance to gain ground in the Northwest League South Division postseason chase. The Volcanoes are chasing Hillsboro (22-12) for the second-half title and Boise (39-33) for the second-best overall record, but the regular season is down to four games. Luckily for the Volcanoes, they play their last three games at Boise.
Spokane (39-33, 14-20) has secured a playoff berth by winning the North Division first-half title, but the Indians may not know their divisional-round opponent until Monday, the final day of the regular season. Tri-City and Vancouver are tied for first place at 17-17 in the second-half title chase, and Everett (15-19) is still alive. Spokane ends the season at Vancouver while Everett travels to Tri-City.
Spokane’s Jason Hoppe, making his fourth start, escaped a bases-loaded jam while protecting a 1-0 lead in the third, but ran into trouble in the fourth by allowing back-to-back singles.
Austin Pettibone (2-2) relieved and threw wildly to first base on Hunter Cole’s bunt to load the bases. Travious Relaford put S-K ahead with a two-run single to left, but Pettibone minimized the damage with the help of an odd 5-2-6 double play. Third baseman Seth Spivey knocked down Christian Arroyo’s liner and threw home to get Cole on a forceout. Moorman threw back to third to get the advancing Relaford.
“That was a huge inning there, to minimize the damage,” Hulett said. “When you get the bases loaded with nobody out and give up three or less, it’s usually a pretty good inning.”
Pettibone worked three innings, striking out four, and gave way to Luis Pollorena in the seventh. Pollorena allowed one hit and one walk in two innings before Johnny Fasola worked a scoreless ninth for the save.
Indians teammates Seth Spivey (3 for 3, .340) and Eduard Pinto (2-4, .339) continued their duel toward the NWL batting title, with S-K’s Arroyo (2-4, .328) chasing.