The Spokane Indians lead the Northwest League in winning percentage (.875) and team earned-run average (2.35), and are just off the pace in team batting average (.267).
Luke Tendler believes another category is just as important.
“A lot of guys are out here having fun and enjoying themselves,” Tendler said Saturday after the Indians scored twice in the eighth inning to defeat the Boise Hawks 3-2 to open a five-game series at Avista Stadium. “The more fun you have, the more wins you’re going to have.”
Tendler, the Indians’ right fielder and cleanup hitter, finished 3 for 4 with two runs batted in, tying the game at 2 by bouncing a single to center field to score Seth Spivey. Tendler scored the winner on Juremi Profar’s sacrifice fly.
Spokane improved to 7-1 and holds a 21/2-game lead over Vancouver in the North Division. The Indians are 5-0 at home and 7-0 in nine-inning games. Their loss came at Vancouver Friday night in the seven-inning second game of a doubleheader.
“We’re playing pretty good in all facets and for me tonight the game was really about not giving up,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “It would have been easy to cash in. We just came off a long road trip, getting back late and not swinging the bats well. It would have been easy to chalk it up to, ‘Well it just wasn’t our night,’ but they really did a great job of pulling it out.”
Before the eighth-inning rally, Spokane had accounted for one hit in its previous six innings – Tendler’s single to right to lead off the fourth.
Seth Spivey, the league’s leading hitter at .500 started the comeback by legging out a double to right field to lead off the inning.
Boise third baseman Jesse Hodges made a fine play on Zach Cone’s grounder for the first out, but Tendler guessed correctly against Hawks reliever David Garner (0-1) to tie the game.
“It was a fastball a little bit away,” said Tendler, who raised his batting average to .417. “What I picked up was he was in love with his fastball. I was going up there and I was going to cheat on a fastball.”
Alberto Triunfel followed with a single to center that Rashad Crawford bobbled long enough to allow the base runners to move to second and third. Profar lined the crucial sacrifice fly, also to center, for his fifth RBI of the season.
“We gave a lot of at-bats away early, which we hadn’t been doing all year,” Hulett said. “But it seems like when the game got down toward the end, guys started focusing better, taking a better approach at the plate.”
Adam Parks (1-0) earned his first professional win by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth. Shortstop Triunfel started a double play after Parks allowed a leadoff single in the ninth.
Jason Hoppe pitched 22/3 scoreless innings, getting the Indians out of a jam with a double play to end the fifth after Boise (4-5) took a 2-1 lead and had the bases loaded.
Indians starter Reed Garrett surrendered a leadoff homer to right to Varonex Cuevas as the Hawks tied the game at 1 in the third. Garrett’s wildness – two walks and a hit batter – led to Hulett summoning Hoppe in the fifth.
Spokane’s Eduard Pinto led off the first with a single to center. He moved to second on a ground out and scored on Tendler’s two-out single to left.
“Our hitters just keep on swinging, giving us a chance to win every baseball game we have,” Tendler said.
The game finished in a breezy 2 hours, 27 minutes.