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Spokane Indians

Indians rally in ninth inning for walkoff win over Emeralds

Mon., Aug. 7, 2017, 11:05 p.m.

Spokane Indians’ starting pitcher Demarcus Evans delivers in the first inning of Monday’s 6-5 victory over the Eugene Emeralds at Avista Stadium. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Indians’ starting pitcher Demarcus Evans delivers in the first inning of Monday’s 6-5 victory over the Eugene Emeralds at Avista Stadium. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

No doubt, Alex Speas needed some stress relief in the second half of the season.

For the majority of the first half, the righty found himself struggling to stay calm on the hill after falling behind batters and building up an earned-run average that exceeded 10.

Indians pitching coach Joey Seaver was quick to pull the 19-year-old from his starting role in the last couple of weeks and use Speas only as a relief pitcher. The relief spot allowed Speas to pitch more often – about every four games – but throw less innings per appearances.

“I think that gives him a little bit less to think about, to worry about,” Seaver said. “I think it’s worked so far … he seems like the weight of the world is off his shoulders.”

Speas said working in relief has been nowhere near as stressful as it was in his seven starts this season.

“Each time, I just get more and more comfortable. It’s a great position I can be in right now,” Speas said.

In Monday’s 6-5 walkoff win over the Eugene Emeralds (6-6), Speas came in to relieve for the fourth time this season and recorded three strikeouts in two innings for the Indians (9-3).

But it still wasn’t a smooth outing for the righty, who slipped up at the start of the seventh after giving up a bloop hit by Eugene’s Jhonny Bethencourt’s that landed just behind first base. Speas attempted to pick off Bethencourt at first, but he overthrew the ball and gave Bethencourt two free bases.

Bethencourt eventually crossed the plate on Hughes’ sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Emeralds a 5-4 lead.

The Indians were able to recover on shaky relief from the Emeralds in the bottom of the frame. Right-hander Brian Glowicki forced in the tying run after walking Chris Seise, tying the score at 5.

In the bottom of the ninth, Nick Kaye led off with a single to right field, and then moved to second base on Miguel Aparicio’s sacrifice bunt. With two outs, the Emeralds intentionally walked Chad Smith to get to pinch hitter Tyler Ratliff. Ratliff sent his second pitch to right field. driving in Kaye for the winning run.

The Indians fell behind by one run in the first, but Spokane’s Curtis Terry answered in the second when he homered to left field, tying the score at 1.

Evans gave up back-to-back doubles in the third inning, allowing Eugene to improve its lead to 2-1. Polanco knocked another double to center field, sending home Brandon Hughes for Eugene’s third run of the night.

The Indians were quick to answer, putting up three runs the following inning behind a pair of singles and a double. Chris Seise started the inning with a single to center field. Clay Middleton sent home Seise on a double to left field, cutting Eugene’s lead to 4-2.

Terry followed with a grounder down the first- base line that rolled over the bag and stayed fair. Terry reached second on the hit, sending home Chad Smith, who reached base on a walk, and Clay Middleton to tie the game at 4.

Middleton, Seise and Terry recorded two hits apiece to lead the Indians’ nine-hit attack. Terry’s homer in the second inning was his eighth home run of the season.

No doubt, Alex Speas needed some stress relief in the second half of the season.


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