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Alex Speas’ strong start helps Spokane Indians top Hillsboro 2-1

By Johnathan Curley For The Spokesman-Review

Alex Speas’ dominant start led the Spokane Indians (8-14) to a 2-1 win in the first of a five-game Northwest League series against the Hillsboro Hops (12-10) on Thursday at Avista Stadium.

Speas pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits and two walks while he struck out five.

Speas encountered trouble in the fifth inning as Hillsboro loaded the bases with no outs after both a balk and catcher’s interference was called on a single pitch.

Middle relief pitcher Joe Barlow substituted for Speas with two outs and walked Bryan Araiza to allow a 1-0 Hillsboro lead in the fifth.

In his first game with the Indians, Tyler Ratliff doubled with two outs in the sixth inning and promptly scored on an Andretty Cordero single to tie the game at 1-1.

Matt Whatley, who the Rangers recently acquired in the third round of the 2017 draft, reached first base as he was the victim of a wild curveball to the helmet to lead off Spokane’s seventh inning.

Kole Enright followed Whatley’s hit-by-pitch with a sacrifice bunt, but Hillsboro third baseman Eudy Ramos threw the ball into left field to advance the runners to third and second base.

The Indians took advantage of the error as Jonah McReynolds hit into a fielder’s choice which allowed Whatley to score and gain a 2-1 lead.

The Spokane offense found trouble igniting again as the Hillsboro defense remained tight, highlighted by Tra’Mayne Holmes’ diving catch in centerfield to rob Franklin Rollin of a triple in his first game as an Indian.

The bullpen protected the 2-1 lead by pitching 4 1/3 innings scoreless innings and allowing only two walks while striking out seven, capped off by Alex Eubanks striking out the side to close out the game and earn his first save.

Spokane and Hillsboro return to Avista Stadium for their second game tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

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