Matt Hagen has a few more lessons to teach his young players before the end of the season. This time, the Indians manager had to figure out how to get his team to hold onto a lead, a situation that the Indians haven’t been too familiar with this season.
Sunday’s showing was far different than a majority of games this year that have resulted in the Indians fighting back for a win after falling behind quickly in the first few innings.
The Indians jumped out to a six-run lead heading into the fifth inning against Salem-Keizer, but quickly found themselves scrambling to hold on.
The Volcanoes rallied behind a four-run eighth inning and defeated Spokane 10-9 in the second game of a five-game series at Avista Stadium.
Sunday’s stinger won’t be forgotten soon by Hagen’s young players, who have remained tied with the Everett AquaSox for the least number of wins (12) in either division of the Northwest League.
“I think the message was delivered,” Hagen said. “Part of a winning team is you have to know how to … come back, and we learned how to do that. And you have to know how to hold onto leads as well. Obviously we haven’t learned that lesson yet.”
The Indians (12-19) opened the game with a strong rally, putting up four runs in the third inning to take a 7-3 lead.
Tyler Ratliff started the rally with a single to left field, and then moved to second base on a subsequent walk. Ratliff eventually scored from second after Volcanoes (14-17) pitcher Alejandro De La Rosa made a throwing error in an attempt to pick off Cordero at first.
Cordero moved to second and crossed home plate on Melvin Novoa’s single to center. Cristian Inoa’s double down the third-base line scored Novoa, giving Spokane a three-run lead.
With two outs, Austin O’Banion smacked another double, the Indians’ third of the day. The shot sent home Inoa and improved the Indians’ lead to 7-3.
The Indians piled on two more runs the following inning behind Cordero’s two-run home run, giving Spokane a comfortable six-run lead.
But the Indians started feeling a bit too comfortable. Their bats disappeared at the plate, as they had only two hits in the last five innings.
“We just kind of took the foot off the gas pedal,” Hagen said.
The Volcanoes, however, were just starting to put their bats in gear.
They shot a pair of doubles and a two-run homer to narrow Spokane’s lead to 9-5 in the sixth inning.
But the real damage ensued two innings later when Salem-Keizer rallied behind four hits and a couple of Spokane errors to tie the score at 9.
Salem-Keizer took the lead in the ninth on a solo home run by Gustavo Cabrera.
Volcanoes closer Garrett Cave retired the side in the bottom of the ninth on a pair of strikeouts and dribbler down the first base line to end the game.
Salem-Keizer outhit the Indians 14-11, with five player notching two hits apiece.
Indians left fielder O’Banion led the Indians with three hits in four at-bats, including a pair of doubles. Smith also hit two doubles and drew a walk in the fourth inning in which he eventually scored for Spokane.