The Spokane Indians have fought their way out of a rough first half that had them stranded at the bottom of the Northwest League North Division standings.
Now in first place, Spokane is looking to take the spot in the postseason that’s awarded to the second-half champion.
It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that Matt Hagen has been waiting to see. But the Indians manager said he hopes his Indians won’t get too comfortable, especially with the Tri-City Dust Devils only one game behind them.
“The lure of being done, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, kind of allows some guys to take the foot off the gas pedal a little bit,” Hagen said. “We’re really trying to keep that pedal down for one more week.”
The Indians didn’t hold back on Friday, rallying to tie the score twice before falling to the Everett AquaSox 5-4 in 12 innings in the first of a three-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium.
Despite the loss, the Indians (21-15) remained at the top of the division second-half standings after Tri-City lost to the Vancouver Canadians 1-0. The Dust Devils (20-16) are still a game behind Spokane with two games left in the regular season.
Spokane must win the title outright because Tri-City holds the tiebreaker by having a better overall record.
Everett’s Greifer Andrade led the 12th with a single left field. He moved to third on a single and a wild pitch before scoring the winning run on a single to right field by Ronald Rosario.
The Indians first fell behind in the third after starting pitcher Demarcus Evans retired the first eight batters of the game. With two outs, Indians first baseman Curtis Terry allowed Rosario’s grounder to get under his glove.
Rosario scored three pitches later when Chris Torres smacked a double to center, giving the AquaSox a 1-0 lead.
Torres moved to third on a throw home and scored on a deep single to shortstop by Eugene Helder, giving the AquaSox a 2-0 lead.
The Indians were quick to fire back, tying the score at 2 in the bottom of the frame. Kole Enright walked to lead off the inning and Nick Kaye followed with a single to right field.
Miguel Aparicio moved both runners up on a sacrifice bunt, and Enright scored on Tyler Ratliff’s blooper to right.
Kaye scored the equalizer on Matt Whatley’s sacrifice fly to left field.
The AquaSox took a 4-2 lead in the top of the ninth, beginning with a double by Helder. Helder scored on a subsequent single to center by Onil Pena.
Pena took second on the throw home, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball.
Spokane rallied in the ninth extra innings. Melvin Novoa reached base on a leadoff walk and scored from first on Enright’s one-out double to left. Aparicio knocked in Enright on a single to right, tying the score at 4.
Aparicio moved to second on the throw home and took third base on a throwing error by Everett pitcher Matt Clancy, but he was left stranded after Whatley grounded out.
Evans (0-2, 2.59 ERA) retired the side in order six times for the Indians. He fanned six, walked none and allowed three hits and two unearned runs in eight innings.
Helder finished 3 for 6, including a double.
O’Banion and Enright had a pair of hits apiece to lead Spokane’s 10-hit night.
The teams continue the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.