For a large chunk of Tuesday’s game, the Spokane Indians were shut down by several Everett AquaSox pitchers.
But the two innings they hit in did the job.
Curtis Terry crushed a two-run home run in the eighth inning to cap a four-run rally and the Indians outlasted the AquaSox 7-5 in the first of a three-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium on Tuesday.
“I was just staying back, not trying to get outside of myself, not get too big,” Terry said. “Just see a pitch I could drive and I got one right there.”
Terry, the defending NWL home run champion, leads the league again in big flies with five. It’s not often that power leaders are asked to repeat the short-A level and Terry said he has something to prove.
“I have something to say,” he said about showing the league his power again. “But in the grand scheme of things I’m doing what I need to do to help this team win every night.”
Spokane (5-7) won its third in a row.
“It’s not how you write it up but it was a nice start and a better finish,” said manager Kenny Holmberg.
“The guys continue to battle. They continue to play for each other. They’ll start to form a team now that way. That’s what you’re starting to see.”
Indians relievers Cole Uvila and Scott Engler retired 12 straight batters through the eighth inning, keeping the AquaSox within comeback range.
“That’s what you need there,” Holmberg said. “Huge from Cole, and what Scott did was tremendous. That’s closing a game out.”
The Indians batters made good on that strong relief work in the eighth.
J.P. Martinez led off the inning and turned on one immediately, dumping it over the caboose past the fence in right field, to make it a one-run game at 5-4.
It was Martinez’ first homer of the season – and just his sixth hit.
“I’m not looking at the numbers too heavy,” Holmberg said of Martinez’ slow start. “I’m looking at the approach, the swing, the balance. He’s getting beat on some fastballs at times, but he didn’t get beat there.”
With one down, Miguel Aparicio singled and scored on a double to center by Diosbel Arias that center fielder Josh Stowers dove for but couldn’t come up with.
Terry then put the Indians up, crushing one to left that cleared the screen beyond fence with an exit velocity of 111 mph.
“He jumped on that first-pitch heater,” Holmberg said. “That ball disappeared.”
Engler retired the AquaSox (7-5) in order in the ninth to seal the comeback win.
It started out like a slowpitch softball game, with runs aplenty in the first few innings – mostly coming from Everett.
The Indians sent righty Werner Leal (0-1, 13.50) out against Carlos Hernandez (1-1, 9.95).
Leal, an international free agent signed by the Texas Rangers in 2015, allowed three runs on three hits in two innings last Wednesday in his NWL debut.
Spokane is the third stop for the Venezuela native this season, as he has pitched in Low-A Hickory and High-A Down East this season. Overall, he is 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA.
AquaSox starter Carlos Hernandez has had an up and down start to the season. His first start lasted just one-third of an inning as the righty allowed seven earned runs. Last Thursday, though, he tossed six shutout innings against Vancouver.
The Indians jumped on Hernandez right away. Martinez dropped a soft liner into center for a single and proceeded to steal second base.
Jonah McReynolds followed with a bloop double down the right field and Martinez moved to third. Aparicio’s ground out to short plated Martinez and McReynolds went to third.
Hernandez hit Arias in the hand/wrist area, and after a short meeting with trainers, the infielder took his base.
Terry continued his hot start to the season, pounding a double off the wall in left center to plate McReynolds and Spokane took a 2-0 lead.
Starling Joseph skied a fly ball behind second base but the combination of a slight breeze and sunny sky befuddled the Everett fielders and the ball fell safely just a few feet off the infield dirt and Arias jogged home with the third run.
Everett answered in the second. Jake Anchia led off with a single up the middle and with one down, Bobby Honeyman drilled one to the right center gap that ended up as an RBI triple.
Honeyman then scored on a ground out by Troy Dixon to make it 3-2.
Everett took the lead in the third. Ronald Rosario led off with a single and went to third on Mariners second-round draft pick Stowers’ double off the wall in left center.
Both runners scored on a single by Ryne Ogren off the glove of a diving Terry that second baseman McReynolds was slow to retrieve.
Leal struck out three in the fourth inning and his night was done. He gave up four runs on six hits with no walks and five Ks for the night.
Uvila took over in the fifth but the scoring against the Indians continued.
Charlie McConnell led off with a double to the right-center gap, went to third on a ground out and scored when a slider in the dirt got away from catcher Scott Kapers, making his first start for the club.
Arias led off the home half of the sixth with a double that two-hopped the wall in right-center. Sidearming reliever Penn Murfee uncorked a wild pitch, but it bounced right back to the catcher and Dixon threw out Arias easily at third.
The Indians got a one-out single by Cristian Inoa in the seventh, but he was erased by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
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