Southern Oregon had its share of standouts in a strange comeback victory Sunday afternoon.
More than anything, though, the Timberjacks were survivors, outlasting Spokane 14-13 in 10 innings in a Northwest League baseball game that required 4 hours, 27 minutes at Seafirst Stadium.
And the splendid debut of the Kansas City Royals’ first-round draft selection, Spokane pitcher Dan Reichert, was a faint memory by game’s end.
Both Reichert and an early 8-0 lead were history by the time the Indians had put the final ribbon on a gift they handed to Southern Oregon.
Making the loss sting even more - if that was possible - was Spokane (22-11) blew an opportunity to pull within a game of North Division leader Boise (24-9). Portland defeated Boise 8-4, and that game was finished well over an hour before the Spokane-Southern Oregon contest was completed.
The victory kept the Timberjacks (17-15) within a game of South Division leader Portland (18-14).
For the second time in a week, the Indians were sent to their clubhouse after a picture-perfect throw by an outfielder stopped the potential tying run at the plate.
With Rico Montas on second base, Spokane’s Francisco Bautista managed a clutch, two-out single through the right side. But Timberjacks right fielder Hipolito Martinez gunned down Montas by five feet to end the game.
Spokane manager Jeff Garber praised Martinez, but thought Montas could have made the play closer with a better jump.
“We’ve just got to be aggressive in that situation,” Garber said. “We were close to being out of pitching and we’ve got to take our chances there.”
Aggressive base running coupled with a pair of wild pitches allowed Southern Oregon to score the eventual winning run in its half of the 10th.
Adam Piatt, who entered the game as the second-leading hitter in the league behind Spokane’s Dermal Brown, led off with a single. After a strikeout, Piatt stole second.
Piatt advanced to third on a wild pitch by Justin Lamber (1-1). Lamber appeared to regain control when he recorded a second strikeout and was ahead 0-2 on the next batter. But Lamber threw another wild pitch allowing Piatt to score.
“We gave it away,” Garber said. “And when you’re fighting for first place you can’t do that. When you get beat you want to get beat, not give it away.”
The game featured 408 pitches by a combined 12 pitchers (Spokane used six). The teams combined for seven errors, but there were as many or more mental mistakes.
“It was an ugly-played game by both teams,” Garber added. “We didn’t pitch well out of the bullpen.”
Trailing 13-9 going into the eighth, Spokane rallied to tie the score.
Reichert, the seventh overall selection in the June draft who signed a record contract for a drafted Royals player, started Sunday with a 50-pitch limit.
The right-hander out of the University of Pacific actually threw 53 pitches, 39 of which were strikes, before being pulled after 3-2/3 innings.
The start was the only thing to bring a smile to Garber’s face afterward.
“It was exciting,” Garber said. “He had good command of his fastball and slider. We’re looking forward to getting his pitch count up so we can use him more.”
Spokane second baseman Joe Caruso, the hottest-hitting Indian in July, hit two homers and had three RBI. First baseman Doug Blosser, who homered in his final at bat Saturday, hit his seventh homer following a lead-off walk Sunday. He’s tied for the team lead with Dermal Brown.
Spokane scored seven runs in the second inning, the most in any inning this season.
The tempers were as hot as the temperature as two Southern Oregon coaches were ejected on separate occasions.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TONIGHT’S GAME The Indians and Timberjacks square off in the fourth of five games tonight at 7:05. Spokane will start lefty Jason Gooding (3-0) and Southern Oregon counters with righty Tim Manwiller (1-0).
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