The Northwest League’s top two teams picked up Tuesday where they left off two weeks ago at Seafirst Stadium.
North Division-leading Boise handed Spokane another tough defeat, tripping the Indians 6-5 in 12 innings before 4,858 fans.
Boise took two of three games from Spokane in mid-July, all one-run decisions. The Indians are 3-4 in extra innings.
Paxton Stewart’s groundout to first scored Ariel Delgado in the 12th as Boise (30-11) extended its lead to five games over Spokane (25-16). Delgado reached base on a double.
The Indians, winners of several similar come-from-behind games this season, blew several opportunities, stranding 14 baserunners.
“I guess that’s as tough as they get,” a dejected Spokane manager Jeff Garber said. “Our kids played hard all night long. We didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities late in the game.”
Spokane stranded the potential tying run at third in its half of the 12th. The Indians left three on base in the ninth and another potential winning run in the 10th.
It appeared early that Spokane would have little trouble trimming Boise’s lead to three games. A fiverun fourth inning put the Indians ahead 5-1 against Hawks starter Matt Wise (5-0).
The Hawks clawed back, though, eventually tying the score at 5-all with a run in the sixth inning and three in the seventh. The tying runs came on Casey Child’s two-run homer on what would be Spokane starter Jordy Alexander’s final pitch. It was Child’s seventh homer of the season.
The left-handed Alexander was rolling along comfortably, especially after the Indians provided the cushion in the fourth.
As the majority of big innings usually begin, Spokane’s Joe Caruso earned a leadoff walk. Dermal Brown followed with a single on an 0-2 count. Recent hero Juan LeBron crushed a hanging off-speed pitch to the left-center wall, scoring Caruso.
Spokane took the lead at 2-1 on Doug Blosser’s groundout. LeBron scored moments later on a soft single by Dave Willis. With two outs, Merrell Ligons, returning to the lineup after being out since July 17 with a hip flexor injury, laced a two-run single to finish the outburst.
Garber said the loss is particularly critical because it came against the team the Indians are tying to catch.
“It hurts when you lose head-to-head because if you can beat them head-to-head that’s a way to creep back into it,” he said. “So every loss to Boise is a tough loss. It makes it tough on us.”
The Hawks’ stopper, Bo Donaldson (3-1), picked up the victory with solid relief work.
Despite the loss, Garber praised his players for a “great effort” as he entered the clubhouse after sitting by himself in the dugout for 5 minutes after the defeat.
The second game of the crucial three-game set tonight will feature a great pitching matchup. Spokane right-hander Justin Pedersen (3-1, 1.78 ERA) goes against Boise righty Ryan Cummings (4-0, 2.97). Pedersen leads the NWL in ERA.
Box score, C4
, DataTimes MEMO: On deck tonight Boise at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
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