Spokane Indians manager Jeff Garber stood in front of the box seats near his dugout with a child in each arm, smiling like the proud father he is.
But the main reason the smile adorned his face was his other kids, the Indians, had finally manufactured a victory against the Boise Hawks.
It was the other team making a mistake late, not the Indians, that allowed Spokane to escape with a thrilling 7-6 victory in a Northwest League baseball game Wednesday before a crowd of 5,029 at Seafirst Stadium.
With the bases loaded in the eighth, the Indians scored the winning run on a wild pitch that skipped to the backstop. Dermal Brown scored the go-ahead run after being intentionally walked.
“We did that early (got some breaks),” said Garber, whose club (26-16) moved within four games of Boise (30-12). “We haven’t gotten that break lately. Early we took advantage of those mistakes, but lately it seems the other teams have gotten those breaks.”
All five games between the teams have been decided by one run. The loss snapped Boise’s five-game winning streak.
The Indians couldn’t feel too comfortable with their 5-1 lead after four innings. They had the same advantage Tuesday before watching the Hawks rally and prevail in extra innings.
“They don’t quit; they believe they’re going to win every game,” Garber said of the Hawks. “As the game goes along I get more worried. They take advantage of every mistake late in a ballgame, and to me their hitters get tougher as the game goes along.”
It was true again Wednesday.
Spokane scored single runs in the first and second. The Indians put three more across in the fourth. Catcher Carlos Pagan singled to score Dave Willis, who opened the inning with a double. Merrell Ligons dropped a run-scoring single just inside the left-field line, but was tagged out between first and second when Pagan stopped at second.
The Indians’ Goefrey Tomlinson followed with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 5-1.
But Boise rallied, tying the score at 6 in the eighth. Cesar Geronimo scored on a groundout by Brian Ussery after Geronimo doubled and moved up on a passed ball.
After winning its first three extra innings games, Spokane has lost four in a row.
The home-and-home, six-game series between the teams continues Friday with three at Boise.
Counting tonight’s game, the teams will face each other seven more times.
One of the most entertaining matchups in the five games between the clubs has been at shortstop. Boise’s Nelson Castro has put on a show, displaying a major league arm plus range and speed. He is considered one of the top shortstop prospects to play in the NWL in a long time. And Spokane’s Merrell Ligons has also played well.
Looking ahead: Both teams have 33 games left after tonight. Boise has just 14 home games left, including six against Spokane. The Indians have 16 remaining at Seafirst.
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