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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dust Devils squeak past Indians in 10

Jaime Cardenas Staff writer

PASCO – With his eyes staring at the ground and his arms on his hips, Spokane Indians shortstop German Duran began to move the dirt beneath him with his spikes.

Like a detective looking for clues at the scene of a crime, Duran was searching for a reason why his glove had not come up with the ball with two outs in the 10th inning of Sunday’s 3-2 Northwest League loss to the Tri-City Dust Devils.

Duran, who scored the game-tying run in the eighth, began to charge a ground ball by Travis Becktel when he stopped halfway and planted his glove in the dirt. As he went to throw out Becktel at first, he raised his glove prematurely and the ball caromed off the edge of his glove. The sixth-round draft pick from Weatherford College was hoping that reliever Juan Maldonado would get Phillip Cuadrado to send a ground ball his way. Instead, Cuadrado sent Maldonado’s first pitch, a low fastball, to the wall in left-center field to drive in Becktel and leave Duran and the Indians on the field.

As most of the Indians ran back to the clubhouse, Duran stayed at his position. He continued to look down as third baseman Joey Hooft walked over to him.

“‘You’re going to have games like this and you’re going to make errors. Don’t worry about it,” Duran said Hooft told him. “I can’t get too down on myself; it’s too early in the season. I just have to go out there tomorrow and get a hit… and not sit on ground balls.”

Spokane’s loss puts them one game behind the Dust Devils (11-9) in the Northwest League East Division standings with Game 3 of the series today at Dust Devil Stadium.

“You try to come back and win the next game to put it behind you,” said Doug Mathis, who gave up six hits and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings pitched – his longest outing of the year.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Indians right fielder Steve Murphy extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double that scored Duran from first based to tie the game at 2-2.

Maldonado then came in and gave up two hits and an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings to take the loss.

“Any error always seems to lead to something bad,” said Duran. “I was just hoping to get another grounder.”

In the sixth, two errors allowed Hooft to score the Indians’ first run of the game. Hoof walked to lead off the inning and moved to second when the third baseman, Becktel, threw the ball away on a grounder by Duran.

Then, while attempting to pick off Hooft at second base, Dust Devils starter Buzz Vargas threw the ball into center field and the runners advanced one base. After Murphy struck out, Lizahio Baez grounded out to first base to drive in Hooft. Vargas allowed only two hits and struck out four in six innings. Vargas, who lowered his ERA to 1.64, worked with four other relievers to hold the Indians to four hits.

“That’s the bad thing, we only got four hits,” said Spokane manager Greg Riddoch. “I’ll take pitching and defense over hitting any day.”

After Spokane scored one run in the sixth, Tri-City came back with two in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Phillip Cuadrado, the Dust Devils’ third batter, singled to right field. He moved to second on a single by Sandy Almonte. It was Spokane starter Doug Mathis’ 88th and final pitch. Jason Van Kooten drove the second pitch by Indians reliever Jon Wilson off the wall in deep left-center to score Cuadrado and Almonte.

Notes

Kellan McConnell (2-1, 5.21 ERA) will make his third start of the season opposite David Patton (0-4, 7.58) of the Dust Devils in the series finale.

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