VANCOUVER, B.C. – If you know anything about this Spokane Indians team, you had to have a hunch this series was going to five games.
Broc Coffman made sure of that, and the bullpen combination of Nate Fogle and Jon Wilson made Freddie Thon’s third-inning two-run single stand up as the Indians defeated Vancouver 2-0 in front of 1,277 fans at Nat Bailey Stadium, tying the series to determine the Northwest League championship at 2 games apiece.
A team that made the playoffs with all the grace of someone falling down the stairs wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I knew it. Everyone was talking about sweep this, sweep that,” Thon said. “It was going to be a tough series, but it’s going to be fun (today).”
Spokane will hand the ball to right-hander Kellan McConnell at 1:05 today. McConnell threw a shaky 5 2/3 innings in a must-win game on the final day of the season in Boise.
Joe Piekarz, with a 3-3 record and a 3.38 ERA, goes for the Canadians.
Coffman put together a second straight clutch start after throwing eight two-hit innings in Boise, throwing 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out six in the thick maritime air of British Columbia.
“My fastball was working well, and my curveball, at times, was there when I needed it,” Coffman said. “I was just trying to throw the fastball over the plate and let them make their own outs.”
Both teams made their own outs, as the two combined for 25 strikeouts and eight hits, with Vancouver only managing one hit after the end of the third inning.
Nate Fogle came on in relief of Coffman and struck out five of the eight batters he faced, with a double play erasing the only base runner.
“Fogle is ridiculous,” Thon said of the sidearmer with the nasty slider, which got him 1 1/2 strikeouts an inning during the regular season. “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Jon Wilson came on to pick up the save, but allowed a leadoff single to left fielder Chad Boyd, who picked up his 10th hit of the series with a line drive off third baseman Joey Hooft’s glove.
Wilson came back, getting two fly balls and then a pop-up by slugging designated hitter Haas Pratt was flagged down by second baseman Terry Blunt in short center to pick up the win.
The Indians scored the only two runs in the third when, with one out, Terry Blunt drew a walk from Canadians starter Jimmy Shull.
Blunt was moving on the first pitch to K.C. Herren, and Herren singled into right field to push Blunt to third, with Herren taking an extra base on the throw to third.
Taylor Teagarden popped out into foul territory, putting the pressure on Thon, but as the Indians’ RBI leader has done so many times this year, he delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single to center.
“I was talking to the guys before the game and they were talking home run, and I just wanted one big one,” Thon said. “Just get some big ones because I knew Broc would shut them down.”
Coffman’s uncle, Jim Coffman, was the pitching coach for the Canadians in 2000-01, and now works in the same capacity with the Athletics’ Double-A team in Midland, Texas. … SS David Peterson made his first start since Sept. 1, batting ninth and playing shortstop.
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