Down by five runs in the fifth inning, the Spokane Indians didn’t despair.
Instead, they scored seven runs in the last four innings, including a game-winning two-run home run by Chris Kemp, in a 7-5 victory over the Tri-City Dust Devils on Sunday night in front of 3,242 spectators at Avista Stadium.
The Indians tied the series 1-1 with the Dust Devils, totaling six hits in the last four innings. Spokane’s Chris Davis opened the ninth inning with a walk followed by Kemp’s third home run of the season. When Kemp came to bat in the ninth, he was 1 for 3 with two strikeouts.
“I was just trying to stay positive,” Kemp said. “It was a fastball, middle in, and I got ahead on it.”
A home run, a bunt base hit and two RBIs in the fifth inning gave the Dust Devils the 5-0 lead over the Indians. In five innings, the Indians posted only one base hit with no runs scored, compared to Tri-City’s seven hits and five runs.
The Indians answered in the sixth inning when they scored three runs on three hits. Wally Backman Jr. opened with a double to right center field and stole third. Nick Cadena knocked him in with a base hit over the shortstop and designated hitter Chad Tracy cleaned up with a two-run home run to left field, his second in the series and his seventh of the season.
Following a pitching change in the seventh, Spokane’s Davis opened with a first-pitch single and advanced to third on a double from Kemp down the first base foul line. A groundout from Hunter Harrigan tallied one run, followed by a groundout from Joey Hooft which scored the tying run at 5.
“We get down early, we fight back and we never give up,” Kemp said. “I’m proud of these guys.”
Spokane closer Brennan Garr pitched 4 1/3 innings and held the Dust Devils earning his second win of the season (2-0), finishing with seven strikeouts, including striking out the side in the eighth inning.
“He came out and has his good stuff going and he got in a groove,” Spokane manager Mike Micucci said of Garr. “Once he’s on a roll, you can’t get him out of it.”
Spokane starting pitcher Kasey Kiker had a rough start on the mound, walking the first two batters and eventually loading the bases with another walk in the fist inning. Kiker (0-2) got out of the inning without giving up any runs with one strikeout.
An error from Spokane’s Steve Marquardt at third base put a runner on base in the second inning, followed by another walk from Kiker. But again, Kiker got out of the inning giving up no runs, adding another strikeout.
Kiker, the parent Texas Rangers’ first-round draft pick, pitched two innings and after Sunday’s appearance leads the Indians with 15 walks. Adam Schaecher relieved Kiker in the third, giving up the first hit and the Dust Devils’ first run with a sacrifice fly to left field, followed by another run scored in the fourth.
Tri-City’s designated hitter Aaron Rifkin opened the fifth inning with a solo home run, followed by three base hits and two runs scored to give the Dust Devils their five-run lead.
Schaecher pitched 2 2/3 innings giving up five runs, four earned to the Dust Devils among four strikeouts. Garr relieved in the fifth with two outs and finished the inning with a fly out to center field.
The final game of the home series against the Dust Devils is tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Avista Stadium.
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