The Spokane Indians have known for a while they wouldn’t repeat as champions of the Northwest League and the East Division, so they settled for the next best thing.
The Indians blanked Yakima 3-0 in front of 4,919 Friday at Avista Stadium, securing second place outright in the East when Tri-City defeated Boise. Spokane improved to 36-38 with its sixth straight home victory. Third-place Boise is 33-41.
“We’ll take it,” said Indians manager Tim Hulett, whose team bounced back from a 1-5 road trip. “We’d love to end up .500, too, so we have a little bit of work to do (with two games remaining). That’s one of the goals they set for the second half and we were a long way from that at one point.”
Indians pitcher Braden Tullis allowed four hits and one walk in five sharp innings. He used two of his five strikeouts to get out of a jam in the fifth. Matt Helm walked with one out and moved to third on Astolfo Inciarte’s double to the fence in center. Helm appeared to have a good opportunity to score, but was held up by the third-base coach. Tullis (4-3) fanned Roidany Aguila and Tyrell Worthington.
Tullis hasn’t allowed a run in three of his last five starts. He’s been particularly stingy at home, entering the evening with a 1.93 ERA and 2-0 record.
“I feel comfortable,” Tullis said of pitching here. “It’s nice to pitch in front of the crowd. It seems like your adrenaline is going more.”
Joseph Ortiz and Kyle Ocampo each pitched two scoreless innings against the Bears, who are last in the NWL with a .252 batting average.
The Indians didn’t rough up Yakima starter Chris Odegaard, who combined with two relievers on a two-hitter in a 3-2 win over Spokane last week, but they did push across two runs.
The first came in the second inning. Tomas Telis, one of four making their home debut, doubled and went to third on Michael Ortiz’s broken-bat single. Telis scored on a double play.
Jared Prince led off the fourth with a double and took third on a groundout. Ortiz drew a one-out walk.
On a hit-and-run, Danny Lima lined a single through the spot vacated by Yakima’s Gerson Montilla, who was sliding over to cover second base, and Prince trotted home.
Telis homered to right in the eighth, giving the Indians a three-run cushion. Telis hit two homers in the Arizona League before his recent promotion to Spokane.
All four newcomers – Telis, Ortiz, shortstop Edwin Garcia and catcher Billy O’Conner – made contributions.
“They stepped up,” Tullis said. “They played like they’ve been here the whole year.”
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