Luke Tendler and the Spokane Indians are back in the swing.
Tendler hit his Northwest League-leading 10th and 11th home runs Tuesday and the Indians posted their third consecutive win by roaring back from a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 10-5 at Avista Stadium.
Both of Tendler’s homers went to right-center. His one-out solo shot jump-started a three-run sixth inning as the Indians cut the Volcanoes’ lead to 5-4. His two-run homer after Jose Trevino walked to lead off the seventh put Spokane ahead for good at 6-5.
Tendler had been 2 for 14 in his last four games after returning to the lineup from a sprained right ankle suffered during the first inning on Aug. 17.
“That’s the old Luke right there,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He’s been struggling for a while. It wasn’t just because of the injury. Tonight was a really good night for him. You could just tell, once he started swinging, his confidence was really up.”
“I’ve been struggling a little bit, but it’s just part of the game,” Tendler said. “You just have to play through your struggles until you get that good feeling again. … I didn’t see any pitches for a couple of days, so it can mess up your timing a little bit.”
Tendler’s three RBIs gave his a club-high 51, good for a second-place tie in the league with Vancouver’s Ryan McBroom. Vancouver’s Franklin Barreto leads with 57.
“I’m not trying to hit homers, but when it happens it’s a great feeling,” Tendler said. “As far as taking over the league lead, I just felt like I put a couple of good swings on the baseball tonight.”
The Indians (38-32 overall, 13-19 second half), who have secured a postseason berth because of their North Division first-half title, dealt a blow to Salem-Keizer’s playoff chances. The Volcanoes (36-34, 18-14) had a chance to gain ground on Hillsboro (21-11) in the second-half race and Boise (38-32) in the overall race if Hillsboro adds the second-half title to the first-half title it won.
Six games remain in the regular season, including Games 3, 4 and 5 of the Indians-Volcanoes series. S-K leads the season series 4-3.
The North Division second-half race remained tied between Tri-City and Vancouver at 16-16, with Everett (14-18) two games back.
Hunter Cole hit a two-run homer in the second inning and a solo shot in the fourth, both to right field off Nick Dignacco, to boost the Volcanoes to their 5-0 lead.
Dignacco made his first start of the season as the Indians cut back on their regular starters’ innings before the playoffs. Reed Garrett (6-1), who has made nine starts, retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh as the Indians started their rally.
Derek Thompson, whose previous 13 outings were all starts, escaped a jam in the eighth with the Indians protecting a 7-5 lead. Thompson, who has a club-high 73 strikeouts, fanned Dylan Davis with Volcanoes runners at the corners.
The Indians released their 2015 schedule, which features eight consecutive home games to open the season. Spokane will open June 18 with a five-game series against Hillsboro. The schedule also includes an 11-game road trip in mid- to late July and the NWL Aug. 4 All-Star Game at Avista against Pioneer League all-stars.
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