LeDarious Clark’s batting slump may be mystifying, but it won’t stop him from hurting opponents in other ways.
Clark singlehandedly manufactured a run with his speed in the bottom of the 11th inning Saturday as his Spokane Indians edged the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 4-3 at Avista Stadium despite having no hits after the fourth inning.
“If I’m hitting it hard, right at people, I’ll take that,” said Clark, whose 8-for-65 slump has dropped his average from .436 to .294 since July 8. “I’m trying to get back in the groove and whatever happens, happens. … If I’m not hitting, I’ll try to bring other things to the table, which is on the basepaths and in the field.”
“The great thing about Clark is his speed can score you a run,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “All you have to do is get on base. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”
Clark took a pitch to the elbow from Ryan Halstead (1-2) with one out in the 11th.
Trying to keep Clark close to first base, Halstead threw slightly off-line. First baseman Chris Shaw couldn’t handle the throw, allowing Clark to move to second.
With Leon Byrd at the plate, Clark took off for third base. The throw from catcher Miguel Gomez eluded third baseman Jose Vizcaino Jr., allowing Clark to race home with Spokane’s second consecutive 11th-inning victory over the Volcanoes (10-7 Northwest League second half).
“As soon as I saw him drop it and saw the ball rolling toward the outfield, I knew it was over,” Clark said.
Volcanoes pitchers had retired 20 consecutive Indians when Clark was hit by the pitch.
“Any kind of strategy that gets us a win is good,” Hulett said.
Clark also helped save the day from his position in center field, chasing down C.J. Hinojosa’s liner into the gap in right-center to open the ninth.
“I was telling myself that I would try to dive for it, but I closed in pretty good on it,” Clark said. “Then I thought I heard (right fielder Connor McKay) saying, ‘I got it,’ but he was saying, ‘You got it. You got it.’ At the last minute I made an attempt to get it. It was pretty low, but I got it.”
Shaw, a first-round selection out of Boston College, played a pivotal role all night.
Shaw made two fielding errors that allowed Spokane to score three unearned runs off Luis Pino (0.33). After Shaw gave S-K a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth with a long home run, his error in the bottom of the fourth led to Todd McDonald’s lined, two-out, two-run homer to right for a 3-2 Indians edge.
Shaw again atoned with a two-out RBI single to right for a 3-all tie in the eighth.
Indians infielder Diego Cedeno was promoted to the Triple-A Round Rock (Texas) Express of the Pacific Coast League. Cedeno hit .236 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 32 games with Spokane this season. Last year, he hit .312 in 36 games with the Indians.
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