The Spokane Indians dispelled the myth that they can’t beat left-handed starters.
It took a left-handed batter, Jamie Potts, to help make the case.
Potts homered off the scoreboard in right-center leading off the fourth inning Sunday to spark the Indians to a 4-3 victory over Salem-Keizer and Northwest League All-Star lefty Drew Leenhouts (6-3).
“I was kind of sitting on it,” said Potts, who finished 2 for 4 and reached base three times. “I actually hit a home run off the same guy when we played at Salem-Keizer, on the same pitch and the same count. It was a 1-1 slider that I was kind of sitting and waiting for, because I figured he’d throw it after he threw me a fastball and a changeup.”
“He’s hitting about .390 against lefties,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of Potts. “That’s why he’s in there.
“And we beat a lefty – maybe the first one all year. We haven’t fared well against them at all, at least a starting lefty. (Leenhouts is) really good. He pitched a complete game. He never really gave up that big inning where we could knock him out.”
The outcome improved Spokane’s second-half record to 9-9 and moved them within one game of North Division-leading Everett, which was no-hit by Eugene on Sunday. The Indians begin a three-game series at Everett tonight.
Spokane won the series 3-2 after the Volcanoes (10-8 second half) won the first two games by a combined 11-1. The Indians also won the season series 6-4.
Much like Saturday, when Spokane took advantage of four errors to score four unearned runs, the Indians scored three unearned runs off Leenhouts with the help of three errors.
A fielding error by shortstop C.J. Hinojosa in the second inning opened the door for Connor McKay’s two-out RBI triple to center field. It was the Indians’ first hit off S-K pitching in nine innings. McKay scored on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead.
After Potts’ fourth homer of the season boosted the lead to 3-1, the Indians scored an unearned run in the fifth. Doug Votolato led off with a single to left, moved to third on Yeyson Yrizarri’s single and scored when Hinojosa cut off the throw from right field and threw wildly to first attempting to get Yrizarri.
The Volcanoes rallied for two runs in the sixth against Dario Beltre, the Indians’ first reliever, as the game grew testy. Home-plate umpire Andy Stukel warned both benches after Beltre’s high-and-tight pitch to Hinojosa.
After Hulett argued his cause, Beltre threw a wild pitch to score Miguel Gomez and walked Hinojosa.
“There was a little chirping going on with one of their guys and he happened to be the guy at the plate,” Hulett said. “But we throw a slider that (Beltre) just overthrew and it was over his head. With first and third and a one-run game, we are definitely not trying to throw at someone. It’s not the time.”
Dan Scheibe (Whitworth University) spelled Beltre and limited the damage to one more run. He retired his final five batters before Jason Richman came on to set down the last five – three by strikeout – to record his first save.
Indians starter Peter Fairbanks (1-2) earned his first professional win with five innings of three-hit ball that included six strikeouts.
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