The last time Jared Miller pitched and won a game in the Northwest League, a bit more was at stake.
Miller baffled the Spokane Indians for six innings Friday night as the Hillsboro Hops cruised to a 10-3 victory at Avista Stadium 24 hours after losing the season opener in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Miller allowed three hits and one earned run, striking out nine and walking none while needing just 77 pitches.
“I was able to pitch off my fastball, which allowed my breaking ball to be good,” said Miller, a Vanderbilt product who won Game 1 of the NWL championship series at Vancouver last season for the Hops. “I was able to utilize my fastball and use both sides of the plate. Pretty low pitch count, I think it was in the high 70s, which is good. I feel good about not walking anyone.”
“He did a nice job,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of Miller. “He pitched well tonight. He commanded his fastball well and had a good, live fastball tonight. We had trouble laying off his breaking ball, as well. I don’t think the guys were seeing it well. He threw it in the zone and broke it in the dirt and we chased it a lot.”
Miller joined the Hops in mid-July last season and was 1-1 with a 3.58 earned-average in eight appearances, including five starts.
“I know I pitched (in Spokane) once, at least,” Miller said. “It’s not the best thing to be back in this league, but it’s cool to come to a place like this, with this crowd, and get to pitch in this environment. I just remember I gave up my first professional run in that game.”
The 6-foot-7 left-hander started this season with Kane County (Illinois) of the Midwest League but didn’t get in a groove. He went 2-3 with a 6.91 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.
“I was just up and down and consistency is the name of this game if you want to move,” he said. “We all have aspirations of playing in the big leagues, but they felt it was best to move me out here and be consistent.”
Through five innings, Miller allowed just an infield single while needing just 59 pitches. The Indians reached him for two runs in the sixth – one earned – but he exited with a 5-2 lead.
The Indians didn’t take advantage of the offensive flurry as the fourth Spokane pitcher, Tyler Davis of the University of Washington, was rocked for five runs in the eighth. Late-game replacements Nate Robertson and Fernery Ozuna did the damage – Robertson with a two-run double to left-center and Ozuna with a three-run homer off the “The Black Book” sign in the right-field Depot.
“We showed a little life in the bottom of the sixth,” Hulett said. “We put up two and had a guy in scoring position. Miller ran out of pitches, probably, and they got him out of the game, and it looked like we could have been in it, but we gave up the five-spot. It’s tough.”
The Indians, who committed three errors on Thursday, chalked up another three on Friday. A fourth potential error was changed to a double in a postgame scoring change.
The game drew 7,023 to beat the opening-night attendance by more than 500.
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