The Spokane Indians executed a perfect hit-and-run play in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday.
Tyler Sanchez hit the ball, and he and base runner Dylan Moore ran home.
Sanchez’s no-out, two-run home run to left field gave the Indians a 4-2 victory over the Hillsboro Hops at Avista Stadium. The big blast, Spokane’s first of the Northwest League season, tied the opening series at two wins apiece with the rubber game coming tonight.
Moore led off the ninth with a routine grounder that third baseman Nic Coffman couldn’t handle. With Moore at first base, Sanchez, the Indians’ catcher, jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Myles Smith (0-1) and lined a homer for Spokane’s second walk-off win of the short season. Moore’s two-out RBI single in the ninth inning won Thursday’s opener.
“We were hitting-and-running,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “That’s a good one. He hit it and he ran. … Good approach. He had a nice, quick swing and didn’t look like he was trying to hit a home run. He was just trying to hit the ball hard and get (Moore) moving.”
“With the hit-and-run, I was swinging at anything, really,” said Sanchez, who was just drafted in the 17th round out of St. John’s University. “Luckily, I got a pitch in my zone and I hit it pretty well. … It felt pretty good off the bat.”
The Indians had dropped the previous two games with some spotty pitching and shaky defense. Spokane had committed 11 errors during its first three games, including five in Saturday’s loss, but the Indians played error-free on Sunday to help their pitchers keep the Hops in check.
“We actually swung the bats really competitive today, but I think the big key is we had great pitching today,” Hulett said. “The pitchers really went after guys, and defensively, that goose egg up there (on the scoreboard) looks good. We’ve been averaging quite a few each game, so I think that’s the biggest difference, especially in a tight ballgame like that.”
“After last night, when I think we had five errors, to come back today and have zero errors on the board, that’s huge, man, huge,” Sanchez said. “A lot of our guys came out and threw strikes, threw hard, commanded the zone and made good pitches when they wanted to. That’s all you can really ask for.”
Starters Carlos Hernandez of Hillsboro and Spokane’s Nick Green dominated the early part of the game, which was tied at 1 after six innings.
Hernandez pitched six innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs, while striking out seven and walking none. Two errors by Hops shortstop Sergio Alcantara in the fourth allowed Spokane to tie the game on Ledarius Clark’s infield single.
Green allowed three singles in five innings. Sanchez’s passed ball in the second allowed the Hops to move into scoring position for Coffman’s RBI groundout, a chopper out front of the plate.
Moore doubled and scored on another Alcantara error for a 2-1 lead in the seventh. Zach Nehrir’s two-out RBI single to center tied the game at 2 in the eighth, setting up Sanchez’s big moment.
“Let’s hope this isn’t the only way we win games,” Hulett said. “I’d like to have a five- or six-run win sometime here.”
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