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Spokane Indians lose on walk-off balk; Eugene takes Northwest League championship series

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 11, 2018

From staff reports

EUGENE – Just when you think you’ve seen everything in baseball, it shows you something new.

Spokane Indians all-star closer Emmanuel Clase balked with the bases loaded and two down in the bottom of the ninth as the Eugene Emeralds posted a 3-2 win in Game 3 to sweep the Indians in the Northwest League Championship Series at PK Park on Tuesday.

Clase stumbled off the mound while delivering the first pitch to Eugene’s Nelson Velazquez.

Eugene, which has played in the past three consecutive seasons in the championship series, won its second title during that span.

The Emeralds trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Sierra and Fernando Kelli singled and Clase hit pinch-hitter Jake Slaughter to load the bases.

With two down, Andy Weber walked on a full count, forcing in the tying run. Clase failed to step off the mound correctly on his first pitch to Nelson Velazquez, allowing the winning run to cross the plate.

The Indians went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 on base.

Indians lefty starter John King, 23, made just his third appearance for the Indians and allowed one unearned run on three hits and no walks over five innings, striking out four.

Eugene got its run against King in the first on a double by Velazquez and an error by Jax Biggers on a routine grounder to short.

Diosbel Arias reached base leading off the second on a strikeout and wild pitch, then moved up to second on a throwing error by the catcher. Sherten Apostel cashed the run in immediately with a hard single to right.

After a strikeout, Francisco Ventura ripped a ground-rule double to put runners at second and third – but Starling Joseph and Isaias Quiroz struck out to end the rally.

The Emeralds got back-to-back singles to start the bottom half, but King induced a 6-4-3 double play and another ground out to get out of the jam.

Apostel gave the Indians the lead in the fourth with a long home run.

, his second with the club.

The Indians got two runners on via walk with two down in the seventh, but NWL MVP Curtis Terry lined out to center to end the threat.

In the ninth, the Indians got two runners on with one out, and with two down Terry drew a walk to load the bases. Diosbel Arias flied out to right and went 1 for 12 in the championship series,

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