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Spokane Indians can’t complete comeback, fall in series finale to Salem-Keizer 7-6

UPDATED: Wed., July 3, 2019, 11:14 p.m.

Spokane Indians outfielder Luis Asuncion reacts to striking out during the game against Salem-Keizer on Wednesday, July, 3, 2019, at Avista Stadium in Spokane. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Indians outfielder Luis Asuncion reacts to striking out during the game against Salem-Keizer on Wednesday, July, 3, 2019, at Avista Stadium in Spokane. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

There was a fireworks display after the game to celebrate the country’s birthday. The team’s offenses provided some on the field as well – at least early on.

Franklin Labour hit his fifth home run in three games and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes beat the Spokane Indians 7-6 in the finale of a three-game Northwest League series before a sellout crowd at Avista Stadium on Wednesday.

Tyler Flores added a three-run shot for the Volcanoes (13-7), while the Indians fell to 10-10 after starting the season 9-2. Spokane has lost eight of its last nine games and is tied with Tri-City for first in the North Division.

The Indians had the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings.

“I mean, it’s not necessarily frustrating,” manager Kenny Hook said. “It’s just, you know, those at-bats are crucial; It’s part of the development for these kids understand in those situations to not try to do more – kind of simplify and just get the barrel to the ball and not try to do too much.”

“It is frustrating since I was one of the people that didn’t put in play,” said outfielder Kellen Strahm. “There’s a lot of opportunities to score there. I mean, we had opportunities throughout the game. So it’s not one inning or one at-bat. So it’s frustrating.

“But you know, just go back to work.”

Justin Slaten, the Texas Rangers’ third-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of New Mexico, made one appearance for the Indians on June 26 and was roughed up. His outing on Wednesday didn’t go any better.

Slaten walked the first two batters of the game. He retired the next two but left a fastball over the plate to Tyler Flores, who lofted it just past the fence in right for a three-run homer, just out of the reach of outfielder Starling Joseph.

“A lot of times starting out the game, when you can’t command the ball early, you put yourself in situation where the pitch count gets really high and you’re giving guys free bases,” Hook said. “So you’re going to have traffic and it’s going to be tough. It’s a lot of high-leverage pitches early on in the game.”

The Indians answered right away against Alex DuBord.

Strahm led off with a single and went to second when Luis Asuncion dumped a single into right. Ryan Anderson singled to center to plate Strahm, and when centerfielder Kwan Adkins bobbled the pickup, both runners moved up a base.

Jonah McReynolds followed with a line-drive single to center to score Asuncion, then Cristian Inoa ripped a double into the left-field corner for a two-run double and 4-3 lead.

Strahm led off the second with a single, stole second, took third on a sac fly and scored on a throwing error.

Labour hurt the Indians again in the third, hitting his fifth home run in the three-game series and 10th of the season – a solo shot.

The Volcanoes received another solo homer in the fourth when Kwan Adkins lofted a two-out big fly to right, his first of the season, to tie it at 5-5.

The Indians loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half on a double by Jake Hoover, a walk to Strahm and an error. Anderson drew a free pass to force in a run but McReynolds struck out and Joseph hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

In the sixth, S-K tied it when Hoover couldn’t handle a grounder with a runner at third, allowing the runner to score. Later in the inning with runners at second and third, Alex Canario bounced to Hoover, and the shortstop made a perfect throw to home to prevent another run.

Reliever Sam Hellinger entered and walked Ricardo Genoves to bring up Labour with the bases loaded. The count ran full, and Hellinger reached back and blew a high fastball by Labour to get out of the jam.

But Hellinger got into a jam in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. A run scored on a groundout to short, and the former Gonzaga pitcher escaped with no more damage, but it proved to be the winning run.

Hoover led off the eighth with a triple, but Strahm and Obie Ricumstrict struck out, and Asuncion lined out to leave the tying run stranded. With two down in the ninth, Joseph reached on a single and Inoa was hit with a pitch, but Scott Kapers flied out to end the game.

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