The Spokane Indians and Everett AquaSox entered play on Monday tied for first in the North Division of the Northwest League with eight games to play in the first half. The teams played a tense game on Sunday so it figured the middle game of the three-game set would be hotly contested as well.
It didn’t disappoint.
Jonah McReynolds hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to break a tie game and the Spokane Indians edged the Everett AquaSox 5-4 at Avista Stadium.
The Indians (17-14) moved one game ahead of the AquaSox (16-15) in the battle for the first-half title.
Daniel Robert (1-0) got the win with two shutout innings in relief.
“It was really fun,” McReynolds said. “It was a pretty big moment and a momentum shift. So it was really cool to just come through.”
McReynolds got behind reliever Brock Minich with a 1-2 count, then the umpires called time and congregated at the mound, pointing and looking at Minich’s left (glove) arm.
After a conference with Everett acting manager Carson Vitale – and an explanation for Indians skipper Kenny Hook – McReynolds drove the next pitch over the 365 foot sign in left center.
“He made some good pitches earlier in the count,” McReynolds said, “but he hung that one and, you know, I got a good swing on it.”
It was McReynolds’ second homer of the season and his first at home in three seasons.
“Big hit for the club, big hit momentum swing right there,” Hook said. “Huge, especially for a guy who’s been here before.”
Indians lefty starter Josh Javier went five innings – tying his season high. He struck out seven and allowed one run on one hit and three walks.
The Indians struck in the bottom of the first. Kellen Strahm led off with a single, took second on a balk, moved to third on groundout and scored on RBI single by Blaine Crim to give the Indians an early lead.
With one down in the third, Strahm got hold of one that carried over the right-center fence for his second homer of the season to put the Indians up 2-0.
The AquaSox cut into the lead in the fourth. Patrick Frick drew a walk to lead off and scored from first on a double to the left-center wall by Cash Gladfelter.
Cristian Inoa led off the fifth with a single, and with one out he stole second then took third on a throwing error by catcher Carter Bins. With Strahm facing a 2-1 count, home plate umpire Andrew Clark called a balk, allowing Inoa to jog home to make it 3-1.
With two down, Everett starter Damon Casetta-Stubbs went 2-2 to David Garcia and appeared to land awkwardly on his left leg. He was evaluated by trainers and stayed in to deliver two more pitches – neither of which were close to being a strike – and Vitale came out to pull him.
Luis Asuncion greeted reliever Ivan Fortunato with a drive to the wall in right that went for an RBI double and 4-1 lead. Jake Hoover thought he had extra bases with two on with a liner to right but Miguel Perez made a diving catch to end the inning.
Everett tied it in the seventh against reliever Juan Mejia.
With one down, Perez singled and Bins walked. Luis Joseph lined one down the left field line to plate a run. Mejia walked DeAires Moses to load the bases with two down, then Frick doubled to center to bring in two more.
It could have been worse, but Strahm made a strong throw and Jonah McReynolds made a “bang-bang” tag at third to nab Moses to keep it tied.
“Kellen made a great throw there to shift the momentum back on our side,” McReynolds said.
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