Scott Kapers hasn’t received a lot of playing time this season, as the Spokane Indians have carried three – or sometimes four – catchers on the roster all season. But in the midst of a first-half pennant chase, he came through in a big way on Wednesday.
Kapers, who played in nine of the first 32 games this season, went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs batted in – and a key sacrifice that contributed to the go-ahead run – as the Spokane Indians beat the Vancouver Canadians 6-5 to open a three-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium.
The Indians (19-14), who won their third straight one-run game, remain at least two games ahead of Everett with five games remaining in the first half. Everett played a late game at Tri-City.
“You know, our team came together well and we won again,” Kapers said. “That’s all we’re trying to do right now.”
The go-ahead run came in the bottom of the sixth after Vancouver erased a five-run deficit and tied it in the top half.
Starling Joseph led off with a single and Kapers bunted him over. Stanley Martinez swung wildly at strike three, but consecutive wild pitches allowed Joseph to move up, then score to make it 6-5.
Indians manager Kenny Hook said Kapers took it upon himself to sacrifice.
“That kind of speaks to the type of guy he is,” Hook said. “Just thinking, ‘Get that guy in scoring position,’ which ended up being huge for us.”
“Starling was on first base and we needed a run in that inning,” Kapers said. “I felt like, just get him over, he’s fast. Then anything can happen.”
Reliever Triston Polley kept Vancouver off the board in the final two innings for a save.
“I really like what Polley’s done,” Hook said. “I like the attitude he pitches with on the mound and that’s why we went to him in that one-run situation.”
Jonah McReynolds led off the Spokane second with a walk and went to third when Joseph reached on a fielding error. Joseph stole second, then Kapers ripped a liner to left-center for a single to plate both runners.
The Indians added a run in the third on Blaine Crim’s double and an RBI groundout by Tanner Gardner.
Meanwhile, Indians starter Leury Tejada was cruising. He departed after four innings, allowing no runs on two hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
The Indians added to the lead in the fourth. Kapers smacked a one-out double to left center and scored when Martinez reached on an error. Martinez took second on the error, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an overthrow by catcher Jesus Lopez.
Indians reliever Billy Layne Jr. entered in the fifth and loaded the bases with one out on a hit batter and two walks. Tanner Morris lashed a line drive down the right-field line that went for a double and plated two, and another run scored on a groundout to make it 5-3.
Lopez’s single to center brought in Morris and Hook came out to get Layne.
Vancouver’s Luis De Los Santos tied it in the sixth with a blast to right off Nic Laio – his first home run of the season.
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