So far this season, the Spokane Indians have been winning with timely hitting, strong starting pitching … and a little bit of good fortune.
They continued with the same recipe Saturday evening.
Obie Ricumstrict went 2 for 5 with three RBIs, starter Teodoro Ortega pitched four scoreless innings and the Spokane Indians beat the Boise Hawks 5-0 in the second of a four-game set at Avista Stadium.
The Indians (7-2) were the beneficiary of two balks, one of which scored a run.
Ricumstrict, who hit .193 in 33 games last season, is keeping things simple – and hitting .313 with a .421 on-base percentage.
“I mean, honestly, it’s just the preparation before the game, and my team having good at-bats behind me,” he said “I’m just getting my pitch and not missing it when I’m getting it.”
“He’s playing well,” manager Kenny Hook said. “He’s super athletic and it’s good to see all that athleticism actually come out in his play – the stuff he can do in the outfield, running, throwing – and he’s having really good at-bats.”
Things were quiet to start until the bottom of the second inning.
With the Indians’ Jake Hoover at first base following his first professional hit, Hawks lefty starter Breiling Eusebio coaxed a medium-deep fly ball to center by Starling Joseph for the second out of the inning, then on the first pitch to Indians catcher David Garcia, he was called for a balk.
As Hoover trotted to second, Eusebio motioned to his catcher, Bryant Quijada, to come to the mound for a conference.
After a brief conversation, Quijada motioned to the dugout, and Boise manager Steve Soliz and pitching coach Ryan Kibler came out with the training staff, along with home plate umpire Nathan Diederich. The group conferenced for several minutes, then Eusebio walked slowly off the field with a trainer.
Lefty reliever Wander Cabrera entered and walked Garcia, uncorked a wild pitch to allow both runners to move up, then hit Scott Kapers to load the bases. He went 3-2 to Kenen Irizarry, but bounced the payoff pitch to force in a run.
Ricumstrict followed and dumped a single into short right center to plate two runs and put runners on the corners. Cabrera then committed the second balk of the inning and Irizarry scored to make it 4-0.
In the third, Kellen Strahm beat out an infield hit to the right side and with one down stole second. But Cabrera struck out Blaine Crim and Hoover and Joseph flied out to medium right to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Ortega was cruising.
He walked No. 3 hitter Michael Toglia in the first and didn’t allow another base runner until two down in the fourth, when Aaron Schunk singled and Joe Aeilts walked. Ortega came back to get Bladimir Restituyo to fly to center to get out of the jam and end his night.
Ortega went four innings and allowed one hit and two walks with five strikeouts.
“Real strong,” Hook said of Ortega. “He mixed it super well. It was good to see him take notes from yesterday about their hitters and implement a plan going into the game.”
The Indians added on in the fourth. Garcia walked to lead off the bottom half and went to third on Irizarry’s bunt single. Ricumstrict bounced one through the hole to plate Garcia – his 12th RBI of the season in nine games.
Scott Williams, Luis Rosario and Juan Mejia combined for five innings of shutout relief and allowed one hit and no walks with four strikeouts.
“Those guys are anxious to get in the game and they come in filling up the strike zone,” Hook said. “You get ahead of hitters you’re going to have some success.”
Snapped: Jonah McReynolds went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts – the first game this season he failed to get a base hit.
First timers: Texas Rangers 2019 draft picks Strahm (fifth round), Crim (19th round) and Hoover (28th round) all made their pro debuts.
“They were excited,” Hook said. “We were excited to see what they can do, and they look promising, for sure.”
“It was good, man,” Hoover said of his first professional hit in the second inning. “I had a great time. It was good at-bat, just tried to put it back up the middle to be honest with you.”
Doing it all: In addition to his big night at the plate, Ricumstrict made a leaping catch – crashing into the left field wall – to rob extra bases and end the top of the eighth inning.
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