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Kenen Irizarry’s big day at plate helps Spokane Indians keep rolling

UPDATED: Sun., June 23, 2019

Kenen Irizarry (6) of the Spokane Indians puts the tag on Ezequiel Tovar (3) of the Boise Hawks at third base on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Avista Stadium. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Kenen Irizarry (6) of the Spokane Indians puts the tag on Ezequiel Tovar (3) of the Boise Hawks at third base on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Avista Stadium. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Kenen Irizarry might have had a little trouble in the field early in the game, but he more than made up for it at the plate.

Irizarry went 2 for 5 with three RBIs out of the No. 9 spot in the order and the Spokane Indians handled the Boise Hawks 9-1 in the third of a four-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium on Sunday.

The Indians (8-2) have a four-game lead in the North Division.

“Huge day for (Irizarry),” manager Kenny Hook said. “It’s good. His parents are here from Puerto Rico. So it’s exciting for him and I’m sure exciting for his parents.”

Normally positioned at second base, the 19-year-old Irizarry played third for the first time this season and the ball found him early, leading to a run in the first.

“In the infield, I made an error early but trusted my teammates,” he said. “And I when I go to the plate, I’m going to do my job. And tonight it felt good at the plate.”

In starter Josh Javier’s his first outing on the road at Vancouver, he struck out six over four innings and allowed just one hit and no walks. But on Sunday he got into trouble right away.

Leadoff hitter Isaac Collins hit a grounder that bounced past Irizarry at third and Ezequiel Tovar’s perfectly placed bunt put two on with no outs.

A walk to Michael Toglia loaded the bases and a ground out to third by Aaron Schunk brought in the game’s first run.

Javier walked Joe Aeilts to load the bases again with one down but the lanky lefty struck out the next two to escape further damage – but he needed 29 pitches in the frame, just 17 for strikes. Javier issued another free pass in the second and was up to 49 pitches.

The Indians’ starter found more trouble in the third.

Javier walked Toglia on a full count fastball, then Schunk’s grounder to third was booted by Irizarry. Boise tried to sacrifice, but Blaine Crim at first made a nice pickup and got the runner at third for the first out. After a fielder’s choice groundout – on Javier’s 71st pitch – manager Kenny Hook came out to get him.

Javier walked four in 2 2/3 innings, but only allowed two hits and one run.

Reliever Nic Laio came on and struck out Trevor Boone to end the inning.

“I think that infield hit there in the first kind of got (Javier) in a little rush and he tried to do too much,” Hook said. “But obviously you can see he’s got good stuff it’s just a matter of commanding it early on.”

With one down in the bottom half, Cristian Inoa smacked one through the hole, then stole second. He took third on a groundout and scored on Kellen Strahm’s broken-bat looper over the shortstop.

Strahm – the Texas Rangers’ fifth-round pick in this year’s draft – just joined the team on Friday.

“I only played in one game in (extended spring training) and this is my third game here,” he said. “You know, I’m just trying to get my my swing back together and my time back together, timing is the most important part.”

The Hawks (3-7) put runners at second and third with no outs in the fourth off Laio, but the reliever struck out Collins and Irizarry nailed Daniel Cope at the plate on a bouncer to third. Toglia lined out to right as Tanner Gardner made a falling catch to end the inning.

With one down in the fourth the bottom third of the order got things going. Jake Hoover drew a walk and went to second on a single by Francisco Ventura. Irizarry singled to center but the ball got by Bladimir Restituyo and both runners scored to make it 3-1.

The Indians extended the lead in the fifth. Strahm singled and moved up on a wild pitch and Starling Joseph walked. With two down, the Hawks switched pitchers and Stephen Jones hit Ventura with a pitch to load the bases.

Irizarry smacked a hard single to right and two runs scored, then Gardner singled past Toglia at first to plate another and the Indians led 6-1.

Spokane loaded the bases in the sixth on a pair of fielding errors and a single by Crim. Hoover tapped one roughly 15 feet in front of home plate, but Jones couldn’t handle the squibber and a run scored.

The hit parade continued in the seventh. Luis Asuncion singled to lead off and went to second on a walk by Inoa. Ryan Anderson delivered a single to left to bring home Asuncion and Inoa scored on a fielder’s choice to run the lead to 9-1.

Joseph was plunked and Crim followed with a single to load the bases again – but Hoover and Ventura struck out to end the rally.

Nic Laio pitched two innings of shutout relief and allowed two hits and a walk with three strikeouts to earn the win. Glen Richardson followed with 2 1/3 scoreless with three strikeouts and lefty Josh Smith tossed two perfect innings to finish up.

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