PASCO – Last year, the Spokane Indians’ season ended on a walk-off balk in the Northwest League Championship Series.
This year, it was a walk-off walk in the North Division playoffs.
After forcing extra innings with two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Indians’ Nic Laio issued a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th as the Tri-City Dust Devils came away with a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the best-of-3 series at Gesa Stadium.
The Dust Devils, who won 4-3 in 12 innings in the series opener before Spokane rebounded with a 5-1 victory Thursday, advanced to play the Hillsboro Hops in the NWLCS, which will begin Saturday in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Both of Spokane’s runs were unearned. With one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Alexander Ovalles grounded a single into right field. Kellen Strahm lined a single to left to put runners at first and second. Derwin Barreto reached base on an error by Tri-City shortstop Jordy Barley, allowing Ovalles to score to make it 2-1. Blaine Crim then grounded to third, but the Dust Devils were unable to turn a double play, leaving runners at the corners. David Garcia lined a run-scoring single to left to tie it at 2-2.
It was a disappointing finish for the Indians, who won the regular season’s first- and second-half titles.
Spokane went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the deciding game and stranded 12 on base.
Crim, named the league’s Most Valuable Player after batting .335 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs in the regular season, was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and left seven on base. Crim was 1 for 11 in the series.
Tri-City scored in each of the first two innings against Spokane starter Joshua Javier.
The left-hander retired the first two batters he faced in the first before walking the next two. Luke Becker then grounded a run-scoring single into right field.
Javier walked the leadoff batter in the second inning and was pulled for right-hander Luis Rosario.
Rosario struck out the first batter he faced before the runner advanced on a groundout. Reinaldo Ilarraza lined a run-scoring single to center to make it 2-0.
The Indians put runners in scoring position in the third through sixth innings to no avail.
Spokane’s best chance came in the sixth, when it loaded the bases with one out. Heriberto Hernandez, who homered in each of the first two games of the series, and Luis Asuncion both walked. After Kenen Irizarry struck out, Davis Wendzel lined a single to left. But pinch-hitter Jonah McReynolds struck out and Strahm flied out to left to end the threat.
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