Catcher Javier Guevara hasn’t been with the team for very long, but he came through in a big way Saturday night. And though the club had to cancel postgame fireworks this weekend due to the increased fire danger, the team on the field came up with some of its own.
Guevara delivered a key hit during a six-run rally in the eighth inning and the Spokane Indians came back from three down to beat the Tri-City Dust Devils 8-5 in the fifth of a six-game High-A West series at Avista Stadium on Saturday.
[BOX SCORE courtesy MILB.com]
After Tri-City scored three in the top of the eighth to take the lead, the Indians came back – big – in the bottom half.
Aaron Schunk and Michael Toglia drew one-out walks. A soft liner to left center by Brenton Doyle scored Schunk. Left fielder Gareth Morgan fumbled the pick-up so Toglia broke for third. The throw went over everyone’s head and Toglia jogged home while Doyle ended up at third.
“(Toglia) recognized it a little late, but he was aggressive, I liked that,” Indians manager Scott Little said. “And they forced the guy to hurry up and throw and it just, there was like a big pile up there and the ball just got away.
“To be sitting there three runs down and then two guys on and get a base hit in left field all sudden we have the tying run at third base in a matter of like five seconds was crazy.”
“I saw the left fielder, it kicked off his glove,” Toglia said, “and I already had a hard turn around second. As soon as I saw it kick out, I was gone.”
With the infield playing in, Hunter Stovall bounced one up the middle but shortstop Livan Soto couldn’t make the transition from glove to hand and Doyle slid home safely to tie it.
Stovall stole second, then with two down Guevara, who joined the team on June 29 when Willie MacIver was promoted to Hartford, lined one to left and while the throw beat the runner, Stovall slid to the infield side of home plate and avoided the tag at home for the go-ahead run.
“He’s a better hitter than he’s shown since he’s been here so I’m not shocked,” Little said of Guevara. “I think he’s a guy that can take the ball the other way really well, and if he continues with that approach he’s gonna get some hits.”
AJ Lewis drew a walk, then Jack Blomgren’s double plated two more to complete the six-run inning.
Dugan Darnell struck out the side in the ninth for the save and the team emptied the dugout in celebration.
“That was the most fun I’ve had all year, I think,” Toglia said. “It was electric. I mean we really came together as a team and got behind our hitters in the box, and our pitchers on the mound, and we got the job done.”
Right-handed starter Mitchell Kilkenny made his Avista Stadium debut after three roads starts for Spokane (25-28). He entered play at 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA, pitching into the sixth inning in each appearance.
He went six innings plus two batters and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He tossed five scoreless before allowing a homer to Francisco Del Valle in the seventh.
“He’s been really good since he’s been here” Little said of Kilkenny. “He’s throwing strikes, mixing things up and he’s going right at ‘em.”
In six starts for Low-A Fresno earlier this season, Kilkenny went 3-2 with a 1.45 ERA over 31 innings with 36 strikeouts against just five walks. The 24-year old was the 76th pick overall in the compensation round of the 2018 draft.
Kilkenny threw five types of pitches, all for strikes: a four-seam fastball at 92 mph, a two-seamer at 88, then a slider, changeup and curve. It’s somewhat of a rarity to see pitchers at High-A with that wide a variety in their repertoire.
“It’s hard having the five pitches,” Kilkenny said. “It makes working on the mound very hard. But it’s nice to have all of those as options, keeping the hitters off balance doing as best we can, and pitching on both sides of the plate.”
After Kilkenny delivered a 1-2-3 top of the first, the Indians got on the board in the bottom half. Blomgren led off with a walk, stole second, went to third on a balk and scored on a one-out single by Schunk.
Kilkenny cruised until the fifth. He gave up a one-out walk then Schunk misplayed a ball at second and all hands were safe. He came back to get the next two batters, including a nifty play at first by Toglia, who ranged far to his right on a grounder and made a spinning throw to Kilkenny covering at first.
AJ Lewis led off the bottom of the inning with a double, took third on a sacrifice and scored on tapper by Niko Decolati to make it 2-0.
Kilkenny picked up two more strikeouts in the sixth but ran out of gas in the seventh. Del Valle put one over the right field fair pole for a solo shot and then he walked Morgan.
“My goals are just one start at a time,” Kilkenny said. “You know, all the things that I really care about, I can’t control. So it’s really just a matter of showing up on my start days and doing the best I can, hoping to get a win for the team.”
Little lifted him in favor of Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, who picked up two outs before No. 9 hitter Keinner Pina lobbed one into center that plated Morgan to tie it up.
On the first pitch of the eighth, Brendon Davis launched a long solo shot to left center off Del Bonta-Smith. Jordyn Adams followed with a double into the right field corner and scored on an overthrow while he was trying to stretch it into a triple.
Consecutive doubles by Carlos Herrera and Del Valle put Tri-City (17-35) up 5-2 – and ended Del Bonta-Smith’s evening.
Around the league
Hillsboro 8, Eugene 5: Eduardo Diaz hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the Hops (21-30) topped the visiting Emeralds (33-19). Taylor Widener, on rehab assignment from the Arizona Diamondbacks, started for Hillsboro. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk over four innings.
Everett 11, Vancouver 5: Kaden Polcovich hit an eighth-inning grand slam and the AquaSox (33-18) beat the visiting Canadians (27-26). Austin Shenton hit a two-run homer in the first for Everett. Starter George Kirby struck out eight over five shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks.
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