The home team is starting to make a habit of making come-from-behind wins at Avista Stadium.
Michael Toglia hit a three-run homer, his league-leading 14th, and the Spokane Indians came back to beat the visiting Vancouver Canadians 8-6 in the first of a six-game High-A West series at Avista Stadium on Tuesday.
The Indians (34-39) trailed 4-0 after the first seven batters of the game. They rallied for three runs in the sixth inning and four in the seventh.
“There’s a lot of confidence when we get down early we know that we got a chance to come back,” Toglia said. “But it’d be nice to jump on them and take an early lead.”
The win gives Spokane a one-game lead over the Canadians for third place in the league.
“This is an important series,” Toglia said. “If we can get four or five. I mean, six would be nice. That would be a huge amount of momentum moving forward. But we got to win tomorrow first before we do that.”
“We still got a lot of baseball to play,” Kyle Datres said. “If we can just get in a rhythm and kind of everyone put things together, the hitters and the pitchers play well on the same day, anything can happen.”
Trailing 5-1 entering the sixth inning, Daniel Montano led off the home half with a double, his second hit of the night. Niko Decolati drew a 10-pitch walk to bring up Toglia, the league RBI leader.
The switch-hitter, batting right-handed, blasted one off the caboose behind the right-center wall.
“As a hitter you want to take pride in using the whole field,” Toglia said. “And if you can start unlocking a little bit of power to the entire field, that’s when it gets a lot of fun.”
“You’re just sitting there going, ‘All he has to do it put a ball in the air and we’re back in his dadgum ballgame,’” Indians manager Scott Little said.
The Indians drew three free passes off reliever Will McAffer, but extra base bids by Daniel Cope and Jack Blomgren were run down at the track.
McAffer walked Montano and Decolati to lead off the seventh.
Tri-City brought on Parker Caracci to face Toglia, who just missed on a fly out deep to center, but Montano moved up a base. Aaron Schunk followed with a sacrifice fly, which plated Montano to tie it up.
Decolati stole second then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Hunter Stovall drew a four-pitch walk and he stole second.
Datres followed with a line drive single to left to plate both and the Indians took a 7-5 lead.
“Now that I’m starting to get a little bit more consistent at-bats I feel like things are starting to go my way a little bit more,” Datres said. “It’s tough when you’re playing here and there and to just try to stay consistent throughout the year.”
“He hadn’t played but three or four days a week at most, and he’s a guy that spells Big Mike (Toglia) over there, so he can get a DH every now and then,” Little said. “So (Datres) is a big part of our team and he’s an important part of our team and he’s, you know, he’s just a dirtbag baseball player.”
Datres took third on a wild pitch and scampered home on a throwing error by the catcher for a three-run margin.
“We got two there on the single, and then I was just trying to add one on there,” Datres said. “And then I saw the ball in the dirt so I took off for it and tried to make something happen and luckily it went my way.”
Dugan Darnell, the sixth Indians hurler of the night, allowed a run in the ninth but nailed down his fifth save.
Spokane starter Mitch Kilkenny hoped to follow an impressive outing last week in Tri-City, where he allowed one run on four hits over seven innings. But the 24-year-old righty was in trouble from the beginning.
Five of the first seven batters reached against Kilkenny and Indians manager Scott Little lifted him after 37 pitches.
“I have a lot of confidence when he goes out there,” Little said. “He just made too many pitches again and we had to take him out of the ballgame.”
All told, Kilkenny surrendered four runs on five hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. He did not record a strikeout. Two of his last three starts have been one inning or less.
“I mean it’s happened twice now,” Little said. “You don’t make some good pitches and, you know, it just seemed like the floodgates open. He couldn’t get it, he couldn’t make a pitch out over the plate.”
The Indians got on the board in the third on a solo home run by Cade Harris, his fifth of the season.
Meanwhile, reliever Moises Ceja was terrific. The 25-year old went four innings of relief and faced 16 batters. He allowed no runs on three hits a walk with two strikeouts.
“I’ve had Mo a couple of times (on other teams),” Little said. “And he is dependable. You know, he did get off to a rough start (this season), his numbers really don’t indicate how he’s throwing of late.
“He keeps us in baseball games so we do have a chance to come back.”
Caja ran out of gas in fifth and Little turned to Jake Sommers, who was greeted on his first pitch by a long home run by Philip Clarke, his first of the season.
The Indians stole six bases in the game. Spokane is second in the High-A West with 139.
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