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Spokane Indians

Trent Fennell sparkles in spot start, late homers doom Spokane Indians in loss to Tri-City

Sometimes your day doesn’t go as planned – it happens to everybody. Most folks make the adjustment and go on with their day. 

Most baseball players, however, are rigid creatures of habit. Getting thrown off schedule can really mess with mechanics or mindset. 

But when scheduled Spokane Indians starter Nick Bush felt ill on Wednesday, Trent Fennell took the ball and got the job done – and then some.

Despite his heroic effort for five innings, Fennell wasn’t around when the game was decided.

Brendon Davis hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning, Carlos Herrera added a two-run shot two batters later, and the Tri-City Dust Devils edged the Indians 4-3 in the second of a six-game High-A series at Avista Stadium.

The home runs came off Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, who got the last out of the seventh to get the Indians out of jam, but that fortune didn’t carry over to the next inning.

The Indians scored two in the bottom of the eighth but didn’t find the equalizer.

Fennell found out at about 1:15 p.m. he was going to start. 

“It’s kind of all I was thinking about,” he said. “That’s probably the worst thing about the whole spot start, finding out early then thinking about it all day.”

Fennell did not allow a hit and issued one walk over five innings, striking out nine. The 25-year-old, who made his second start of the season in 16 appearances, entered play on with 23 strikeouts (and 13 walks) over 22 1/3 innings.

“I’m definitely going to be a little more sore tomorrow than a normal relief outing,” he said. “But I mean, I felt good out there. I had all three pitches working.”

Fennell through his changeup was the difference for him. 

“My slider has usually been my go-to pitch pretty much my whole life,” he said. “But tonight, the change was huge, and then I felt like I surprising them with the fastball in off-speed counts and the off-speed in fastball counts.”

Of the 16 appearances, 13 were of two or fewer innings. The five-inning stint tied a career high from 2018.

Fennell struck out two – both looking – in a 1-2-3 first, and picked up two swinging Ks while setting T-C down in order in the second. 

The Indians (22-28) got on the board in the third. Daniel Cope singled and went to third on a one-out single by Christopher Navarro. Isaac Collins hit a topper to third, but Carlos Herrera misplayed the slow roller and everyone was safe, with Cope scampering home.

Fennell struck out the side in the fourth, then got into some hot water in the fifth.

With one down he issued his first – and only – walk. Fennell coaxed a routine double-play ball to second, but Collins booted it and both runners were safe without a throw. Fennell came back to strike out Kyle Kasser and Collins redeemed himself with a nifty running throw on a grounder up the middle to keep it scoreless. 

“That was a heck of a play,” Fennell said. “It was awesome that he was able to pick himself up there. Good stuff.”

In the sixth, reliever Boby Johnson took over and allowed his first three batters to reach, the last of which came via an RBI double by Davis to tie it. He set down the next three to get out of the jam.

Johnson got into more trouble in the seventh and Del Bonta-Smith (0-1) came on with two on and two out. He got leadoff hitter Livan Soto to fly out to end the threat.

The eighth did not go as well.

Davis led off with his ninth homer of the season, then after Jordyn Adams reached via error and stole second, Herrera’s line-drive two-run shot gave the Dust Devils (17-32) the cushion they needed.

But it didn’t come easy.

Collins extended his hitting streak to 10 with an eighth-inning single, and he came around on a double by Aaron Schunk. 

Brenton Doyle then ripped a line drive into the left field corner that appeared to hit the plywood outfield wall, but home plate umpire Steven Rios Jr. called it foul. Indians manager Scott Little was incensed and was ejected after arguing the call twice. 

Doyle ended up walking, then Michael Toglia singled to right to plate Schunk and make it a one-run game.

It stayed that way through the ninth.

Around the league

Everett 2, Vancouver 1: Matt Brash pitched six shutout innings and the AquaSox (31-17) downed the visiting Canadians (26-24). Austin Shenton and Cade Marlowe knocked in runs for Everett.

Eugene 6, Hillsboro 3: Armani Smith hit two home runs with four RBIs and the visiting Emeralds (32-17) topped the Hops (19-29). Will Wilson hit a solo homer and an RBI single for Eugene. Drey Jamison tossed four innings of hitless relief for Hillsboro.