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Spokane Indians

Spokane Indians return home with 5-2 victory over Everett

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

If the Spokane Indians are going to turn around their season – and it is only May, after all, with more than 100 games left – then a series-opening victory over the league-leading Everett AquaSox was a good way to begin that about-face.

The Indians got a pair of seventh-inning home runs from Niko Decolati and Willie MacIver to cap a comeback 5-2 victory Tuesday at Avista Stadium, ending their five-game losing streak.

It was the first of six games this series between the two teams from the High-A West league, and the victory improved Spokane to 3-10. The AquaSox dropped to 10-3.

Decolati’s home run was his first of the season, and it gave the Indians a lead after falling behind 2-0 early. Decolati hadn’t homered since 2019, as the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out by the pandemic.

“I told the guys, that was a big rush of endorphins there,” Decolati said. “It was nice to get that out of the way, and a good time for it.”

Indians starter David Hill worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, settled down and pitched two more scoreless innings. He gave way to relief pitcher Derrik Watson with two outs in the fourth, and Watson promptly surrendered a solo home run to Jack Larsen, giving the AquaSox a 1-0 lead.

Everett loaded the bases once more in the sixth inning, this time with no outs, thanks to an Indians error followed by a pair of singles. Larsen grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that scored Tyler Keenan for a 2-0 lead, but that was all the damage: Boby Johnson struck out Connor Hoover to end the threat.

“That one inning with Boby really could have really turned bad, and he got the big double-play ball,” Indians manager Scott Little said.

Brenton Doyle opened the bottom of the sixth with a lineout, but Michael Toglia, MacIver and Kyle Datres walked in succession to load the bases. After Hunter Stovall struck out, Johnny Cresto drew a run-scoring walk, and then Cade Harris was hit by a pitch to tie the game at 2.

“We got sparked by the two-run inning where they walked us. Because let me tell you: That was big for us,” Little said. “(Teams have) tried to give us rallies early in the season and we wouldn’t take them because we swung through those pitches. We made outs.

“I think a lot of us were starting slow, and we’re getting better now.”

Riley Pint (1-0) faced just three Everett batters in the top of the seventh – inducing another double play – and preserved the 2-2 tie.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Decolati launched his home run to center to give Spokane a 3-2 lead. Doyle doubled on the next pitch, and two batters later MacIver homered to nearly the same spot to expand the Indians’ lead to 5-2.

Both home runs came off Tyler Driver (1-1), who became the first AquaSox reliever to take a loss this season.

PJ Poulin pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Indians, and in the ninth Shelby Lackey worked around a lead-off walk to earn his first save of the season.

In all, the Indians drew eight walks, and the two home runs helped them overcome their 1-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position.

Defensively they turned the two double plays, and their pitching staff struck out 15 batters.

It was an encouraging overall performance for a team that has struggled to put together many complete games this season.

“That’s just how baseball is, it’s a long season,” Decolati said. “The team that can get everything firing on all cylinders for as long as possible without peaks and valleys is the team that’s gonna do well.

“We started low, set the bar low, and we can’t just jump to the top. We kinda gotta work our way and get our feet underneath us.”

They will look to put together their first winning streak of the season when the two teams meet again Wednesday night.