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Sports >  Spokane Indians

Zac Veen homers twice, Spokane Indians start homestand with 9-2 win over Hillsboro

UPDATED: Tue., June 14, 2022

Every prospect, even one ranked as high as No. 29 overall in the minor leagues, goes through ups and downs. Colorado Rockies top prospect Zac Veen is no different.

Entering Tuesday’s game, the 20-year-old had hit .180/.304/.231 with just two extra-base hits in 46 plate appearances in June. If anyone was due for a breakout, it was Veen.

Break out he did.

Veen homered twice, including a three-run clout in the second inning, and the Spokane Indians beat the Hillsboro Hops 9-2 in the first game of a six-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium.

“It was definitely a well-needed win,” Veen said. “And I think on both sides of the ball, we did our part. So, you know, we’re gonna keep carrying this momentum for the rest of the week.”

Veen isn’t one to dwell on slumps.

“Last week, I felt I hit some balls hard, just right at guys,” he said. “So it was good to see them fall, you know, fall in a big way. So it was it was definitely a good game.”

“I’m not too worried about Veen (slumping),” Indians manager Scott Little said. “He doesn’t care. He gets out there, every day the same guy. He’s fun to watch. He got into a couple tonight, that’s for sure.”

Veen thinks he’s matured in his approach from even last year in Low-A.

“Last year, I went through it a little bit and I just kind of got away from, you know, what’s really important in the game, and that’s just playing hard every day and everything else falls into place,” Veen said. “You know, you can get two lucky hits one day and then line out four times the next.”

After a 1-2-3 inning by starter Mike Ruff (5-4) in the first, the Indians (29-27) got on the board in the bottom half. Eddy Diaz drew a one-out walk, moved to second on an infield error and scored on a line-drive single by Grant Lavigne.

The Indians added on in the second, as Julio Carreras led off with a walk and scored on a double by Robby Martin Jr. The throw home got away and Martin moved up to third.

Diaz was hit by a pitch, then Veen showed off the power that enticed the parent club Colorado Rockies to draft him in the first round in 2020, clubbing a three-run homer over the scoreboard in right-center for his sixth of the season and a 5-0 lead.

Lavigne led off the third with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Carreras. Veen’s solo shot to the opposite field in the fifth made it 7-0.

The Hops, who have lost nine in a row, fell to 26-30.

Game notes

• Home cookin’: The Indians got back on track after losing five of six on the recently concluded road trip. For the season, Spokane is 18-8 at Avista Stadium and 11-19 on the road.

“It feels really good to be back,” Ruff said. “Yeah, definitely a rough road trip. So I’m happy we’re here for the two weeks and we get to enjoy Spokane a little bit.”

“We were 4-8 on the trip and had we not self-destructed a few times we could have walked away with six or seven wins,” Little said. “That’s just how it goes with baseball. We didn’t play well enough to win. It’s good to be back here. And you know, the kids had a good game tonight.”

• Calm down: Ruff got into trouble in the third with runners at first and second with no outs. Catcher Drew Romo went out for a chat, then Ruff came back to get out of the inning unscathed.

“We had a really good plan before the game and (Romo) just got me back to, ‘Let’s just stick with that plan,’ ” Ruff said. “You know, don’t get ahead of yourself. Just kind of just execute what we already talked about for the game.”

• Ruff finish: Ruff put up zeros until the sixth, when he gave up a solo homer, a walk and a double off the base of the wall for two runs.

“I think I made a couple of mistakes with with some pitches but I don’t think I ran out of gas,” Ruff said. “I still thought my stuff was there, just just a couple mistake pitches which which I was able to execute earlier in the game.”

All told, Ruff allowed two runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts in six innings.

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