It’s been a tough week weatherwise for the Inland Northwest with chilly temperatures and rain, hail and even some snow plaguing outdoor activities all week.
On Sunday – after even more scattered mixed precipitation just before game time – the skies finally parted, allowing the sun to shine on Avista Stadium long enough for the Spokane Indians and the Tri-City Dust Devils to get a couple of games in.
Maybe the Dust Devils would have preferred the alternative.
Colin Simpson homered, Joe Rock provided six strong innings on the hill and the Indians swept a nontraditional doubleheader – and the shortened four-game series – by taking the seven-inning second game over the Dust Devils 6-1 on Sunday.
The Indians (15-11) won the early game 5-4, coming back with two runs in the bottom of the ninth. The first game on Sunday was a continuation of Friday’s postponement, starting with Tri-City leading 1-0 with two down in the top of the second inning.
Scheduled games for Thursday and Saturday were canceled due to weather and field conditions. The games will not be made up as Tri-City does not make another trip to Spokane in the first half.
“We didn’t know if we were ever going to (play),” Indians manager Scott Little said. “Still it was, I don’t know whatever you want to call whatever the heck it was doing – it was hailing, sleeting or whatever. But we did get ’em in finally. It turned out to be a nice day.”
Simpson was philosophical about it.
“You’ve just got to take what you get,” he said. “I mean, if Mother Nature brings you rain and you can’t play, then you can’t play and you just got to move on to the next day.”
The Indians have won eight out of 10 and 13 of their last 16 games. They lead the Northwest League by two games over three other teams.
“It feels good anytime you get a win but especially a series win,” Rock said. “We came in and did business and took care of it.”
“We’ve all been bunched up (at the top of the standings),” Little said. “Two- or three -game swings are gonna catapult you or put you behind, but then you’re gonna go to the next series and the same (stuff) happens there. So yeah, it’s good to get the wins.”
Rock said he wasn’t bothered by the weather.
“I didn’t know when I would pitch, but I knew today was gonna be nice weather so I just had to stay locked in.”
Simpson gave the Indians an early 2-0 lead with a smash off the scoreboard above the right center wall with Drew Romo aboard.
Tri-City (11-13) got one back in the third. Steven Rivas led off the frame with a line-drive single and scored on a two-out single by Jordyn Adams.
Simpson drew a walk to lead off the fourth, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a double off the left field wall by Bladimir Restituyo. The speedy centerfielder stole third and scored on a groundout to make it 4-1.
Spokane made it 6-1 in the fifth when Zac Veen singled through a drawn-in infield to plate two.
Rock cruised through six innings. The 21-year-old left-hander allowed one run on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Only one batter reached second base.
“I felt good, I had everything working,” Rock said. “I really found the change-up last week so I was able to incorporate it a lot more this week, which is a really good step for me.”
In the early game, Julio Carreras led off the ninth-inning rally with a double down the left field line. Christopher Navarro sacrificed Carreras to third and Eddy Diaz followed with a triple over the head of centerfielder Jordyn Adams to tie it.
Veen hit a hard grounder to second, but the speedy Diaz slid around the tag at home with the winning run.
“Outstanding,” Little said. “He got the big knock to tie the baseball game then he was on a contact play and you know, he’s got that speed and he made it. He eluded the tag with a great slide, man. Great walkoff.”
Already trailing when the game began, the Indians tied it in the third as Diaz singled and later scored on a fielder’s choice.
Indians pitcher Andrew Quezada allowed a solo homer to Gabe Matthews and a two-run shot to Christian Molfetta in the fourth.
In the seventh, Simpson came on as a pinch-hitter and delivered an RBI single, then Veen’s sacrifice fly made it a one-run game.
“It’s always a confidence boost when a team comes in here when they’re rolling pretty good,” Simpson said, “and you kind of steamroll over ’em, you know, it’s a pretty good confidence booster. It feels good and it definitely keeps that team morale high.”Game notes
• For starters: Quezada, who started in 16 of 18 professional appearances, was the third pitcher in the first game, following Friday’s starter Evan Shawver and Anderson Bido, who came on to “start” on Sunday and recorded one out to end the second inning.
Quezada went five innings and allowed three runs on four hits – with two homers – and two walks with two strikeouts.
“There’s a couple of our guys that need the edges and sometimes the umpires won’t call them,” Little said. “It’s just their zone. And we got to just keep the ball down. (Quezada) left some pitches up and over plate and it didn’t even sound like they were hit that hard and they both flew out of the park easily.”
• Streak snapped: It took three rainouts and 7 1/2 innings of makeup baseball on Sunday, but Drew Romo’s 10-game hitting streak was snapped when he went 0 for 3 with a walk in the first game. He went 10 for 30 with five walks, two homers and nine RBIs during the streak.
Romo went 1 for 3 in the second game and is hitting .326 for the season.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.