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Sports >  Spokane Indians

Zac Veen breaks out of slump, Spokane Indians take fifth out of six against Eugene

UPDATED: Sun., May 22, 2022

The first genuinely nice day at the ballpark this year weather-wise resembled something of a home run derby – at least until both starting pitchers had left the game.

The teams combined for five homers and 12 runs through the first three innings, after which both starters were replaced and the game returned to a more moderately paced affair.

In the end, the home team got the better of it.

Zac Veen went 2 for 4 with a homer, double and two RBIs and the Spokane Indians beat the Eugene Emeralds 9-7 in the finale of a six-game High-A Northwest League series at Avista Stadium on Sunday.

Colin Simpson added a home run and three RBIs for the Indians (21-16), who took five of six in the series and retained their hold on first place in the league. They lost four straight on the road last week.

“When you can get ahead early and get the momentum on your side, it’s a lot easier for the hitters,” Veen said. “It was good to get off to that start and keep it rolling.”

“We’re getting the bats a lot better than the last series,” Indians manager Scott Little said. “I don’t think we executed real well today, we left some couple guys out there. They took advantage of some pitches up in the zone and, man, it was a ballgame.”

The Indians wasted no time jumping on Ems starter Ty Weber in the first inning. Veen ripped a one-out double into the right field corner and Julio Carreras followed with a homer to the short porch, his fourth of the season and third of the homestand.

Grant Lavigne tripled over the head of centerfielder Ghordy Santos and scored on an RBI single by Ronaiker Palma to make it 3-0.

Veen has struggled the past 10 days, but felt relief contributing in the first inning.

“It felt really good,” he said. “Really good way to get the day started and, you know, happy to find a barrel early so it was nice.”

“He’s working on getting back to some things he had a lot of success with,” Little said. “I think we’re gonna see the Zac Veen that we know real soon.”

In the second, Veen turned on a 2-0 fastball and crushed it over the scoreboard in right center for a two-run homer – his fourth of the season – and a 5-0 lead.

Indians starter Andrew Quezada couldn’t handle the prosperity.

Jimmy Glowenke singled and Ghordy Santos doubled off the top of the wall to lead off the third, then – after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Ryan Kibler – Hunter Bishop cranked one off the billboard above the left-center wall for a three-run homer.

Marco Luciano singled and two batters later, Jairo Pomares sent one over the wall in straightaway center and the game was tied.

Quezada finished the inning but didn’t return for the fourth. He allowed five runs on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Simpson launched a two-run shot to the opposite field in the third for his fifth homer of the campaign to restore a two-run lead.

The Emeralds (17-17) loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth against reliever Austin Kitchen, but just one run scored after a double play and ground out limited the damage.

Simpson delivered a bases-loaded RBI single in the seventh for insurance.

Four relievers combined for six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

“That’s a pitching coach’s dream right there,” Kibler said. “For the bullpen to do that, while the offense is doing their thing… That’s a hell of a day for the pitching staff.”

Game notes

• Back on track: Before Zac Veen’s double in the first inning, the Colorado Rockies’ top prospect had four hits in his previous 34 at-bats, lowering his season average from a high of .293 on May 11 to .261 entering play.

“I think my process and my preparation has been really good,” Veen said. “So it was nice to see some balls fall finally and you know, just gonna keep getting after it.”

• Leaving early: The Indians caught a break in the second inning. The Ems got back-to-back singles to lead off the frame, putting Quezada into hot water. Carter Williams flied to center to momentarily move a runner to third, but on appeal base umpire Kellen Martin ruled Jairo Pomares left the base early and it turned into a double-play.

Quezada then got out of the inning with a groundout.

• Up and down: Quezada has made seven starts this season, four with two earned runs allowed or fewer, and three with four or more.

Kibler would like to see more consistency.

“He’s got to locate and when he doesn’t locate, they do some damage,” Kibler said. “Just like today, the off-speed pitches were up.

“After that second home run, you could tell he kind of got enough of it. I think he threw six fastballs in a row as hard as he could and got out of the inning. The adjustment happened too late.”

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