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Drew Romo collects 5 RBIs, Mike Ruff blanks Everett as Spokane Indians take first game of series

The Spokane Indians won five of six last week against Eugene to move into first place in the Northwest League standings.

The start of a new week brings another victory.

Mike Ruff tossed six scoreless innings, Drew Romo had a five-RBI night and the Indians beat the Everett AquaSox 9-3 in the first of a six-game series at Avista Stadium.

Spokane (22-16) has won six of seven after losing four in a row to end its last road trip.

“We didn’t catch any breaks the week before,” Indians manager Scott Little said.

“We caught a bunch of breaks last week and hopefully we can make our own breaks this week.”

The Indians pounded out 13 hits, led by Romo with a homer and a triple. His five RBIs moved him into second in the league with 28 and his .318 batting average is second.

“Feels great,” Romo said. “Good start to the week. Let’s keep it going.”

When Romo was drafted in 2020 he had a reputation as a “glove-first” catcher.

“I haven’t been seeing that guy,” Little said. “I’ve seen a pretty good defensive guy and a pretty good hitter.”

Ruff allowed three hits and three walks in his six innings and struck out three.

The loudest contact Ruff allowed in the appearance was when Seattle Mariners top prospect Noelvi Marte ripped a double to center on the first pitch of the game.

Ruff picked off Marte for the first out of the inning, then mowed through the AquaSox (16-22) lineup, allowing just two other batters to reach second.

“How do you complain about a guy who puts up six zeros?” Little asked. “There’s nothing really you can say about that because all he does is compete and throw a shutout.”

Pitching coach Ryan Kibler said despite the success Ruff didn’t have his best stuff.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of pitching going on tonight, that looked like some throwing,” Kibler said. “Hate to see walks like that with a lead. He knows that but needs to gather himself and get back to pitching.

“It’s good to see his change-up show up tonight – it’s a pitch he’s been working on, he’s got that run away from left handed hitters. That was a positive.”

The Indians got on the board in the second. Grant Lavigne led off with a single and scored from first on a double to the wall in center off the bat of Daniel Montano.

They added on in the third – in a big way. Eddy Diaz singled, then stole second and third and Zac Veen walked and stole second. All the daring on the base paths didn’t matter, though, as Romo slugged a three-run homer to right-center, allowing the base runners to walk home.

“I was just looking fastball and he left a change-up up over the middle and I just hit it pretty good,” Romo said. “I got good extension through and hit it in the air.”

The top of the order did damage again in the fifth. Diaz singled to lead off and went to third on a single by Veen. Romo ripped a liner down the right-field line and motored his way to third for a two-run triple.

“My quads were so tired,” Romo said.

Lavigne clubbed a double to the wall in center to score Romo, then the first baseman rumbled home on a single by Montano for an 8-0 lead.

Game notes

• No relief: Reliever Boby Johnson was shaky in his one inning, allowing three runs on two hits and two walks, including a two-run home run by Victor Labrada, and hit a batter.

In 10 appearances this season, Johnson has allowed 11 earned runs, a 9.90 ERA.

“Boby’s got to slow it down out there and execute pitch after pitch,” Kibler said. “The plan was to throw a couple change-ups, it’s a pitch he’s working on and that’s what got hit out of the ballpark.”

• Spark plug: Diaz went 3 for 4 with two stolen bases and two runs.

He has hits in six of the seven games of the homestand with five runs and four steals over the period.

Diaz leads the league in stolen bases with 14.