The temperature finally reached 70 degrees in Spokane Valley and almost on cue baseballs started flying out of Avista Stadium.
The Everett AquaSox and the Spokane Indians combined for eight home runs and 17 extra-base hits Thursday night.
Spokane built a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, then exploded for eight runs as the Indians downed the AquaSox 17-8 in the third game of a six-game Northwest League series. Everett leads the series 2-1.
Everett went to backup catcher Charlie Welch to pitch the eighth – and he was the most successful AquaSox pitcher, retiring the side in order.
Spokane’s Sterlin Thompson went 3 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs to raise his batting average to .473, second in the league. Benny Montgomery went 4 for 4 with three runs to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Zach Kokoska, Nic Kent and Jordan Beck all homered for the Indians (7-8).
“Oh, the ball flew tonight,” Thompson said. “It was awesome. It’s cool to see that because usually it doesn’t fly here, at least that’s the word. But it’s a great night. I think it’s great for the whole team to hit and we need nights like this to build confidence throughout the whole lineup.”
Every starter reached base and six had multiple hits.
“I’m feeling pretty good. It’s good to be back out here,” Montgomery said. “I know it’s early in the season but it’s good to be back out playing well, feeling good and hopefully only up from here.”
Montgomery started the season 1 for 11 but has hit .388 (19 for 49) in the subsequent 12 games.
“It was a little discouraging early on in the year, I barreled a few that just didn’t go out,” he said. “I thought I had to like, you know, hit the weights a little bit more. I was a little bit humbled. But now that it’s nicer, the ball’s carrying.”
Spokane winning pitcher Jarred Cande (1-0) went five innings and allowed six runs on six hits, including four homers, and struck out eight.
The AquaSox (10-7) went to reliever Tyler Driver in the fifth. With a run in on Adael Amador’s RBI single, the Indians loaded the bases when Montgomery took one off the hip. Thompson lined a double in the left-field corner to make it 12-6.
Fulford added a two-run double, Yanquiel Fernandez (3 for 5) doubled him in, and Beck ended Driver’s appearance with a two-run clout that cleared the netting behind the left-field wall. The Indians led 17-6 after five.
It was Beck’s first long ball of the season and the Rockies No. 10 prospect finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs. The 38th overall pick in the 2022 draft started the campaign 1 for 27 but is 7 for his last 19 (.368).
“It was great to see for our team just confidence-wise tp show we can do in the lineup,” Thompson said. “Day to day we just gotta keep doing what we do as a team and on nights like these it’s very fun when everything clicks together.”
The first Everett batter of the game, Jonatan Clase, started the home run parade, hitting the third pitch of the game off the facade of the caboose in right-center. It was his league-leading fifth of the season.
The Indians tied it in the bottom half on a two-out RBI single by Braxton Fulford.
With one on and one down in the second, Kokoska squared to bunt and appeared to be hit by the pitch, but it went as a foul-ball strike. Two pitches later, he hit a long two-run home run over the caboose.
Kent followed with a homer to the short porch in right.
With two down and one on, Thompson crushed third homer of the year to center for a 6-1 lead.
Seattle Mariners top prospect Harry Ford lined a two-run homer to right-center in the next inning to cut the lead in half, but Beck’s RBI double in the bottom half made it 7-3.
In the top of the fifth, Everett’s Randy Bednar hit a solo homer, and Clase hit his second of the night – a two-run shot. Clase finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs and three runs.
It was all Indians after that.