From staff reports
HILLSBORO, Ore. – There is no hotter hitter in the Northwest League than Yanquiel Fernandez.
The reigning NWL Player of the Month hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning, and the Spokane Indians beat the Hillsboro Hops 10-4 at Ron Tonkin Field on Thursday.
The Indians (29-24) have taken the first three games of the six-game series and the win allows them to retain at least a share of first place with Vancouver.
Last-place Hillsboro fell to 22-32.
Fernandez went 2 for 4 to raise his season average to .340.
The homer was his fourth in as many games, his 16th of the season and pushed his RBI total to 58 – both league-leading marks.
The 20-year-old outfielder from Cuba, ranked as the Colorado Rockies’ No. 10 prospect by MLB.com, led the Low-A California League last season with 109 RBIs and finished third in homers with 21 with Fresno.
Hillsboro starter Dylan Ray (1-4) issued back-to-back walks to Adael Amador and Benny Montgomery in the first inning. Sterlin Thompson singled to right field, scoring Amador, but Thompson was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Montgomery later scored on a wild pitch to put the Indians up 2-0.
Spokane loaded the bases with one down in the fourth. Nic Kent hit a liner off the top of the pitcher’s mound that bounced high in the air, allowing two runs to score.
Hillsboro went to the bullpen, but Braiden Ward hit a two-run double to left . Ward stole third base and scored on a throwing error by the catcher, giving the Indians a 7-0 lead .
The Hops’ Kevin Graham and Shane Muntz singled to lead off the fifth. Indians starter Jarrod Cande fought back to get two outs, but Wilderd Patino lined a two-run single to center.
Hillsboro made it 7-4 in the sixth on J.J. D’Orazio’s RBI triple and a sacrifice fly.
Cande (4-1) went six innings and allowed four runs on six hits, striking out five and walking one. He threw 89 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Ward (2 for 3, two RBIs) led off the seventh with a single and Amador walked. With two down, Fernandez put the game away by lining a three-run homer to right .
The series continues Friday at 1:05 p.m.