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Spokane Indians

Chase Dollander shines on the mound as Indians rout Hops 8-1

Spokane’s offense had a consistent night and the Indians’ star pitcher sparkled during a well-rounded win.

Facing one of the Northwest League’s top pitchers, Spokane’s lineup came alive early. And the Indians’ bats stayed steady as the game progressed, stretching the lead in the later innings.

Meanwhile, Spokane starter Chase Dollander recorded perhaps the best pitching performance of his young and promising career as the Indians cruised to an 8-1 victory over the visiting Hillsboro Hops on a comfortable Friday evening at Avista Stadium.

Hops starter Avery Short entered the game boasting the top earned-run average in the NWL (1.69). He had surrendered just five runs in five appearances throughout May – Short allowed one run over seven innings during a win over Spokane on May 10.

In the rematch, the Indians (29-22) drove in four runs against Short (2-4), who was pulled after four innings.

Spokane third baseman Kyle Karros, the NWL’s leader in runs batted in (38), opened the scoring with a long solo home run to center field in the first inning.

“I definitely knew that I got it good,” Karros said. “I think (the success against Short) comes from facing him before. I knew what I was looking for. Same with the other guys on the squad – we’ve seen him before. He had success against us last time. We knew he was going to stick with his same game plan, and we were able to win this matchup.”

The Indians extended their lead to 4-0 in the third . They opened with back-to-back walks, then got Jack Blomgren’s sacrifice fly, Karros’ RBI single and Juan Guerrero’s run-scoring triple – the outfielder’s first triple of the season.

Spokane second baseman Jean Perez led off the fifth with a double, and Hillsboro (26-27) was forced to pull Short, who had arguably his toughest outing of the year.

The left-hander surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out seven. He threw 73 pitches, 48 for strikes.

Blomgren added another sacrifice fly in the fifth. Jesus Bugarin and Robby Martin Jr. added RBI singles in the sixth, and center fielder Cole Carrigg – the No. 8 overall prospect in the Colorado Rockies’ organization – belted a solo homer on the first pitch of the seventh.

“The guys were getting hits, and that’s all they need to do – get two or three runs and I’ll have their backs,” Dollander said.

Dollander (2-1), the top pitching prospect in Colorado’s farm system, worked a season-high seven innings during his eighth pro appearance – what he called “probably my best outing of the year.”

He struck out eight and allowed one unearned run on five hits and one walk. Dollander threw 103 pitches, 67 for strikes.

“I’ve learned to just trust myself and trust my stuff,” Dollander said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to do what I did (tonight).”

The right-hander mixed his high-velocity fastball and slider to great effect early, inducing four swinging strikeouts in the first two innings. The Hops didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the sixth, when a fielding error on a two-out single allowed Hillsboro’s Jack Hurley to score.

Spokane, which leads the NWL in batting average (.273), scratched out 12 hits against Hillsboro, which entered the game with the league’s top team ERA (3.03).

“It can be a little intimidating, looking at those pitching numbers, but we’re confident in what we’ve got going in our lineup,” Karros said. “That made it all the more sweet, getting some runs and hitting some guys who have been shoving all year.”

Karros went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Carrigg and Martin contributed two hits apiece and five other Indians batters had a hit each.

The Hops managed seven hits. Spokane reliever Zach Agnos pitched a spotless eighth inning and Felix Ramires escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth without allowing a run.

Spokane and Hillsboro, which have split the first four games of this series, meet again at 6:35 p.m. Saturday. The Indians hold a two-game lead for first place in the Northwest League standings.