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Spokane Indians

Braiden Ward goes deep twice, but Spokane Indians lose to Vancouver 7-3

Sean Sullivan, the Colorado Rockies’ second-round pick in last year’s MLB draft, entered play on Friday having allowed six earned runs in five games this season, pitching to a 1.95 ERA over 27⅔ innings.

The 21-year-old lefty ran into his first bit of adversity in the 2024 season.

Sullivan allowed six earned runs – matching his season total – over six innings and the Spokane Indians lost to the Vancouver Canadians 7-3 in a Northwest League game at Avista Stadium.

Indians second baseman Braiden Ward, who recently had six stolen bases in a game, hit two home runs – doubling his season total from last season.

“The short porch helped me out there tonight,” he said.

Sullivan threw 80 pitches, 56 for strikes. He allowed six hits – including a pair of long home runs – and a walk with seven strikeouts.

“(Vancouver) prepared, they knew his fastball (was coming). They had to get to it,” Indians pitching coach Blaine Beatty said. “And that’s what they got to. He was just a little bit slow to turn over to get to the secondary stuff.

Almost two months into the season and younger players are learning how to adjust when preparing to face a team the second and third time.

“These guys know what you’re coming in with,” Beatty said. “So, you’ve got to start executing your secondary stuff here. They’re making you pitch a little bit even though your strengths are your strengths. You have to lean on some of your secondary stuff to keep them off of that. And that’s what these guys are finding out at this point.”

Sullivan cruised until the third. With one down, No. 9 hitter Jaden Rudd flared a single into right field. Sullivan struck out leadoff hitter Dasan Brown, but Jace Bohrofen hit a high fastball into the parking lot beyond the right-field plaza for his second home run of the season.

The lefty retired the next five batters with a couple of strikeouts. But with one down in the fifth, Jommer Hernandez doubled, and one out later Brown and Bohrofen hit consecutive doubles to make it 4-0.

Jackson Hornung followed and crushed a fastball left over the plate over the netting above the left field wall, his third homer of the season.

“It’s still a learning part process,” Beatty said. “I have no concerns because this kid is going to make those adjustments and I’d rather something like that happen now, so that he sees it and can take that going forward.”

Sullivan, who was only at 67 pitches through five, was brought back out for the sixth. He rebounded from the tough inning and retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts.

“All of it’s good,” Beatty said. “And the reason I say that isn’t because of the runs, is because of the learning part of what he what he took tonight. … And what he did in the sixth inning was what he should have or could have done earlier in the game.”

Ward got the home team on the board in the sixth inning, and it wasn’t in the speedster’s normal manner as he smacked a home run to right, his first of the season. The unexpected power surge continued for Ward in the eighth, as he clubbed his second of the game, a two-run shot, to pull the Indians within four.

“The guy was a ball thrower, so I know the whole at-bat I kind of had to (look for a strike). We were down a bunch so definitely don’t want to swing any balls. …I wasn’t trying to do anything. I’m trying to hit it hard somewhere.”

Asked the last time he had a two-homer game, Ward replied, “Never. Are you kidding me?” he said. “You’re asking the non-home run hitter when he had two (in a game). I’ve never had one.”

Canadians starter Chris McElvain shut out the Indians offense over five innings. The 23-year-old righty allowed just two hits and two walks with five strikeouts.