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Spokane Indians

Braiden Ward continues heater, Spokane Indians sweep Vancouver 7-6, 17-1

Some years a team will just have another team’s “number.” There’s not really much of a difference between the records of the first-place Spokane Indians and the third-place Vancouver Canadians, but for whatever reason the Indians have had the better of play when the teams have met this season.

Braiden Ward continued his hot streak with a walk-off single in the first game and three RBIs in the second as the Spokane Indians swept the Vancouver Canadians in a Northwest League doubleheader at Avista Stadium on Saturday. 

Spokane won the early game 7-6 and the second one 17-1 after an 11-run seventh inning off a little-used reliever and two position players.

The Indians (20-14) played as the visitors in the second game in a make-up from a rainout in Vancouver (16-18) earlier this season. Spokane has won 4 of 6 games in the series and 9 of 11 against Vancouver this season. 

Ward went 5 for 9 with five RBIs on the day.

“He does so many things on the field,” Indians manager Robinson Cancel said about Ward. “He can run, he can play second, he can play the outfield, steal bases. Now he’s hitting for a little bit of power, and I think he’s leading the league in (on-base plus slugging). I mean, he’s having a good year so far. He always worked hard for it.”

Indians starter Blake Adams was superb in the second game before things got out of hand late. He went six innings and allowed one run on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches, 64 for strikes.

“The game plan was just ‘attack the zone’ today,” Blake said. “You know, fill it up with off speed stuff and attack with fastball later. I think me and my catcher (Jesus) Ordonez did a great job following that.”

“(Adams) kept us in the game, and we were able to put some runs on the board,” Cancel said.

The Indians opened the scoring in the second game in the second inning. Juan Guerrero hit a one-out double and scored on a single by Ward. Ordonez singled moving Ward to third, and the speedster later scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

Vancouver answered in the bottom half when Dylan Rock singled home Jackson Hornung from third. It could have been worse, but Ordonez picked a runner off third earlier in the inning. 

The Canadians threatened again in the third, but the defense came through again. With a runner at second, Ryan McCarty beat out an infield single and Dasan Brown tried for home on the play. But Indians first baseman Trevor Boone alertly threw home, and Ordonez applied the tag in plenty of time to nab Brown.

The Indians opened things up in the fifth. Jean Perez led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Dyan Jorge. Kyle Karros singled then Robby Martin Jr doubled off the wall in left center. Jorge scored easily but Karros was thrown out at home.

Juan Guerrero followed with a double over the head of center fielder Dasan Brown and Martin scored easily to make it 5-1. Ward then flipped a single the opposite way into left field and Guerrero trotted home without a throw.

Ward spent much if the early part of the season in the No. 9 hole. Cancel has been batting him in the fifth or sixth spot recently.

“It’s same approach. Nothing’s changed. The only differences now is I have (Bryant) Betancourt letting me steal instead of Cole (Carrigg) swinging every time,” Ward joked.

Guerrero got into the act on defense as well. With two on and two down in the fifth Jace Bohrofen drove one to the track in left and Guerrero made a leaping catch before crashing into the wall for the final out. 

Vancouver turned to Naswell Paulino, who had pitched a total of 8 1/3 innings this season, for the seventh. All seven batters he faced got hits, including back-to-back homers from Ordonez and Trevor Boone, which ended his appearance. The Indians scored four more runs off catcher Jose Ferrer and infielder Jean Arnaez.

Ordonez finished 4 for 5 with four RBIs.

In the early game, Ward delivered a bases-loaded two-out single and all three runners scored on the play to walk off the Canadians 7-6

Ward worked the count full against reliever Andres Tolhurst and on the eighth pitch of the at-bat he flared a base hit down the right field line. The runners were going on the pitch and right fielder Jaden Rudd bobbled the pick-up, allowing pinch-runner Jean Perez to score from first base with the winning run.

“I don’t know why, but I was calm,” Ward said. “I mean, I trusted myself. I got a good matchup, saw some good pitches and executed. And by executed, I mean hit a broken bat (single) down the line.”

Betancourt went 3 for 3 with a solo home run, his third of the season, and two runs for the Indians.  

Chase Dollander started the early game for the Indians and worked four innings, matching his shortest stint of the season. He went scoreless through 3 2/3 innings before hitting the wall, allowing four hits and a walk in a span of five batters for four earned runs. All told, he allowed six hits and two walks with six strikeouts and threw 88 pitches, 53 for strikes.