The Spokane Indians put the West in their rearview mirror Tuesday, although they wouldn’t mind a short return visit before the summer fades.
The Eugene Emeralds held off Spokane 3-2 at Avista Stadium to complete a five-game series and cap the Indians’ 40-game regular-season schedule against Northwest League West Division teams.
Spokane won the series 3-2 and split 10 games with the Emeralds, who were the only West team to play .500 ball against the Indians. Spokane finished 23-17 against the West, and is done with the division unless it qualifies for the NWL championship series.
“We’ve played well against the West,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “I think (West second-half leader) Vancouver gave us the most fits, beating us early before we really got it going, and, of course, (West first-half champ) Everett is a great team.”
Now the Indians, East first-half champs, turn their attention to the season’s final 12 regular-season games, all against divisional rivals. The first task, today through Friday at Yakima, is a Bears team that leads the East second-half standings at 17-9, three games ahead of Spokane.
“I think you want to go (to Yakima) and you want to play well against them, and send a message that you better come ready to play,” Hulett said.
Yakima’s goal isn’t to hold off Spokane as much as to eliminate Boise and Tri-City from playoff contention. The Bears have a six-game gap on T-C for the right to host Spokane in Game 1 of the divisional series, on Sept. 6.
The Indians trailed Tuesday’s game 3-0 after six innings as Emeralds starter Dexter Carter (1-0) found a groove after facing some early trouble. Carter struck out Michael Olt with the bases loaded to end the third inning, then proceeded to strike out seven of the next nine Indians.
The Emeralds stuck with Carter for the seventh inning, when Spokane collected four hits and scored both of its runs. Clark Murphy led off with a single to center field and scored on Brett Nicholas’ slicing double to left.
Xavier Esquivel relieved Carter and allowed Alejandro Selen’s one-out RBI double, his eighth hit in his last 14 at-bats. Selen advanced to third on Kevin Torres’ single, but Eugene gunned out Selen at home on Ryan Strausborger’s grounder to third base.
Deiber Sanchez handcuffed Spokane in the eighth and ninth for his first save.
Wes Cunningham’s second homer of the series, a liner to right off Nicholas McBride (2-5) in the fifth, gave Eugene a 2-0 lead. Chris Tremblay led off the sixth with his third hit and scored the Ems’ third run. Tremblay, just back from a concussion, was 6 for 8 in two games against Spokane.
Strausborger improved his hitting streak to nine games with a third-inning single. He has 19 hits in his last 38 at-bats.
Indians third baseman Olt’s hitting streak ended at nine. Olt’s 49 runs rank second in the league. … Indians right-hander Zach Osborne, out since mid-July with facial injuries, should return during the Yakima series, Hulett said. … The Indians return to Avista Stadium on Saturday against Boise. The game starts at 6:30 p.m.
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