For 37 games and eight innings of their 38th game, the Spokane Indians were all but invincible on their home field.
Oh, but that last inning at Avista Stadium sure put a damper on festivities as Spokane completed its regular-season home schedule Monday night.
The Boise Hawks, ending a 12-game road trip, woke up in the ninth inning, mashing Spokane relievers Tim Steggall and Zach Osborne (1-3) for eight hits and seven runs to steal an 8-5 Northwest League baseball win in the final game of a three-game set.
“Steggall’s a late-inning guy and Osborne’s just making his comeback with his third outing after his injury, and he just had a flat fastball and (Boise) got after it,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said as 6,213 fans watched postgame fireworks.
Spokane finished 27-11 at home. The Indians won the series 2-1 and lead the season series with the Hawks 5-4.
Spokane completes its regular season with six road games, today through Thursday at Boise and Friday through Sunday at Tri-City.
The Indians’ consolation is that they can shrug off the setback and prepare for the playoffs. Spokane, the East Division first-half champion, will play Game 1 of the divisional series Monday night at Yakima.
The second game of the best-of-3 series is next Tuesday in Spokane. The deciding game, if necessary, will also be at Avista.
Spokane entered the ninth with a 5-1 lead and Steggall fresh off working a 1-2-3 eighth.
But Steggall allowed four singles before Hulett called upon Osborne to get the final two outs with the score 5-2.
Arismendy Alcantara, the first batter Osborne faced, tied the game with a bases-clearing triple. Elliot Soto followed with a go-ahead double and league batting leader Pierre LePage (.333) tripled for a 7-5 lead.
Boise starter Dustin Fitzgerald held Spokane to one single through four innings. He took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, when Indians catcher Brett Nicholas belted a 375-foot solo homer to the right of the scoreboard to stir the offense.
The Indians bounced around Hawks reliever Eric Jokisch in the sixth after two outs. Josh Richmond’s RBI triple over the head of center fielder Kyung-Min Na scored Andrew Clark for a 2-1 lead, and Nicholas’ infield single brought home Richmond.
The lead grew to 5-1 on Jake Skole’s RBI infield hit in the seventh and Kellin Deglan’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“We played a pretty good game (until then),” Hulett said. “(Fitzgerald) pitched pretty well for a while, and then we got to them. We scored five runs, but we couldn’t put it away tonight.”
SWX televised the game – the first Indians game on TV since 1994.
Spokane signed a two-year extension to remain affiliated with the Texas Rangers. The Indians have been affiliated with Texas for eight seasons and have won three NWL championships with Rangers players. … Spokane’s home attendance (175,287) topped 170,000 for the sixth consecutive season. … In the West Division, Eugene was officially eliminated after losing to Everett 8-0. Vancouver will host first-half champ Everett in Game 1 of the divisional playoffs Monday.
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