Andrew Clark’s first home run as a Spokane Indian has been a long time coming.
The former Big East tournament MVP who belted 14 home runs in two seasons with Louisville had gone his first 47 at-bats without a homer this season before erasing the futility with a solo blast in the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday in front of a capacity crowd of 6,835 at Avista Stadium.
Clark added his own fireworks to the Fourth of July festivities, snapping a 2-2 tie in the seventh to help boost the Indians to a 6-2 victory over the Boise Hawks.
“I had a lot of tension building up trying to get that, it was overdue,” Clark said. “I’ve been talking about hitting that first home run for a while so it felt pretty good.
“It couldn’t have come in a better situation,” he added. “To get that home run to put us ahead, it felt awesome to be able to help my team out.”
The Indians (8-8) did not rest after regaining the lead, though, having already lost a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning when Boise (9-8) got to Spokane starter Randol Rojas for two runs.
Instead, Spokane kept tacking on runs, adding another in the seventh on an RBI single by first baseman Clark Murphy and two in the eighth to help make a winner of relief pitcher Ben Henry (2-0).
“It helped take away the pressure and let us play a little more relaxed,” Clark said. “Our pitchers could go out and be more aggressive. It definitely eased the tension getting those extra runs and we could definitely play more loose.”
Henry entered the game with an ERA of 2.70 in four appearances and lowered that with three scoreless innings in relief of Rojas, who went the first six, allowing two runs on four hits.
Henry shut the Hawks down in his three innings, allowing no runs and no hits, while striking out three and walking one.
The pitchers combined for seven strikeouts and 16 groundouts, taking some of the focus off first-round draft pick Jake Skole, who made his first start for the Indians at Avista in center field.
After going hitless in his Spokane debut Saturday in Pasco, Skole reached base for the first time against Boise, legging out an infield hit to shortstop in the bottom of the eighth inning. Skole then scored on a base hit by Jurickson Profar to give the Indians a 5-2 lead.
“It felt good to get out there and get my first hit,” said Skole, who was the 15th overall pick by the Texas Rangers in June’s amateur draft. “Hopefully they come in bunches for me.”
Playing eight games in the Arizona Rookie League, Skole batted .286 with two doubles and five RBIs in 28 at-bats. He now joins a red-hot Indians club that has won two straight and seven of its last eight to move to .500 on the young season.
“If feels good to join a club that’s playing well and hopefully I can jump on with them and play as good as they’re playing right now,” he said.
The Indians, who a week ago were 2-7 and 3 ½ games out of first place, are now 8-8 and a half-game back of Boise for the Northwest League East lead. … Yefry Castillo hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second that gave the Indians a 2-0 lead.
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