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Byrd helps Indians topple Dust Devils

The Spokane Indians’ bats came alive Monday night as they pounded Northwest League rival Tri-City 9-5.

With the win, the Indians (5-7) pulled within a game of the Dust Devils (6-6), which won the division in the first half of the season.

The Indians did not commit an error and got timely hitting on a night when the batters forced the Dust Devils pitchers to throw more than 200 pitches by the end of the eighth inning.

“Absolutely, this was a good win,” manager Tim Hulett said. “We needed that one.”

Tyler Sanchez started things off in the second inning with a double to left field that scored Jamie Potts, who earlier walked and would later walk three more times.

Leon Byrd started a productive night with a double that scored Sanchez. Darius Day singled with two outs to score Byrd and LeDarius Clark doubled in Day to give Spokane a 4-0 lead.

“I like those extra base hits,” Hulett said. “Byrd had a great night. Up and down the lineup, the guys swung the bat pretty well.”

The scoring barrage chased the Dust Devil’s starting pitcher Brett Kennedy, but his replacement didn’t fare much better.

In the bottom of the third, Potts and Sanchez walked off the Dust Devils’ Luis Hernandez. That set up Byrd, who blasted a triple to score them both to give Spokane a 6-0 lead.

Byrd (.206) finished the night with a double, a triple, a walk, three RBIs and he scored a run. The second baseman from Cypress, Texas, said he was just trying to be aggressive with the bat.

“I’ve been working with coaches and I changed my swing a little bit,” he said. “Things are starting to click.”

On the night, the Indians were 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

“Anybody can get a hit when the bases are empty,” Byrd said. “The biggest thing is banging those extra- base hits when you have the opportunity to score.”

Spokane starter Cody Palmquist, a hard throwing right hander, kept the Dust Devils off balance until the top of the fifth when Justin Pacchioli got an infield single. Palmquist, who went to 2-2 with the win, then walked Rod Boykin before Peter Van Gansen hit a single to score Pacchioli.

Austin Allen later singled to score Boykin to make it 6-2 Spokane.

The Indians answered in the top of the sixth when Yeson Yrizarri smashed the first ball he saw over the left field fence to make it 7-2.

“That came at a good time,” Hulett said. “The game had slowed down and they had scored a couple runs.”

The Indians added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Dust Devils finally answered in the top of the eighth with two runs of their own.

They also scratched one more run in the top of the ninth inning to make it 9-5 and extend a game that took three-and-a-half hours to play.

“I did not want to see the tying run come to the plate,” Hulett said. “You never know.”

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