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Indians win opener in thrilling fashion

Dylan Moore’s professional baseball debut developed into the perfect setup for what he called a surreal moment.

Moore’s two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday made the Spokane Indians a winner in their Northwest League opener at Avista Stadium.

Moore’s liner to left field, on a 1-1 slider from fourth Hillsboro pitcher Kevin Simmons, gave the Indians a 6-5 victory over the defending NWL champions to start a five-game series and eight-game homestand.

“Great job by Dylan right there,” said Tim Hulett, who started his ninth season as Indians manager. “He’d taken a lot of fastballs tonight. He took the first  fastball (from Simmons) and then they threw him a breaking ball and he was all over it.”

“They were coming right after me,” said Moore, who was just drafted by the Texas Rangers in the seventh round out of Central Florida. “They probably don’t know much about me and I don’t know much about them, being my first year and everything. That one was actually a slider that he left up in the zone and I got a pretty good swing on it.”

Ti’Quan Forbes set up the winning play by drawing a one-out walk on five pitches. Sherman Lacrus singled Forbes to second base with his third hit of the evening, and Simmons coaxed a pop foul from Diego Cedeno before Moore came to bat with 6,458 in attendance urging him on.

“I noticed a couple of guys got on and I realized where I was in the lineup,” Moore said. “I got up there and said to myself, ‘Just hit a ball hard.’”

That he did. Left fielder Zach Nehrir’s throw home was close, but Forbes got his left hand on the plate just before catcher Nate Irving’s sweep tag.

“I hit it to the side of the outfielder, which is usually pretty much a guaranteed run,” Moore said. “However, (Nehrir) did make it close at home. So I was holding my breath for a little bit. But when (Forbes scored) it was an unbelievable experience for me.”

The back-and-forth game started sloppily as the teams combined for five errors through three innings.

Indians starter Luke Lanphere worked five innings and exited with the game tied at 4. None of those runs was earned, however, and Lanphere struck out five while walking one.

“It looked like he was a little shaky in the second and third innings, but it really wasn’t him,” Hulett said. “It was us. He did a good job of keeping his composure and putting up a couple of zeros after that.”

Forbes, on second base with one out in the fifth, attempted to score the go-ahead run on Cedeno’s infield single. Hulett, the third-base coach, took the blame for the decision.

Spokane’s Doug Votolato broke the tie by scoring on Myles Smith’s wild pitch in the sixth. The Hops got the run back in the seventh on Nehrir’s two-out single to center.

Notes

Right-hander Emerson Martinez is scheduled to start tonight for the Indians. Martinez went 0-1 with an ERA of 4.18 last season in the Arizona Rookie League. … First-round draft pick Dillon Tate, the fourth overall selection in last week’s MLB draft, isn’t slotted in for an Indians start yet. … Before the game, the Indians awarded former NWL president Bob Richmond and 43-year concessions worker “Captain” Jack Billingsley with yearlong spots in the team’s Rim of Honor.

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