At 17-years-old, Cristian Inoa might be the youngest player on his team, but that doesn’t shake his confidence.
Especially when there’s a win on the line.
With Miguel Aparicio on third in the ninth and the score tied at 6, Inoa stepped up to the plate at Avista Stadium.
“I knew that I had to make contact in order for that person to come home for us to win,” Inoa said through a translator.
The infielder, from the Dominican Republic, worked the count to 1-2 before sending a blooper that fell behind second base and sent home Aparicio, ending the night with a 7-6 win over the Boise Hawks.
The Indians nearly ended the night with a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth behind closing pitcher Grant Zawadzki.
Zawadzki allowed a leadoff single, but retired the next two batters on a strikeout and a fly to right.
With one out to go, Zawadzki tossed the first pitch to Boise’s Jonathan Piron with the intention of a low strike to jump ahead on the count. Instead, the pitched stayed up, giving Piron a perfect look to launch one out of the park. The two-run homer put Boise back on top with a 6-5 lead.
Zawadzki walked the next batter and gave up another single before finally ending the inning on a fly to left field.
“I made a mistake. I left it up and (Piron) got a hold of it,” Zawadzki said. I’m “just lucky that I had the guys on the other end to help me up.”
The Indians had a strong start to Monday’s series finale. The Indians jumping out 1-0 in the first inning behind a pair of doubles by Aparicio and Yohel Pozo. Indians starter Tyree Thompson retired the side through the second inning to hold Spokane’s one-run lead.
But the Indians quickly lost control. Boise’s Ryan Metzler hit a shot off the right-field wall in the top of the third that deflected off right fielder Chad Smith’s glove. Metzler eventually tied the score at 1 after Thompson sent a wild pitch to the backstop.
Thompson walked the next batter then gave up a short blooper that dropped along the left field line. Boise’s Steve Linkous loaded the bases with nobody out on a successful bunt down the left side. Boise’s JB Moss cleared the bases on a line-drive double deep into left field, giving the Hawks a 4-1 lead.
The Indians didn’t catch a break until the seventh inning when they scored three runs off right-hander Mike Bunal to tie the score at 4. Kole Enright singled to center field and Chad Smith followed with a double to right. Melvin Novoa took the first pitch in the side and was awarded a trip to first, loading the bases.
Enright stole home on a passed ball, narrowing Boise’s lead to 4-2. Bunal sent another ball to the backstop on the following batter that scored another run for the Indians.
Novoa crossed the plate for Spokane’s fourth run of the night on Inoa’s sacrifice fly to right field.
The Indians took back the lead in the eighth on Pozo’s home run to left field.
Aparicio went 3 for 4 and was a homer short of a cycle on Monday. He failed to reach first base safely only in the fifth when he worked Luna to a 3-2 count before grounding out to second.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.