Timely hits haven’t come readily for the Spokane Indians this series, so it was perhaps fitting that Saturday night’s game didn’t end with one.
It ended with a walk.
“Ah, yeah. That’s probably the best walk in my life,” Indians third baseman Jonah McReynolds said.
The Indians tied the Vancouver Canadians in the eighth inning and loaded the bases in the 10th. With one out, McReynolds earned the walk-off 2-1 victory in Spokane’s first extra-inning game at Avista Stadium this season.
“It’s huge, just because last night and tonight we had so many opportunities to score runs and we really haven’t,” Indians manager Kenny Hook said. “That’s a great disciplined at-bat in that situation.”
McReynolds was hitless in his previous four at-bats, leaving six runners on base. He worked a full count against Parker Caracci (2-2) and took the last pitch up and in before trotting to first base.
The Indians (3-2 second half) finished 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, while the Canadians (2-3) were 1 for 7.
Spokane was flummoxed by Vancouver’s pitchers, notably Alek Manoah, the 11th overall pick in the 2019 draft who was making his professional debut. The 6-foot-6 Manoah struck out two of the four hitters he faced.
He gave way to regular starter William Gaston, who followed with his best outing of the season: six shutout innings, allowing just six baserunners and striking out six.
Yet the Indians’ staff matched Vancouver’s.
Ricky Vanasco, Jeifry Nunez and Nick Starr each pitched three innings, the only blemish being Vanasco’s unearned run in the second that gave the Canadians a 1-0 lead they held for six innings.
The Indians got their first good scoring chance when Kenen Irizarry and Blaine Crim singled back to back to start the sixth. But Gaston wiggled out of trouble with a strikeout, grounder and a pop up to keep the Indians scoreless.
Grayson Huffman relieved Gaston to start the eighth and struck out the first two batters, but he walked Crim on four pitches. After throwing two more balls to Luis Asuncion, the Indians’ designated hitter slammed the next pitch off the wall under the right-field scoreboard. Crim came around to score and tie the game at 1.
Starr stayed in the game for the ninth. After Jesus Lopez reached on an error, Starr struck out the next three batters. Starr, who threw three scoreless innings and struck out seven, has allowed just one run – unearned – while recording 13 strikeouts in his last nine innings.
Daniel Robert (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th to earn the victory.
The Indians also benefited from catcher David Garcia’s strong arm. He threw out three runners at second base – one after Starr bounced an eighth-inning pitch about 40 feet from the plate.
“It takes so much pressure off you on the mound knowing you’ve got an absolute dude behind the plate that can throw a guy out at any time,” Starr said. “It makes it so you don’t have to rush as much and you get more comfortable on the mound.”
The victory gave Spokane a 6-5 edge in the season series with Vancouver. The teams wrap up their three-game series on Sunday afternoon.
Indians roster shuffled
Indians pitcher John Matthews and infielder Stanley Martinez were reassigned to the Arizona League before the game, while outfielder Tanner Gardner and first baseman Maxwell Morales were released outright.
In concurrent moves, Spokane received three players from the Arizona League: infielder Derwin Barreto, outfielder Alexander Ovalles and pitcher Josh Smith. Ovalles started in left field and batted seventh; Barretto started at shortstop and batted ninth. Both went 0 for 3 with a walk.
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