Clayton Middleton Gives Spokane Indians Walk-Off Win, 10-9
The Spokane Indians beat the Hillsboro Hops with a walk-off single from Clayton Middleton in the bottom of the ninth for the win, 10-9. The game was a story of the Hops going ahead and the Indians tying the game without claiming a lead for themselves. That is until the final inning when it counted the most. The only time the Indians led was when the game was over.
Ahead 9-7, the Hops started the final inning with their ace closer Erbert Gonzalez (L, 0-1). The RHP out of Miranda, Venezuela, was 5 for 5 in game saved up until that point. Tonight’s game was a change in the script. With one out, Jonah McReynolds singled to right and moved to second on a follow-up single through the right-side gap by Miguel Aparicio. Chad Smith swatted a third consecutive single, a line drive to center, and scored McReynolds leaving runners at the corners.
Sitting one run behind the Hops, both baserunners pulled off a double steal aided by a throwing error by catcher Daulton Varsho to tie the game. The winning run stood at second with one out. After Chad Smith moved to third on a ground-out, Clayton Middleton singled with two outs to bring home the winning run.
The Saturday night game was a story of offense at the plate more than pitching on the mound. Both teams combined for 29 hits including five doubles and four home runs. That belied the performances of five pitchers. Three Hops hurlers (Brian Shaffer, Anfernee Benitez and Rafael Pujols) combined for three innings of hitless ball in the middle of the game. It was during their stance that the score grew from a 7-7 tie into a 9-7 lead.
Two Indians pitchers did them one better by ending the game stronger. Ronny Carvahal pitched almost three innings of two-hit ball. That was followed by Tai Tiedemann (W, 2-1) spreading two runs over the last five innings while striking out six for the win.
It was the bats though that decided the game. Bryan Araiza led the Hops with a filled line of going 2 for 5 and scored two runs. His two hits were a two-run homer in the second and a lead-off double in the ninth. Every Hops batter hit safely in the game and six of the nine had multi-hit games, including Drew Ellis who went 3 for 4 with a double.
All Indians batters also hit safely in the game with 13 hits including one double and three home runs. Several stood out for Spokane. Miguel Aparicio went 3 for 5 with a double and scored three times. Chad Smith went 2 for 5, scored twice and batted in two other runs. Tyler Ratliff led off Indians scoring with a two-run blast in the first inning. Andretty Cordero had a two-run blast of his own in the fifth. Melvin Novoa had a solo shot in the second.
The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (13-11) into a first-place tie with the Eugene Emeralds in the Southern Division. The win helped the Spokane Indians (9-15) gain a game on the Northern Division leading Vancouver Canadians. It also earned a third-place tie with the Everett Aquasox, seven games behing the division leader.
Spokane now leads the five-game series 2-1. Both teams return to Avista Stadium for game four on Sunday with a game time of 3:30 pm. Expected pitchers are RHP Tyler Keele (1-1) for the Hops and LHP Reiver Sanmartin (2-0) for the Indians.
Hops notes: The two amazing grabs by center fielder Tra’Mayne Holmes in Friday’s game earned him a top spot in the ESPN highlights that night.
Two Hops players were promoted to the Kane County Cougars on Saturday. LHP pitcher Junior Garcia had a 2-0 record in six relief appearances for the Hops. Garcia allowed one run over 15.2 innings for a 0.57 ERA. He has shown remarkable control striking out 18 batters and only walking three.
Catcher Cole Thompson batted .321 in seven games for Hillsboro. Cole made his pro debut in this season’s opener for Hillsboro on June 15th. He was leading the team in On Base Percentage (OBP) with .424.
By Greg Stoker