The Spokane Indians have been the most dangerous team in the Northwest League so far, winning 20 of their first 28 games to take control of the North Division.
But the Tri-City Dust Devils were an even bigger danger to themselves in a 6-4 loss Friday night before 2,584 fans at Gesa Stadium.
The Indians erased a 2-1 deficit in the top of the sixth inning, sending nine batters to the plate while scoring five runs off three Tri-City pitchers. During one stretch, Dust Devils pitchers Blake Shouse and Evan DeLuca combined to throw 12 consecutive balls — three of them wild pitches by DeLuca — as Indians baserunners were given some easy passes home.
“Sometimes that happens. Sometimes our job as an offense is battle back after that and pick ourselves up,” Dust Devils hitting coach Warren Schaeffer said. “It’s a team game.”
Schaeffer filled in as skipper for the second consecutive night while manager Drew Saylor attended a wedding near his home in Akron, Ohio.
Marcos Derkes, who went 2-for-3, scored Tri-City’s first two runs, coming home on an RBI grounder by Roberto Ramos in the first and a single by Sean Dwyer in the third.
Tri-City starting pitcher Blake Shouse pitched effectively through the first five innings, throwing 38 of his 60 pitches for strikes while keeping the NWL’s most potent offense at bay.
But the sixth inning got away from him. After retiring the first batter of the frame, he allowed a single to Eduard Pinto, a double to Seth Spivey and then walked Jose Trevino on four pitches.
“I thought Shouse was great tonight. He attacked hitters low in the zone,” Schaeffer said. “He had a good breaking ball tonight and used his changeup. It was good to see him compete out there.”
DeLuca faced two batters and did not throw a strike. His first walk forced in a run, but his three wild pitches let in two more runs as Spokane took a 4-2 lead.
Jerad McCrummen did well to stop the bleeding, striking out two batters to end the inning. But he did allow a two-run double to Zach Cone that put the Indians up 6-2.
Tri-City cut the lead to 6-4 in the ninth, as Shane Hoelscher drove a two-run double to left center, but Nick Dignacco struck out Jordan Parris to end the game.
Note: The Dust Devils were asked by the Pasco Fire Department to postpone today’s post-game fireworks display because of extreme heat and dry conditions. The fireworks show has been rescheduled for Thursday, July 31, following that night’s game between Tri-City and Salem-Keizer at Gesa Stadium.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com