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Spokane rules Northwest League09/12/2005 9:31 PM ET
By Zack Hample / MLB.com
Kellan McConnell hurled six solid innings as visiting Spokane defeated Vancouver, 8-3, rallying from a 2-1 series deficit to win the Northwest League Championship on Monday night.
McConnell (1-0), who led the Indians with six wins during the regular season, allowed two runs on six hits while striking out three. Juan Jimenez surrendered one run in one-third of an inning before Nathan Fogle and Jon Wilson combined to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless frames to seal the victory.
The championship is Spokane's second in three years and seventh in franchise history.
Thanks to a brilliant catch by left fielder K.C. Herren in the sixth inning, McConnell was able to leave the game with a 2-2 tie. With one out and runners on first and second, Haas Pratt belted a drive to left center field, but Herren tracked it down and made an over-the-shoulder catch.
"When the guy first hit it," said McConnell, "I thought it was off the wall. I was getting in position to back up third or home. It was an unbelievable catch in a perfect spot for us."
"It changed the whole complexion of the game," added Indians manager Greg Riddoch. "Those two runners would've scored."
Even though the game was tied after the sixth, the 23-year-old McConnell picked up the biggest win of his professional career thanks to his team's late-inning offense.
In the top of the seventh, Joseph Kemp ripped a run-scoring single to give the Indians a 3-2 lead. Jonathan Higashi, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, hit a sacrifice fly to provide a two-run cushion.
Isaac Omura trimmed the Canadians' deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame, but Spokane answered with four runs in the eighth.
German Duran led off with a walk and Taylor Teagarden hit a single to right fielder Ty Bubalo. Bubalo did not handle the ball cleanly, allowing Duran to score and Teagarden to advance to second base. Freddie Thon followed with an RBI single to push the Indians' lead to 6-3 before two walks loaded the bases. Higashi then ripped a two-run single to cap the scoring and put the game out of reach.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," said Higashi, who'd only gotten two at-bats in the first four games. "With a new reliever coming in, I knew he was going to throw strikes. He happened to leave one up in the zone and I was able to get a good piece of it."
Duran finished with a hit, three walks, two runs and an RBI. Teagarden, the Texas Rangers third-round pick (99th overall) in the 2005 draft, went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run.
Canadians starter Joe Piekarz allowed two runs on six hits in five innings but settled for a no-decision. Reliever Jason Ray (0-1) suffered the loss, giving up two runs -- one earned -- on two hits in two innings.
Jose Garcia went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the losing cause, while Jeffrey Baisley was 2-for-4 with a double and a run.
What's next for the Indians?
"A nine-hour bus trip back to Spokane," Riddoch said.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.