Braiden Ward runs wild with 6 stolen bases, Spokane Indians edge Eugene 7-6

May 3—Braiden Ward isn't the most heralded prospect in the Colorado Rockies system, but he is fast. Like, game-changing fast.

Ward was third in the Northwest League with 44 stolen bases last year — despite having half the plate appearances of first and second place — and he had 57 swipes between Fresno and Spokane in 2022.

He proved again Friday night at Avista Stadium how dangerous speed can be.

Ward went 3 for 3, reaching base in all five plate appearances, with three runs and six stolen bases — including a straight steal of home — and the Spokane Indians beat the Eugene Emeralds 7-6, tying the visitors for first place in the league.

The Indians improved to 15-6.

The stolen bases were the most in the Northwest League since Zeke DeVoss did it for Boise in 2011. The last time in happened in High-A was Jay Allen II for Dayton in 2022.

"Cole (Carrigg) has been getting on me about how he's gonna lead me or beat me in bags," Ward said. "So, you know, I had to beat him tonight."

Ward leads the league in stolen bases now with 15. Carrigg is tied for third with 12 and shortstop Dyan Jorge is fifth with nine.

The MLB record for steals in one game is six, set by Eddie Collins in 1912 and matched three times.

"Wow," Ward said when made aware he tied the big league record. "Makes me wish I would have stolen third in eighth."

Ward has speed and instincts teams just can't game plan around.

"We kind of have a scouting report on which catchers have amazing arms and which ones don't," he said. "But at the end of the day, honestly, with me, if I can get a good jump off the pitcher, I don't care what the catcher does. I'm running until I get thrown out."

The Emeralds (17-7) got on the board in a hurry in the first off Indians starter Blake Adams. Turner Hill led off with a single, stole second and with one down, scored on a single by Matt Higgins.

Ward evened the score in the bottom half with his legs. He was hit by a pitch — for league-leading ninth time — then stole second, third and home to make it 1-1.

"On pitch one (manager) Robbie (Cancel) and I saw that it was there," Ward said. "We got to two strikes, and I had it. And I was just praying that A, it was ball and B, if it was a strike that Robby (Martin Jr) doesn't swing, and then I didn't die."

Ward made things happen again in the second. With two on and two down he pulled a line drive into the right field corner. Both runners scored on the double, and he advanced to third on the throw home.

Eugene scored three in the fourth inning, with runs coming in on a walk and error.

It was Ward igniting the offense again in the fifth. He hit a leadoff double, stole third and scored on Dyan Jorge's single through a drawn-in infield to tie it 4-4.

He was back at it in the sixth. With two down Parker Kelly tripled, then Ward walked. He promptly stole second, his fifth of the game, and both runners scored without a throw on a single by Jorge to make it 6-4.

Eugene's Garrett Frechette ripped a line drive two-run single in the seventh to tie it again.

The Indians took the lead again in the bottom half. Juan Guerrero singled, Bryant Betancourt walked, the pair pulled off a double steal and Jesus Ordonez followed with an RBI single.

Ward led off the eighth with a bunt single and — you guessed it — stole second. Kyle Karros walked but both runners were stranded.

Indians starter Blake Adams was in hot water several times during his appearance. He went five innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He threw 92 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Honor roll: Karros earned NWL hitter of the month, as named by Minor League Baseball. The 21-year-old batted .333/.443/.530 and led the league in average (.333), slugging percentage (.530) and OPS (.973).

He was second in doubles (eight) and on-base percentage (.443) and was third in hits (22), total bases (35) and RBI (14), recording seven multi-hit games in April. Karros was selected by Colorado in the fifth round of the 2023 MLB Draft out of UCLA.