August 2009

Tullis sharp, but Hawks win…see you in September

figueroa.jpgWhat a great game, a great crowd, and great atmosphere to end a nine-day, eight-game homestand!!!  A 1-0 victory by the Hawks, a super-sellout of nearly 3,900 fans, and a festive environment on a Wednesday night that will probably leave members of the Boise media scratching their heads as to “3,900 on a mid-week…what are they doing out there?”

It started on the mound tonight – as Robert Hernandez tossed six shutout innings for the second time in three starts, working out of a bases loaded jam in the first…and seemed to get better as the night progressed.  The best job, however, was by reliever Eduardo Figueroa (pictured left), who danced around a first-and-third, no outs situation in the seventh, coaxing a pop up and back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.  Dionis Nunez was Dionis Nunez, slamming the door in the ninth for his team-leading fifth save in five opportunities.

Offense was at a premium, with the lone run of the game coming in the sixth.  As Jose Valdez, seeing his first action in nearly a week, reaching on an infield single, moving to third on a Hak-Ju Lee single and subsequent fielding error, and scoring on a Logan Watkins fielders choice.  One run was enough tonight.

pic.jpgTULLIS WAS OUTSTANDING: The hype surrounding the return of Timberline star Braden Tullis lived up to the hype, as the Rangers 8th Round draft pick allowed just four hits in six innings of work, striking out five – but took the loss thanks to the unearned run.  He was in command the entire night, keeping the Hawks off-balanced with a good fastball and an even better change-up – especially to left-handed hitters.  The last time a local kid returned to Boise was Glenns Ferry native, and current Detroit Tiger farmhand (AAA Toledo) Zach Simons.

CRANK UP THE BUS, HAL: The Interwest bus will get worked overtime in the next two weeks, as we leave tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. sharp on a 12-day exodus through Eastern Washington.  First stop is Yakima, where temperatures are expected Thursday around 105 degrees…after three days in Wine Country, the Hawks head to Spokane for six days, over to Tri-City for three, returning home – in September.

THE BACON: Watkins extended his hitting streak to ten games with a first inning single…the Hawks turned four double plays in their seven-hit shutout, including three double plays started by Justin Bour…the major league record for first-baseman starting a double play in a game is three, however, no record for such a feat is in the NWL Recordbook – except for a first-baseman being involved in six double plays in one game.

COMING UP: Along with the sites and sounds of the road trip, we will be having a year in review on the road – ranking the top cities, food, mascots, etc….if there is something you would like us to rank from the road this year, feel free to leave a comment.

Two similar games, two different outcomes

whitlock.jpgThe Spokane Indians and the Boise Hawks will either become really good friends or bitter enemies over the next three weeks, as the clubs meet 12 times in an 18 day stretch.  If the first two games of the season series are any indication, it should be some interesting baseball.

Last night, the Hawks worked around 13 hits by the Tribe – stranding 11 runners, in a 5-1 win.  Boise took advantage of four Spokane errors to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth, then added three runs in the seven to put the game away.  Josh Whitlock (pictured left) was solid in relief, tossing four shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out a season-high five.

Tonight, the tables were turned, as the Indians got a pair of clutch hits in the fifth inning and got a solid performance by Matt Thompson in a 6-1 win.  The Hawks had only one runner past second base – that coming on D.J. Fitzgerald’s second home run of the season.

THE BACON: Logan Watkins, who was named Northwest League Player of the Week on Monday, had a pair of hits last night and added a bloop single tonight, extending his hitting streak to nine games and currently is second in the league in batting average…Hak-Ju Lee had two stolen bases on Monday, adding another last night – becoming the first NWL player to the 20 stolen base mark…Ryan Sontag retired the lone left-handed batter he faced in relief – with lefties now 0-for-25 against him this season.

mendonca.jpgIMPRESSIVE: I have been really impressed by Spokane third-baseman Tommy Mendonca (pictured right) out of Fresno State…the Rangers second-round pick this year was the 2008 College World Series MVP and the 2009 WAC Player of the Year…it isn’t his bat (he hit 27 HR in college this spring and has seven with the Indians this summer) that has been most impressive, it has been his defense – he has made two or three big-league plays and has a cannon for an arm.

DINGED UP: Outfielder Jose Valdez has been out of the line-up for nearly a week after injuring his hand sliding into second base during the Everett series…he did take infield-outfield practice yesterday…Josh Lansford was knocked out of yesterday’s game by a line-drive in the eighth inning, which struck his left foot…he is day-to-day.

LOCAL KID TOMORROW: Spokane will send former Timberline High pitcher, Braden Tullis to the mound tomorrow night in the rubber game of the series…a large THS contingent is expected at the park.

Winner in 12, hope Applebee’s is still open

matheus.jpgA game that saw its share of miscues and a great job by both team’s pitching staff, the Hawks got a 12th inning rally to defeat the Everett Aquasox, 4-3, in the longest game of the 2009 season.

After losing the first four games to the Frogs in Everett – and leading in three of the games heading into the late innings, the Hawks have rallied, winning 5-of-6 from their West Division rivals, and have now won seven of their last nine games – moving back within five games of the .500 mark.

George Matheus (pictured above) provided the heroics, lining the first pitch he saw from Brad Reid down the right field line, scoring Logan Watkins from second base.  It marked the fifth walk-off winner at home for the Hawks this season and the second in three nights.  Boise improved to 4-0 this season in extra inning games – all at home.

Thumbnail image for watkins.jpgWatkins (pictured right) had four hits in the victory – his third game with four or more hits this season, while relievers Yohan Gonzalez, Corey Martin, Dionis Nunez, and Andres Quezada combined to throw six shutout innings of relief.

TRUE AFTER PARTY: For the second time this season, the Applebee’s on Glenwood and State hosted a Boise Hawks get-together following a game, and for the second time this season, the preceding game went extra innings.  Tonight’s game was three hours and fifty minutes – forcing Applebee’s to stay open much longer than their scheduled midnight closing.

OFF DAY AT HOME: It isn’t often that the Hawks get an off-day, as only three are scheduled throughout the course of a season.  But it is even rarer that they get to spend an off-day at home in the midst of a homestand.  While the rest of the league plays tomorrow night, the Hawks and Spokane will enjoy a Sunday – whether it be fishing, floating the river, or sleeping, it will be a nice respite.  I will be enjoying a barbeque with my family at former Voice of the Hawks, Dave Hahn’s family’s home.

SpokaneIndiansLogo.pngWHO ARE THESE GUYS: It is the 15th of August and the Hawks have yet to play divisional rival, Spokane this season.  However, the two teams will get to know each other quickly, playing all 12 of their seasonal match-ups within an 18-day spread – including a six-game series at Avista Stadium during the middle portion of the Western Idaho Fair roadtrip.

THE BACON: The banged up outfield for the Hawks continues to shuffle, as D.J. Fitzgerald returned to the line-up, while Jae-Hoon Ha saw action as a DH…Fitzgerald was hampered by an ankle injury, while Ha had been sidelined with muscle soreness…Greg Rohan had the day off after leaving last night’s game after being hit in the elbow…Jose Valdez is still recovering from a hand injury sustained on Wednesday night…Richard Jones made his debut in left field, cleanly fielding one chance.

pie.jpgALUMNI REPORT: Former Hawks Chris Sigfried and David Cales were among four pitchers used by the Daytona Cubs in a no-hitter tonight agianst the Dunedin Blue Jays at Jackie Robinson Park…Sigfried tossed a perfect fifth inning, with Cales getting the final three outs in the D-Cubs first no-hitter since Kerry Wood in 1996…2002 Hawks alum Felix Pie (pictured right) became the seventh major leaguer this season to hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 in the Orioles 16-6 victory over the Angels on Friday night…Pie completed the cycle with a triple in the ninth inning and following the game, got not one, but two shaving cream pies in the face (ala Brett Jackson).

Tempers Flare in Hawks Win

080725-chiefs-dragons-brawl-hmed1110a_h2.jpgAn outstanding performance by Su-Min Jung and Trey McNutt on the mound was quickly forgotten by the sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium after the benches cleared in the 8th inning of an 8-2 Boise Hawks win over the Everett Aquasox.

Jung allowed just one hit in four innings of work, helped by a trio of double plays behind him, with McNutt not allowing a hit in his three innings of shutout relief.

The Hawks broke open a 1-0 game in the fourth with a bases-loaded walk by Hak-Ju Lee and a two-run infield single from Logan Watkins.  However, after a Lee bunt-base hit in the eighth that resulted in a throwing error and two runs to score to push the Boise lead to 7-0, Frogs reliever Kyle Brown buzzed Watkins with a pair of pitches – with plate umpire Javier Cantu ejecting the lefty.  Following an exchange with Cantu, Everett skipper John Tamargo got into a war of words with Hawks manager Casey Kopitzke near the third-base bag – with the benches and bullpens quickly emptying.  Although there was some short-range shouting, nothing more than a war of words were exchanged.

In talking with multiple sources, Tamargo was still upset of the rash of hit by pitches in the series – starting with his slugger Gerardo Avila, who was injured Tuesday by a 90-mile per hour fastball in the batting helmet from Jon Nagel.  Two Everett and two Boise batters were also plunked tonight.  He was also displeased with the bunt by Lee, especially since it was a 5-0 game in the eighth inning.

Memorial Stadium Magic, Part 4

davis1.jpgLongtime Voice of the Hawks called it in our recent Hawk Talk interview, “Memorial Stadium Magic” – all of the wild, come-from-behind victories that the Hawks have been able to muster on their home field over the years.

Chalk up the fourth version of MSM this season – thanks to Texan Runey Davis (pictured left).  First this season it was Greg Rohan singling home the winning run in the ninth against Yakima on June 29, George Matheus doing the same in the 10th against Eugene on July 5, and Justin Bour singling home the game-winner in the 11th against Salem-Keizer on July 18.

Last night, the game started with a bang, as shortstop Hak-Ju Lee muscled up for a three-run home run in the second (listen to the radio call
LeeHR.wma) to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead.  Unfortunately, the club could not hold the lead, trailing 7-5 in the eighth with two outs.  However a walk and single put the tying runs on, with Bour deadlocking the game at seven with a two-run double (listen to the radio call
Bour2Ba.wma).  In the ninth, Bobby Wagner led off with a bad-hop single into right, and was sacrificed to second.  With two outs, Davis took a 2-2 pitch and drove it up the middle for the walk-off winner (listen to the radio call
DavisGW.wma).

GORGEOUS NIGHT AT THE PARK: Typically at this time of the year, the temperatures are in the mid-90s at Memorial Stadium, making the first-base bleachers a tough place to sit.  However, game-time temperature at the park tonight was 79-degrees, helping a nice walk-up crowd watch the victory over Everett.  It is supposed to be even cooler tomorrow for Fireworks Friday, mid-70s, which should transfer into a crowd of well-over 3,000.

THE BACON: Davis had a pair of hits tonight, extending his hitting streak to a season-high six games…Richard Jones also added a pair of hits and has hit safely in six of his last seven games, raising his batting average from .159 to .265…the Hawks have hit 14 home runs this year, seventh-best in the league – one ahead of Vancouver, with six of the long balls against Everett…

HELP OUT THE COMMUNITY: The Hawks will be trying to help the less-fortunate this weekend, collecting food items Friday night for the Idaho Food Bank, and collecting school supplies on Saturday night. 

Boise welcomes back Hawks with win

jones.jpgAfter a long eight-game road trip, a nice crowd of 2,425 fans on a Tuesday night welcomed Boise’s Boys of Summer back to the Treasure Valley, and the Hawks did not disappoint, logging 18 hits in a 13-7 victory over the Everett Aquasox.

Leading the charge was catcher Richard Jones (pictured left), who had his best game in a Boise uniform, going 4-for-5 with a double and a key three run home run (listen to the call
JonesHR.wma) to help the Hawks to the win.

fitz.jpgOther Hawks had big games – as D.J. Fitzgerald (pictured right stealing second) got the club off to a great start launching a long home run in the second inning (listen to the call
FitzgeraldHR.wma).  After Everett was able to take the lead in the third, the bullpen was stellar – as Yohan Gonzalez and Andres Quezada put up zeros in the fourth through seventh innings – with the offense coming through.  Hak-Ju Lee had an RBI single in the fourth, then a leadoff triple in the sixth – scoring the go-ahead run on a Logan Watkins fielders choice.  Bobby Wagner had three hits and two RBI, with Greg Rohan extending his hit streak to seven with a three-hit, two RBI game.

PLAYING LONGBALL: Facing the team with the most home runs in the league, the Hawks have done most of their longball damage against the Frogs, smacking six of their 13 homers this season against Everett…tonight marked just the second time this season that Boise had hit two homers in a game…conversely, the Northwest League’s HR leader, Gerardo Avila, was knocked from the game by a 90-mile per hour fastball by Jon Nagel off the batting helmet in the second inning…no word on his condition.

THE BACON: Ryan Sontag retired both left-handed hitters he faced in relief, with lefties now 0-for-24 against Sontag in 2009…each of the first eight hitters in the Hawks order had at least one hit, while the No. 9 hitter, Jose Valdez, had two walks and was aboard four times.

COMING UP: Expect a big crowd on Wednesday night for Family Feast Night, coupled with our annual Latino Night.

A true get-away day

cmu.gifDan Taylor did not give the Boise Hawks much of a chance at a three-game sweep and a .500 road trip, as the Central Michigan product scattered just two hits in seven innings, striking out ten, as Yakima rolled to a 5-0 victory in the series finale tonight.

The Hawks managed singles from D.J. Fitzgerald and Logan Watkins – but looked like a team ready to get home after being gone for eight days, as the final 15 men were set down in order – six on first-pitch swings.

Boise did see a pair of good outings on the mound by Josh Lansford and Danny Keefe, who combined to throw 4.1 innings of scoreless relief – as Keefe retired seven of the eight men he faced.

boomer.jpgTHANK YOU’S TO THE BEARS STAFF: Lotsa thank you’s go out to K.L., Mike, and the Yakima staff for a great weekend for me and my family.  Especially to Boomer (pictured right), who befriended little P.J. – who when he woke up this morning at home (we made the trip in just under five hours – don’t tell the WSP, OSP, or ISP – but am exhausted right now), he wanted his Boo-Boo. The staff at the Best Western Ahtanum Inn was awesome too – and yes, I found my missing key – which I will return to them next week when we return to the Yakima Valley.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Hawks open up a nine-day, eight-game homestand starting with the Everett Aquasox – a team that had to endure a rain delay, then rain-shortened game against Eugene tonight.  Andres Esquibel, who blanked Boise on three hits last Thursday, will face the Hawks in the series opener.  Saturday will be a fun night, as it is 2009 Baseball Card give-away night – who knows which player may be the next big thing.

A win on Monday means a .500 road trip

DSC02164.JPGFrom where the team was on Thursday night to today, it is a complete 180-degree turn, as the Hawks used a couple of big innings, capitalizing on three Yakima errors to claim a 9-5 victory over the Bears – their third win in a row.

What is amazing is the fact that if the Hawks can pick up a win tomorrow night, they would head home with a 4-4 record on the road swing – which isn’t an easy thing to do in the Northwest League.

Tonight’s heroes came in different places – at the plate it was Jose Guevara and Bobby Wagner.  Guevara, who was hitting just .088 before his call-up from Mesa, had a pair of doubles, including a two-run smash in the eighth inning to push the lead to 7-2, while Wagner had a two-run double as part of a four-run fifth, then hit his second home run of the season in the ninth for insurance.  On the mound, Trey McNutt battled some control issues – two walks and two hit by pitches, but pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, followed by Corey Martin, who pitched three scoreless innings, retiring eight-straight batters at one point.

DSC02169.JPGCOUNTY STADIUM: The Hawks will make a second trip here to County Stadium (here is a look at the view from the press box) to open up the 12-game swing as the Western Idaho Fair takes over Memorial Stadium.  The park has one of the more impressive grills in the league – from Philly Cheesesteaks, to chicken, to burgers – or the 16-inch hot dogs (pictured to the right) that they sell for a dollar on Friday nights.  Last season, the grill staff made a great concoction for me – 3/4 root beer, 1/4 lemonade (doesn’t sound great, until you try it…it is pretty good).

BoomerPJ.jpgWHAT I DO BEFORE A GAME: With my family in town and an afternoon start, I had some time to kill before the game – so I decided to play with bubbles with my son, PJ, at County Stadium, which was a blast.  PJ had the play of the night, as he retrieved a foul ball off Wagner’s bat in the first inning – one more foul ball than his dad has at a game as a fan.  He then spent the rest of the night chasing around the Bears mascot, Boomer (pictured with the Safford boys).

THE BACON: Dionis Nunez allowed three runs in the ninth inning tonight, the first time in eight appearances that the right-hander had allowed a run, dating back to mid-July…Greg Rohan extended his hitting streak to a career-high six games with a single…the Iowa Cubs and Las Vegas 51s played their Road to Wrigley game at Wrigley Field today – with former Boise Hawk Blake Parker picking up the save for the I-Cubs…former Hawk, Brian Dopirak, with the 51s, went 1-for-4…the Hawks have won 7-of-8 from Yakima this season.

Yaki-Vegas welcomes Hawks with a win

yakima.jpgThe sign as you drive into Yakima tells it all “The Palm Springs of Washington” – abundant golf courses, great weather, tons and tons of fresh fruit stands, and wins for the Boise Hawks.  The Hawks continued their winning ways against the Yakima Bears tonight, claiming a 5-4 victory at County Stadium on Shane Victorino bobblehead night (a 2000 Bear alum).

Josh Whitlock got a spot start tonight and was stellar, retiring the first eight men he faced, then worked out of a two-out jam in the third.  The Hawks built a 4-0 lead in the sixth, thanks to a Greg Rohan two-run single and an RBI triple by Richard Jones – his second triple in as many games.  Boise would take a 5-1 lead into the ninth, but it got interesting, as Gerson Montilla hit a three-run homer around the foul pole in left, to cut the margin to 5-4, but Ryan Sontag struck out Dan Kaczrowski to end the game.

Jose Valdez went 4-for-4 with a walk, with Logan Watkins recording three hits – both responding after a tough series in Everett.  D.J. Fitzgerald doubled and tripled – scoring the eventual winning run in the top of the ninth.

Thumbnail image for stadium.jpg

ABOUT YAKI-VEGAS: Another term for the Yakima Valley is Yaki-Vegas, as there are numerous state-owned mini-casinos in town (including the Caribbean Casino close to the hotel that has been frequented by the Hawks over the years), along with the Legends Casino, owned and operated by the Yakama (note the spelling) Tribe.  County Stadium (pictured right) was built in 1993 on the Central Washington State Fairgrounds, next to the old Yakima Meadows horse track and the SunDome.  It has quirky demensions – just 293 down the lines (which helped Montilla’s homer tonight), but is very deep in the gaps and 406 feet to center.  Tonight’s attendance was 2,047 – about 2/3 full, but if you listened to the broadcast, you would have thought there were 12,047 fans.

THE BACON: Pitching coach David Rosario was in street clothes again tonight, serving the final game of his three-game suspension due to his ejection in Everett…skipper Casey Kopitzke handled all of the conversations on the mound…the Hawks top two hitters – Hak-Ju Lee and Justin Bour were both given the day off…Rohan’s two-run single extended his hitting streak to five games a season-high…Valdez had the Hawks fourth four-hit game of the year, joining Brett Jackson, George Matheus, and Watkins (who also had a five-hit game)…Boise has won four-straight against the Bears and are now 6-1 against Yakima this season. 

Headed to Yakima on a good note

Hernandez2.jpgSome early run support, some quality defense, and outstanding pitching helped the Hawks salvage the final game of their five-game series at Everett, as Boise blanked the Aquasox, 3-0.

Robert Hernandez was the story on the mound, becoming the first Boise pitcher to toss six innings this season, allowing six hits, no walks, and four strikeouts, while Dionis Nunez slammed the door shut, retiring all six men in order to pick up his fourth save.

Greg Rohan provided all of the offense the Hawks needed in the third, launching his third home run of the season to left.  Richard Jones, who had a pair of extra base hits in the win, tripled and scored on a Runey Davis sacrifice fly later in the inning.  The duo would strike again with two outs in the ninth, rapping back to back doubles.

rain.jpg

GLAD THEY WERE IN EVERETT: The high temperature in Everett was 66-degrees at Memorial Stadium under cloudy skies – a far cry from the weather in the Treasure Valley, which saw Boise receive nearly and inch and a half of rain over the last 36 hours – with temperatures barely reaching the 60 degree mark – the coldest August high temperature of all time.

TURN BACK THE CLOCK: Former Voice of the Hawks, Rob Simpson, who called Boise games from 1996-2000 and Idaho Steelheads games from 1996-2001, was in Everett and handled some play-by-play duties on KRKO radio with Aquasox play-by-play man, Pat Dillon.  Simpson currently works for the NHL Network and NHL.com and has league meetings over the weekend in Vancouver, B.C.

OFF TO THE PALM SPRINGS OF WASHINGTON: The Hawks will roll into Yakima midday tomorrow, and once they cross the Yakima River – they will pass the sign that reads “The Palm Springs of Washington”.  It is an oasis in the middle of a desert – with copious amounts of eating options, yet the smallest market in the Northwest League.

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