Closing out a fun road trip…
After a six-hour drive home through the unpopulated high-prairies of Eastern Washington and Oregon last night (dodging drunk drivers, coyotes, and a huge owl), I finally have time to recollect on the fun trip that we had – not only for the Safford family, but also for the Boise Hawks, who salvaged the final game of the series with a clutch come-from-behind, 4-2 win.
Monday was a fun day for the Saffords, as we had the opportunity to head to downtown Spokane and spend the afternoon at Riverfront Park – the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. Liza and PJ had the opportunity to ride a gondola over Spokane Falls, while PJ and I took a train ride around the park – as PJ was so excited to just ride on a “choo choo”. But the biggest thrill for us was at their midway – located inside an outdoor ice rink that is dry during the summer.
It was the first time that PJ had seen rides up close – but he wasn’t shy, even though he was too short to ride most of the rides by himself (so Dad had to purchase a pass for $10, which allowed he and I to go on unlimited rides). So PJ was off on an airplane ride, a pair of bounce houses, tea cups, the tilt-a-whirl, bumper boats, and a dizzying roller-coaster three different times – loving every minute of it with no fear (while Dad, who isn’t the best thrill-seeker, was struggling). It was fun.
Monday’s game was a tough-one, as Brandon May went down with a knee injury after a brilliant stop of a ground ball in the second inning and Tarlandus Mitchell injured a muscle during his pregame workouts. Both will end up on the Disabled List and will have to head to the rehab facility in Mesa to recooperate. Pitching struggled during the game, as Yao-Lin Wang ran out of gas in the fourth inning, walking two, then surrendering an RBI double. Joe Zeller provided no relief, as he allowed five hits in two innings – with every ball hit seemingly hit hard. The Hawks lost despite recording their third 11-hit game of the season, but stranded a season-high ten men.
Tuesday morning was spent in the swimming pool at the Mirabeau Park Hotel and Convention Center – which included a numbing belly-flop that my son loved, but reminded me why I hadn’t done that since high school. But PJ had a blast in the pool – he truly is a fish.
The game featured multiple quality performances by the Hawks – Alvaro Ramirez had a two-hit game, extending his hitting streak to seven games, knocking in two with a third inning single. Richard Jones hit a mammoth homer in the eighth inning that provided insurance. Starter Austin Kirk provided a second-straight quality start, allowing just four hits in five innings of work. Danny Keefe retired six of the seven men he faced, while Aaron Kurcz struck out the side in the eighth. Corey Martin had a tough go of it in the ninth, but got the final three outs for his seventh save in as many opportunities.
STREAK BUSTERS: Jose Guevara saw an 0-for-18 skid snapped on Monday night with a single, while Wes Darvill, who was 2-for-26 heading into Monday, added RBI singles in each of the final two games of the series.
THE DEPOT: The newest addition to Avista Stadium is by far the most unique attraction in the Northwest League. The Depot, situated in right field, is an actual dining car that blends into the surroundings (as the park is situated right in the heart of a rail-yard) – used to host groups. There are seats inside the car with great views of the field, along with seating along the four-foot-high outfield fence – all having an opportunity to catch a home run ball.
WHAT TO DO ON AN OFF-DAY: When you work two jobs during the summer (most know that I am also the Sports Information Director at The College of Idaho), it is rare that I get an off day, even when the Hawks have an off day. Today was the exception – although I tackled a challenge in the backyard, creating a sandbox for PJ out of a free tractor tire from one of the Hawks major sponsors – Les Schwab. I still need a bit more sand, but he absolutely loved it.