It’s a 76-Game Season

Opening Night in the Northwest League came and went like it has in past years – with all four teams in the West Division earning wins (two by walk-off fashion, another by recording just two hits), leaving the Boise Hawks in a four-way tie for first.

Last night was a frustrating loss for the squad – as Boise hit just 1-for-12 with runners-in-scoring-position and had the leadoff man aboard in each of the first five innings.

THE GOOD – It starts with starting pitcher Jose Arias, who tossed five shutout innings, allowing just three singles and striking out two.  Arias did not allow a runner to reach second base.  According to pitching coach David Rosario, his velocity was not what it has been (sat at 92-93 mph), but he threw his fastball where he wanted to all night.  Rosario also gave kudos to reliever Rafael Diplan, who was the stopper late in the game, throwing 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth, and out of a first-and-second, no out jam in the eighth.  Bryce Shafer also have an impressive outing, retiring 6-of-7 men he faced – after having a rough spring with the Peoria Chiefs.  Shafer looked like the guy who saved 12 games for the Hawks in 2011.

THE BAD – Despite getting a pair of hits, including the single that plated the tying run in the ninth inning, Marco Hernandez struggled in his Boise debut.  The shortstop came up on a pair of ground balls early – one in the first, one in the sixth inning, the second one prolonging the rally for S-K.  He then failed to cleanly pick the chopper in the 12th (albeit a tough play) that allowed the winning run to score.  I wasn’t going to harp on it this year, but the S-K staff, who failed to bring the Hawks staff in the clubhouse a postgame meal following the game (which forced the coaches to hit an Applebee’s at midnight, hoping they were still open before they could get their computer reports completed).

JERSEY ISSUE: The Hawks did not wear their typical road grey uniforms for the opener – after the sleeves of Arias’ jersey did not fit properly (I watched in the clubhouse where he could barely get the uniform on). So the squad wore the new alternate red “Main Street Mile” jerseys for the opener – which looked sharp.

TIDBITS – If you were listening to the game last night, you probably heard some strange comments in the latter innings, as a group of fans decided to camp out under my crowd microphone – fans that had 3-or-4 too many alcoholic beverages.  It made for good radio (at least there wasn’t any FCC violations from their talk)…kudos to the S-K grounds crew, as the Volcanoes Stadium surface is as good as I have seen it in my nearly decade with the Hawks…Xavier Batista leads the NWL with two doubles after Game 1…the Hawks had two players report yesterday – catcher Justin Marra arrived at 3 p.m. from Mesa (15th Round pick in 2011) to give the team a back-up, while pitcher Hayden Simpson arrived at the ballpark at 8 p.m….in looking at the other NWL rosters, the Hawks are the lone team in the league without a 2012 Draft Pick on their roster.

FUNNY: Humorous moment of the night happened in both the 1st and 2nd innings – as after Shawon Dunston Jr. was caught stealing, bench coach Gary Van Tol, who was coaching at first ran off the field (thinking it was the 3rd out, when it was only the 2nd).  In the next inning, S-K first baseman Brian Nicholson rolled the ball back to the mound after a double play (though there were only two outs).  Both got a chuckle, and will probably get razzed by their respective Kangaroo Courts.

Tonight’s matchup – James Pugliese (0-0) vs. Joan Gregorio (0-0), 8:05 p.m. (MT) 1350 KTIK-AM

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