Hawks finish first half on high note

Boise blanks Everett again, enters second half with one blemish in its past 10 games.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comJuly 23, 2013 

  • Hawks 10, Aquasox 0

    The Boise Hawks posted their second straight three-hit shutout Monday over the Everett Aquasox at Memorial Stadium.

    Five Hawks pitchers combined for the shutout, including reliever Sam Wilson, who had four strikeouts, walked one and did not yield a hit in two innings for the win. Boise (21-17) busted out 15 hits in the victory, the team's fourth straight game with 13 or more hits — the Hawks have 59 during that span.

    All nine Boise hitters had at least one hit, including six with two apiece. Everett (23-15) did not have a baserunner advance past first base.

There is still plenty of baseball to play, but the Boise Hawks’ past 10 games have them excited for the next 38.

Boise (21-17), which is 9-1 in its last 10, wrapped up the first half of the season with a 10-0 victory Monday over the Everett Aquasox for its first winning first-half record since 2008. The Hawks lost eight of nine before their recent run.

“I’ve been most impressed with how we’ve handled the last two weeks, coming off a losing streak, dug deep and have been carrying that mentality for a while,” infielder David Bote said.

Manager Gary Van Tol, who had only one player born before 1990 on Opening Day, said the Hawks’ up-and-down run through most of the first half was not exactly a huge surprise, and has been steadied in part since the signing deadline passed July 12.

“That’s to be expected a bit with a young team, with all the roster moves, the draft picks signing, but now that’s past us, and it’s settling down a little bit,” Van Tol said.

Among those Cubs signees is the team's prized prospect — third baseman Kris Bryant.

Bryant, the No. 2 overall pick in last month's MLB draft, hit 31 home runs this past season for the University of San Diego, more than 223 of the 298 Division I teams. He is in Mesa, Ariz., with the Cubs’ Rookie League team, but is expected to come to Boise as soon as this week.

“I’m excited to work with him,” Van Tol said. “With everything I know about him, he’s a huge part of the Cubs’ future and will be able to be a big boost for us (in Boise).”

Though it is a small part of a 76-game schedule, the Hawks pointed to their back-to-back wins, Monday’s win and Sunday’s 7-0 win over Everett, as a sign of growth by bouncing back after their seven-game winning streak was snapped the prior day.

“We hadn’t done that before,” Van Tol said.

The Hawks racked up 16 hits, and pitcher James Pugliese tossed five shutout innings Sunday.

“It’s baseball,” Pugliese said. “You’re going to lose games, so it was good to have that. Showed what we can do as a complete team.”

Pugliese, who was named Northwest League pitcher of the week Monday after throwing 11 shutout innings in his two starts, has anchored a rotation that has given up the fewest earned runs in the league.

“There’s not enough innings for the staff we’ve got, and that’s a good problem to have,” Van Tol said. “We’ve been getting some great starts, and the relievers are making the most of each appearance, so I’ve been pleased with that.”

The Hawks also led the league with a .270 batting average in the first half of the season, with Van Tol praising players like Shawon Dunston (.328), Lance Rymel (.324) and Daniel Lockhart (.310) for their plate approaches. Dunston and Rymel hit a combined .186 in Boise last season, and Lockhart hit .221 in a full season in Mesa.

“I think we’ve got quite a few guys who can hit, so we’re not always having to lean on just one or two guys, and that allows us to battle each and every game,” said Bote, a .250 hitter who is 7-of-12 in his last four games and leads the team with five home runs.

With a solid rotation, a more stable roster and the expected addition of Bryant (along with the return of injured .280 hitter Jacob Hannemann), Van Tol can’t help but look ahead.

“I really like where we’re at, and it’s shaping up to be pretty exciting in the second half,” Van Tol said.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420,Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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