Hawks’ Bremer closes door on opponents

Former starter thriving on pressure of nailing down victories for Boise.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.com © 2013 Idaho StatesmanJuly 31, 2013 

  • HAWKS TOP INDIANS

    Kevin Encarnacion drove in two runs in his return to Boise’s lineup, and the Hawks defeated the Indians 5-3 on Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium.

    Kris Bryant, Cael Brockmeyer and Jacob Rogers had multihit games for the Hawks, who won the series 3-2.

    Scott Frazier threw three shutout innings to pick up his first professional save.

    Æ Prior to the game, Shawon Dunston, Jr. was placed on the seven-day disabled list. He hasn’t played since being injured July 21.

Before he could earn his fourth save of the season Sunday, Hawks pitcher Tyler Bremer was put in a big jam — a self-induced jam.

Bremer, holding onto a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning against Spokane, yielded two hits and a walk to load the bases with no one out.

Then Bremer promptly sat down the next three batters via strikeout.

“If I put myself in it, who better than to get out of it but me?” Bremer said Tuesday.

A collegiate starter at three schools, lastly Baylor, the bullpen has fit Bremer’s embrace of pressure. In 14 appearances, he’s struck out 31 in 18 innings, issuing four walks with a 2.50 ERA.

“It’s nice to have a guy like that late in the game,” Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said. “He’s a leader on the team, he wants the ball in those situations. He stays after it, doesn’t lose his composure — some guys might throw in the towel if they’re in a tough spot, but he almost thrives off it.”

The move to reliever wasn’t an immediate success for Bremer, who posted a 5.71 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 17[0xb7] innings last year in his first professional summer, playing for the Hawks and for Mesa in Rookie League.

“At first, I almost used it as an excuse, if I had a bad outing, I’d say ‘I’m not a reliever’ or ‘I’ve never had to do that before,’ but I got over it — the mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away,” Bremer said.

Van Tol said Bremer projects to maintain a similar role he’s had with the Hawks as a late-inning or setup man, especially with his improved strikeout rate and the fact batters are hitting .197 off him this season, as opposed to the .304 they hit off him last year.

“He’s made some adjustments in terms of his angle, throwing more with a downhill plane on his fastball,” Van Tol said. “He’d leave the ball a bit up on the plate, but he’s getting it lower in the zone. He’s got a great breaking ball, and he can come out of the pen with those two pitches, which are pretty tough to hit.”

After he got himself out of that tough situation Sunday, Bremer couldn’t hold back with the elation, unleashing a pair of powerful fist pumps. He also looked back on it as another learning experience for the next pressure-packed scenario.

“I think that was a first,” Bremer said. “It’s one of those things where now I have that behind me, where I can think back to it if I’m ever in a real tough situation and know I’m capable of getting out of it.

BOISE, KANE COUNTY SWAP FOUR: The Hawks sent a pair of players to Class A Kane County, and were returned two by the Cougars on Tuesday.

Pitcher Tyler Skulina and outfielder Jose Dore went to Kane County, while pitcher Juan Paniagua and outfielder Kevin Encarnacion came back to Boise — Paniagua played for the Hawks last season, while Encarnacion hit .298 in 13 games earlier this summer for Boise.

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