Boise Hawks' outfield duo stays hot

Jeffrey Baez and Rashad Crawford extend their hitting streaks in loss.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comJuly 18, 2014 

When Boise outfielder Jeffrey Baez is on a hot hitting streak, he only has one thought.

"See ball, hit ball," he said through assistant coach Guillermo Martinez, who translated.

Rashad Crawford, who patrols the outfield alongside Baez at Memorial Stadium, clears his mind at the plate. But before he's there, it's a whirlwind of a checklist.

Coming off the field, he puts his hat and glove on the dugout steps. While pacing a bit, he puts on his left batting glove, then his right. He puts a wrist guard in his left pocket, grabs his bat with his left hand and his helmet with his right. His first step up the dugout is with his right foot, then he spits once clear of the dugout on his way to the on-deck circle.

"If I'm hitting well, I have to do everything the exact same way," Crawford said.

Both players' approaches continued to serve them well Thursday in the Hawks' loss to Spokane, as Baez extended his hitting streak to 20 straight, and Crawford to 17 straight. The Northwest League record is 26 consecutive games with a hit, accomplished in 1962 and 1982.

Like a no-hitter, which shall remain unsaid while in progress, players often don't speak of streaks like the ones the duo currently are riding.

"I didn't know until someone told me before (Wednesday's) game, and said I was at 18," Baez said. "… I don't think about it, but I want to keep the streak alive as long as I can, because that means I'm helping us win."

The Hawks are 12-5 during the streak in which both players have had hits.

"It's obviously pretty good to be able to put together a good stretch like we have, but it means more that it's playing a part in us winning. If I don't get a hit and we win, I'm a lot happier than if I get one and we lose," Crawford said.

Boise is battling Hillsboro for the top spot in the Northwest League's South Division, trailing the Hops by a game entering Thursday night. The division leader at the season's halfway point (following July 21's games), earns a postseason berth.

Though the team's streak of four straight wins ended Thursday, it has helped Hawks team get into position. Baez said he hasn't tried to speak much of the team's playoff push, but Crawford said for most it's a hot topic.

"Knowing there are only a couple games to the end of the first half, it's on everyone's mind, so hopefully we can put together a few more," Crawford said.

INDIANS 12, HAWKS 5

Spokane snapped Boise's four-game winning streak, scoring the last seven runs of Thursday's game.

After a three-run fifth inning tied it for the Hawks (19-15), Spokane (23-11) tagged reliever Ryan McNeil for four runs in 2‚ innings before he left with an apparent injury.

Eight of the nine Boise batters who came to the plate combined for 13 hits, led by shortstop Jason Vosler's 3-for-4 night, but the team stranded six runners in scoring position. Despite the loss, Boise remained a game back of Hillsboro in the Northwest League's South Division after the Hops lost 2-1 to Tri-City.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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