Former college teammates, roommates pair up with Boise Hawks

Boise Hawks outfielder Steven Linkous is tagged out at second by Salem-Keizer’s Kevin Rivera during Opening Day at Memorial Stadium.
Boise Hawks outfielder Steven Linkous is tagged out at second by Salem-Keizer’s Kevin Rivera during Opening Day at Memorial Stadium.

During a preseason meeting, Boise coaches instructed the Hawks to sign up for roommates on road trips.

Eyes shifted around the room, searching for a partner. But Hawks outfielder Steven Linkous and reliever Jared Gesell both gave each other the look, knowing they’d pair up.

That’s the advantage of spending your first season as a professional with a former college roommate.

“We just kind of looked at each other like, ‘Alright, we’ll go together,’ ” Gesell said.

The Colorado Rockies drafted Linkous in the 22nd round out of UNC Wilmington in June, then 10 minutes later selected Gesell in the 23rd round.

Linkous followed the draft online at his mother’s house and was still on the phone receiving congratulations when his sister exclaimed the Rockies also drafted his freshman-year roommate.

Neither had spoken to the Rockies since the fall of their senior year, but both were recommended to Colorado by the same area scout.

“I was like, ‘Woah, that’s crazy,’ ” Linkous said.

The two helped UNC Wilmington reached the NCAA Regionals for the second straight season this spring, with Gesell serving as the team’s closer. Linkous hit leadoff, topping the Colonial Athletic Association with a .374 batting average and leading the NCAAs with 78 runs scored.

Gesell has excelled in his first month as a professional, posting a 0.93 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 9 ⅔ innings.

“He’s a nice guy when he comes out to pitch, attacking the hitters, being very aggressive,” Hawks manager Andy Gonzalez said. “That’s good to see. He’s not afraid of any situation out there.”

Linkous has scuffled this summer, hitting .206 as he fights for playing time on a roster with six outfielders. But beginning a new career in a new city on the other side of the country surrounded by strangers, Linkous said seeing one friendly face in the clubhouse has helped ease the transition from college to the pros.

“Coming in as a new guy, you don’t know anybody else,” Linkous said. “So at least you have one guy you’ve been with for four years. I know Jared. I know everything about him.

“It’s good to know if I ever need anything, I can go up to him and ask him personally. It’s always good to have someone like that.”

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

Hawks 4, Canadians 3

Boise jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four innings and held on to win for the fifth time in seven games Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

Second baseman Luis Castro drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning to drive in the winning run for Boise (12-18). Garrett Hampson, Willie Abreu and Eric Toole each collected two hits for the Hawks, and Daniel Koger, Marc Magliaro and Julian Fernandez combined to throw 2  2/3 scoreless innings to close the game.

The Hawks hit the road for a three-game series in Salem-Keizer before returning home to host Spokane on Thursday.