Sports

Boise Hawks ready for fresh start in second half of season

First baseman Jacob Bosiokovic has been one of the bright spots of the first half for the Boise Hawks. But he was fooled on this breaking ball against Eugene on June 21.
First baseman Jacob Bosiokovic has been one of the bright spots of the first half for the Boise Hawks. But he was fooled on this breaking ball against Eugene on June 21. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

The Boise Hawks closed the first half of the 2016 season Monday with a 4-2 home loss to the Spokane Indians. And like the first year as a Rockies’ affiliate, this summer hasn’t seen many tallies in the win column for Boise.

The Hawks finish the first half 16-22 (.421) in last place of its division and the Northwest League.

But the leauge allows Boise and the rest of the eight-team circuit to start over Tuesday, wiping the records clean for the final 38 games of the summer.

Eugene claimed a playoff berth with its South Division title, but Boise can still reach the playoffs by winning the division in the second half.

Here’s a look back at the first half and what’s coming up in the second half.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

The Hawks got off to a disastrous start, losing seven of their first nine games and going 4-10 in June.

Boise bounced back in July, finishing the first half 12-12 in the month. But the slow start doomed the Hawks to the league cellar.

“We were plagued by our bad start,” Boise first baseman Jacob Bosiokovic said. “We’ve played a lot better as of late. If we just keep playing how we were and that rough start wasn’t with us, we’d be in pretty good shape.”

The prime culprit comes from the pitching staff. The Hawks rank last in the league entering Monday in runs allowed (211) and ERA (4.49), just as they did last season on their way to a league-worst 30-46 (.395) record.

WHAT WENT RIGHT?

Several Hawks have rocketed up to the top of the Northwest League leaderboards, especially Bosiokovic.

Entering Monday, he led the league in hits (42), extra-base hits (16), batting average (.347) and slugging percentage (.545). He also ranked second in on-base percentage (.444) as he’s reached base in all 33 games as a pro. And he’s shown surprising speed for his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame with 11 stolen bases, fourth in the league.

Other highlights include utility infielder Luis Castro (league-leading five home runs); starting pitchers Javier Medina (league-leading five wins) and Erick Julio (fifth with 3.50 ERA); and reliever Julian Fernandez (league-leading eight saves).

WILL THE SECOND HALF BE ANY BETTER?

If Eugene adds a second-half title to its first-half crown, the team with the next best overall claims the second playoff spot, a tough hill for Boise to climb. But if Eugene cools off and the Hawks keep up their recent pace, they’ll remain in the hunt for a second-half title.

“We’re just putting it all together,” shortstop Garrett Hampson said. “Pitching, defense, hitting — we’d usually have one area each game that would perform, and then the other would be mediocre. We’re starting to play well together and put quality games together as a team.”

The Hawks will have to contend with the schedule in the second half with 22-of-38 games on the road, including an 11-game road trip in August during the Western Idaho Fair. The Hawks are 5-11 away from home.

Boise moved to a six-man rotation Sunday with Rico Garcia, a 30th-round pick in June, providing the extra arm in the rotation. If he, Medina and Julio can continue to eat innings and the Hawks can crawl out of last place in ERA, the wins should keep piling up.

Hawks manager Andy Gonzalez said half a season of experience should help the pitching staff.

“They know the league, hitters from different teams, and are making an adjustment,” Gonzalez said. “It’s about feeling comfortable and trusting all the work you do in the background, bullpens, sides, and bringing that work you do on the side into the game.

“Guys are beginning to trust the process, and that’s what this is — a process.”

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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