The Boise Hawks gave up seven unearned runs as they lost Game Three of the Northwest League Championship Series 12-9. Vancouver won the series and the title two games to one.
Every time Vancouver put runs on the board in the top of an inning, Boise responded in the bottom. The first inning ended with the Hawks leading 4-2. Each team scored three times in the fifth leaving the score at 7-5 Boise heading into the eighth inning. Two walks, a wild pitch, and an error allowed Vancouver to load the bases with one out. With two outs, after the inning should have been over, those runs started to score. A hit batter brought home the first one, but that was only the beginning. Another error allowed the inning to continue, and before it was over seven runs had crossed the plate. Not one of those runs were earned.
- Tayler Scott had a rough time as the starter, but Michael Heesch, the second pitcher up for the Hawks, pitched very well. Heesch allowed just one hit and struck out four over 3.1 innings.
- Brian Smith and Juan Paniagua recorded the final outs for the Hawks. Both pitchers pitched two thirds of an inning, and both struck out two.
- It is hard to fault the Hawks offense in this one. As a team they amassed 15 hits; six different individuals had two hits apiece. Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, Stephen Bruno, Daniel Vogelbach, Rock Shoulders, and Jeimer Candelario all had two hits in the game.
- Vogelbach hit his first career postseason home run in the first inning.
- Albert Almora, whose presence was a pleasant surprise after a serious wall collision the night before, and Darien Martin each reached base twice on a single and a walk.
- 1,517 fans came out for Game Three. This team had sold over 3,000 tickets for games earlier in the regular season, but they just couldn’t get the fans to the ballpark for the Championship Series. That seems very, very strange to me.
Boise is last of the Cubs’ minor league teams to wrap up their season. The Hawks had a tough time of it in the first half of the summer, but after some additional talent arrived from the Arizona Rookie League roster Boise won the second half divisional title easily. In the playoffs, Boise essentially beat themselves. The Hawks gave up way too many unearned runs in both of Vancouver’s wins in the Championship Series.
Still, even with the disappointing finish to the year, there is plenty to be happy about in the Northwest. To start with, the Hawks’ infield might just be the most talented in the minor leagues. All four infield starters are legitimate prospects who are candidates for the Cubs’ Top 20 Prospects lists this winter. Albert Almora and Rock Shoulders both put up some pretty good numbers in the outfield as well. Stephen Bruno played all over the diamond, and he hit no matter where he played. On the mound, several Boise pitchers looked good this year. Tayler Scott, his last performance notwithstanding, had a solid season, as did Jose Arias, Felix Pena, and Michael Heesch. Eduardo Orozco, Bryce Shafer, and Nathan Dorris all had some success as a closer for this team, and all will likely be used in that capacity as they start to move up the farm system next year.
The future looks bright for Boise, or whatever city the Cubs’ Short-Season A affiliate plays for. There was plenty of talent in Arizona that will head to Short-Season ball next summer, and with the Cubs’ new commitment to both the draft and the international free agent market, the talent pipeline is unlikely to run dry anytime soon. It may be some time before Boise fans see a team as ridiculously loaded as this squad was, but their loss is the gain of Cubs’ farm team fans across the country.