If the future of the Chicago Cubs lies in the low minors, then those prospects took another step in building a winning tradition tonight when the Boise Hawks defeated the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks), 3-2 to win their best-of-three series two games to one.
The hero of tonight's game was starter Felix Pena, who pitched seven innings for the first time in his career and didn't allow a single run to score. The only time he was in trouble was the second inning when he gave up a one-out single and then a double to put runners on second and third. But when he needed it the most, he struck out the next batter and then retired the side with a ground out. The strikeout was one of only two the ground ball specialist had all night. But he got thirteen ground outs to only five fly outs and didn't walk anyone. Pena allowed five hits.
All three of Boise's runs scored in the third inning when catcher Willson Contreras walked and later scored on a wild pitch. Next the Hawks loaded the bases with walks by Gioskar Amaya and Jeimer Candelario sandwiched around a fly out. Then Dan Vogelbach hit a fly ball that Bears left fielder Michael Lang lost in the lights for a two-run single, giving the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
Brian Smith relieved Pena in the eighth inning and allowed a single and then a walk to the first two batters he faced. The next batter hit an easy ground ball to second baseman Amaya, who threw the ball away attempting to make the out at second base. One run scored and runners were on second and third with no outs.
Smith faced one more batter and got a ground out to first base which scored a run, made the score 3-2, and put a runner on third with one out. Smith then exited for Eddie Orozco who got a huge strikeout for the second out. Then Bears first baseman Jacob House hit a ground ball up the middle off of Orozco. Amaya then redeemed himself with a diving stop of the ball and then he threw the ball to first from his knees for the third and final out, preventing the tying run from scoring.
Orozco then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to complete the save, striking out one more.
The Hawks only had five hits in tonight's game, all singles. Second baseman Amaya was 1 for 2 with two walks and a stolen base. Center fielder Albert Almora was 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base.
Only 368 fans showed up for this game, which was the final game in Yakima as the franchise is moving to Hillsboro, Oregon next season.
The Hawks are on the road to Vancouver as I write this for game one of the best-of-three series. Game two and three (if necessary) will be played in Boise on Saturday and Sunday.
You can listen to game one tonight (Thursday) at 9:05 Chicago time on Boisehawks.com. However, Hawks radio broadcaster Mike Safford did not make the trip to Vancouver, so you'll have to listen to the Vancouver radio feed. That will be pretty much the same, except that instead of having color commentary describing the great defense of Hawks center fielder Albert Almora, you'll get colour commentary describing the great defence of Hawks centre fielder Albert Almora. It'll probably sound the same on the radio.