Dust Devils await Boise Hawks for 5-game NWL series

By Jack Millikin, Tri-City HeraldJune 28, 2014 

When the Boise Hawks visit Gesa Stadium tonight for the first of a five-game Northwest League series against the Tri-City Dust Devils, they won’t quite resemble the fear-inspiring, club-swinging hitting machine they were in the first week of the season.

That version of the Hawks included the Chicago Cubs’ first-round draft pick Kyle Schwarber, three-year veteran second baseman David Bote and second-year outfielder Kevin Brown, who all combined to make life quite difficult for the Dust Devils from June 13-17 in Boise.

Actually, it was mostly Schwarber, a 6-foot-2 catcher out of the University of Indiana who did most of the damage, going 12-for-20 with four home runs and 10 RBIs as the Hawks outscored Tri-City 40-23 while taking four of five games.

Bote and Brown weren’t as explosive during that first week, but each did their part to contribute to Boise wins.

But Schwarber and Bote each got promoted to Kane County, the Cubs’ Midwest League affiliate in Indiana back on June 20, and Brown (.293, 7 doubles, 12 RBIs, was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League on Saturday.

After Bote and Schwarber departed, the Hawks lost their next seven games. Coming into tonight, Boise has won just two of its last 11 games.

But Tri-City won’t exactly be the same team, either. In addition to losing shortstop Trevor Story (High-A Modesto), the Dust Devils recently promoted two of their top hitters — David Bergin (Double-A Tulsa) and Mike Tauchman (High-A Modesto) — after they were moved up the ladder on June 25.

So while fans might not see the high-scoring affairs that these two teams produced two weeks ago, you can still expect to see some good baseball.

Since that first week, several of the Dust Devils draftees have started to produce, including outfielder Drew Weeks (.393, 11 runs, 3 stolen bases) and second baseman Sam Bumpers (.368, 6 runs, 8 RBIs). And pitcher Helmis Rodriguez (2-0, 1.04 ERA) has proven to be of the brightest prospects of the NWL.

The Hawks are still getting production out of catcher Justin Marra (.298, 3 HRs, 10 RBI), who would be a backup to Schwarber at any level but will likely be a NWL all-star. Plus, pitcher Tyler Ihrig (1-0, 3.50 ERA, 17 strikeouts) has been one of the league’s most consistent starters

Tony Bryant watch: The former Kennewick star got roughed up in his first start for Tri-City on June 14, giving up six runs in four innings to a loaded Boise team in a 10-5 loss. But Bryant, who has since made two starts for Grand Junction (Colo.), has gotten better with every start with the Rockies.

Bryant, who compiled a 1.93 ERA in his professional debut in Tri-Cities last season, picked up his first pro victory in a 6-3 win at Ogden (Utah). In two starts, he is 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA.

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