- Redhawks defeat Wise Guys 9-0 to capture Fall League championship, cap epic season
- Up next: Opening Day 2018 (April)
- 2017 HR: Bies (9), Weber (1), Johnson (1), Jark (1), Qiu (1)
- Redhawks record: 25-8 overall (15-5 summer; 8-0 fall)
- 2017 pitching records: Smith 6-0, Spira 6-1, Weber 4-1, Willis 4-2, Rodriquez 3-0, Jark 1-3
DOUBLE DIP: HAWKS WIN TWO TITLES IN '17
Redhawks add fall championship to go with prestigious summer title
ENGLEWOOD – Champs! Make that Champs! Champs!
The Redhawks accomplished their ambition of capping their Triple-A championship season with a second consecutive Fall League title, this time with a 9-0 win against the Wise Guys.
On another pristine October Sunday at Brent Mayne Field, the Redhawks (25-8) continued to wield their lights-out pitching staff and stingy defense, limiting the Wise Guys to a mere two hits. Starter Jeff Spira stifled the opposing attack and the Redhawks took immediate command by virtue of a six-run first.
“Fall doesn’t invoke the same passion as summer season, but it always feels good to be the best at anything you do,” Redhawks first baseman Tommy Cowan said. “Plus, the numbers we put up in fall were pretty remarkable.”
Those numbers included a 66-5 scoring advantage in an eight-game ambush through the fall, although the Redhawks did play two one-run games and were solidly challenged in a 4-2 victory against the A’s in the semifinals. Dating back to the summer postseason, the Redhawks allowed 10 runs in their final 10 games – all wins.
The Wise Guys were something of an unexpected title-game participant, having avoided the Triple-A Hops on their side of the bracket. Perhaps playing a little tight as the underdog, the Wise Guys made a bevy of first-inning mistakes that allowed the Redhawks to take command.
First, Dylan Smith’s fly ball to lead off the bottom of the first turned into a double when the fierce morning sun prevented the center fielder from making a play. After Smith stole third, Edison Rodriquez drove him home with a grounder to second. But the second baseman overthrew first and Rodriquez was on second. He then stole third and scored when the throw went into left field.
The Hawks had a quick 2-0 lead, then Adam Bies blasted an opposite-field homer and the Redhawks were cruising 3-0 three batters in.
With Spira (6-1) in control, that was already more than enough. The angular right-hander struck out five and permitted two singles in five innings, and finished the season 4-0 with a save in his final five appearances. More impressive, he allowed zero earned runs (four total) and only nine hits in that 28-inning span.
Paul Willis and Rodriquez finished the shutout by pitching an inning apiece, putting the finishing touches on a magnificent season that started a little rough. After opening 2017 a pedestrian 5-5, the Redhawks went 20-3 down the stretch. This marked the second time in which the Hawks won summer and fall titles, but the previous time (in 2013) the summer title was in 18 Wood.
Catcher Pat Davis finished with three RBIs, recording a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a two-run double in the sixth – the latter batting right-handed. Davis has experimented with batting right-handed against lefties this season, and this was his signature moment from the right side. Casey Hill also produced an RBI double for the Hawks.
The Redhawks have appeared in all six Fall League championship games and have won three.
Notes: The Redhawks played without center fielder Kyle Jark, who was vacationing in Europe. All 14 players in attendance got at least one at-bat and played at least two innings in the field. . . . The Redhawks will not consider adding players on a fulltime basis next season. Everyone is expected back and Rodriquez confirmed Sunday that he will officially join the squad for 2018. . . . The Redhawks reduced their team ERA to 2.93 for the season. They allowed only 3.9 runs per game overall. . . . Bies (nine homers, 46 RBIs) came one homer and three RBIs shy of tying single-season team benchmarks. . . . Left fielder Casey Hill spent the most innings in the field (233) and had the most plate appearances (125) of any player. He and fellow corner outfielder Chuck Gillem each ran down balls deep into the gap Sunday. . . . Willis closed the season with 15 scoreless innings. After battling UCL issues last season, the team’s eldest player went 4-2 with one save and a 3.00 ERA this season over 48 innings. . . . Utility player Justin Baum hosted the postgame party, which included yard games and was nearly unanimously attended.
Wise Guys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 0 – 0 2 4
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600 102 X – 9 7 0
Redhawks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Smith cf 3-2-2-0, Rodriquez ss-p 2-2-0-1, Bies dh-lf 3-1-1-1, Johnson 3b 2-2-1-0, Cowan 1b 3-1-1-0, Davis c 2-0-1-3, Hill lf 2-1-1-1, Weber 2b-3b 2-0-0-0, Willis p-lf 2-0-0-0, Qiu ss 1-0-0-0, Gillem rf 1-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 1-0-0-0, Baum rf 1-0-0-0, Spira p 1-0-0-0. Totals 29-9-7-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 6-1) 5-2-0-0-1-5, Willis 1-0-0-0-0-1, Rodriquez 1-0-0-0-1-1.
E – None. 2B – Hill (5), Davis (5), Smith (3). HR – Bies (9). SB – Rodriquez 2 (7), Smith (8). SF – Davis. HBP – Rodriquez.
HILL IS KING: HAWKS HEAD TO FALL TITLE GAME
Ambitions of winning summer and fall championships still alive
ENGLEWOOD – Whether he’s batting in the leadoff spot or as the rollover hitter, Casey Hill has a penchant for the dramatic.
He drove in the only two runs of the Triple-A championship game, and a week earlier, he sent the Redhawks to extra innings in the semifinals. With the Redhawks down to their final out in that one, he drilled an opposite-field RBI double that set the stage for an eventual extra-inning win.
Hill was back at it Sunday, using his heroics to help propel the Redhawks to the Fall League championship game with a 4-2 win against the Athletics. He drove in three of the Hawks’ four runs against an A’s squad that was well equipped for the challenge at Brent Mayne Field.
“Whenever I’m up with runners on base in a close game, I figure they have to give me something good to hit,” Hill said. “It was a first-pitch fastball both times today.”
Surprisingly, the Redhawks will take on the Wise Guys in the championship game (10 a.m., Sunday, Brent Mayne Field). The Hops were upset 3-2 by the Sloths in the quarterfinals. The Wise Guys have solid depth with teams in the 18AA and 25W division.
The left-handed Hill broke up a scoreless tie in the third with an opposite-field single that scored Kenneth Weber, who had doubled off the wall. With the Redhawks still clinging to the 1-0 lead in the fifth, Paul Willis produced an RBI single to score Kyle Jark, who had doubled.
After a Danny Qiu walk, Hill came to the plate again. He drilled another opposite-field liner, which ricocheted off a dirt patch and hopscotched over the left fielder. Both runs scored on the double to make it 4-0.
When a teammate said “Casey (expletive) Hill” to catcher Pat Davis, Davis responded with “KFH!” Davis’ lack of knowledge of how to spell Hill’s first name might have sparked an accidental nickname.
Hill’s heroics gave a solid cushion to Redhawks pitcher Edison Rodriquez, who crisscrossed his way through traffic throughout and carried a shutout into the seventh. After the A’s cut it to 4-1, Kenneth Weber was summoned to close it out. He retired three of the four batters he faced, allowing an RBI single.
The Redhawks reached the semifinals by virtue of an earlier 10-1 win against the Warriors in a contest notable for a junior-high tantrum thrown by one of the Warriors’ players at the conclusion.
Dylan Smith (6-0) threw a complete game, permitting only two hits and an unearned run in the first. The left-hander struck out eight. The Redhawks (24-8 overall, 7-0 fall) took command in the third when Smith drove home Hill with an RBI single and Adam Bies added a cue-shot two run single that curved around two Warriors infielders to make it 3-1.
The Redhawks poured it on in the fourth, a rally started by a rare hit-and-run, in which a stealing Weber scored from first on an opposite-field base hit by Willis. The Hawks led 7-1 after the inning.
With two outs in the seventh, Smith plunked the Warriors No. 7 hitter. It was purely incidental, but the hitter took exception and complained his way to first. A pitch later, he stole second. Although the Redhawks didn’t throw down, the runner intentionally tried to spike Rodriquez, who was covering the bag.
That prompted a near brawl, which included the Warriors player throwing his helmet at Redhawks third baseman Derek Johnson. Thankfully, his throw was about as accurate as his tosses from third base during the game, where he committed two errors. In full meltdown mode, the player used racial epitaphs and claimed that he was better than any player on the Redhawks. That was interesting, considering he batted seventh for a lower-tier fall team.
In fairness, the player probably could have cracked a C Team at a smaller school, assuming everyone who participated got a spot on the roster. Anyhow, the Redhawks resisted the urge to let such an insignificant figure spur them into a brawl that would have led to suspensions. The Redhawks and A’s followed with a classy, hard-nosed game.
Notes: Some of the Redhawks top-tier hitters struggled, as Jark, Rodriquez, Tommy Cowan and Derek Johnson combined to go 2-for-19 in the two games. . . . The Redhawks played without second baseman Sam Makovsky, pitcher Jeff Spira and catcher Justin Baum, who were out of town (Chuck Gillem is taking fall season off). . . . Jark (Europe) will miss the title game. . . . Weber’s save was his third of the season, which is the most ever by a Redhawks player. Several have recorded two in a season. . . . Third baseman Johnson was a part of five straight outs against the A’s. . . . The Redhawks have outscored fall opponents 57-5.
Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000 000 2 – 2 9 1
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 001 030 X – 4 5 2
Redhawks hitting (ab-rb-h-rbi) – Hill lf 3-0-2-3, Rodriquez p-2b 3-0-0-0, Cowan 1b 2-0-0-0, Bies rf 3-0-0-0, Johnson 3b 2-0-0-0, Jark cf 4-1-1-0, Davis c 2-0-0-0, Weber 2b 2-1-1-0, Willis dh 2-1-1-1, Qiu ss 1-1-0-0. Totals 23-4-5-4.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Rodriquez (W 3-0) 6-8-2-2-2-4, Weber (Sv 3) 1-1-0-0-0-1.
E – Davis, Qiu. 2B – Weber (11), Jark (8), Hill (4).
Warriors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 000 0 – 1 2 4
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 003 430 X – 10 9 2
Redhawks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Smith p 3-1-2-2, Rodriquez ss-2b 4-1-1-0, Jark cf-rf 4-0-0-0, Bies rf-cf 3-1-2-2, Cowan 1b 2-1-0-0, Johnson 3b 3-0-0-0, Davis c 2-1-1-0, Weber 2b 1-1-1-0, Willis dh-lf 3-1-1-2, Qiu dh-ss 3-1-1-0, Hill lf 1-2-0-0. Totals 29-10-9-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Smith (W 6-0) 7-2-1-0-2-8.
E – Weber 2. 2B – Bies (8), Davis (4). SB – Rodriquez (5), Cowan (5), Hill (4). HBP – Davis.
SHUTOUT STREAK ENDS BUT HAWKS KEEP WINNING
Despite managing only eight hits in two days, Hawks sweep two
ENGLEWOOD – The Redhawks pitchers have been magnificent this fall. The fielders have been equally stellar. Those bats, though.
Despite their seemingly limp lumber, the Redhawks won two more Fall League games this weekend. Their shutout streak ended at 32 innings, but the Redhawks defeated the Hitmen 2-1 on Saturday and the Raptors 7-1 on Sunday, both at Englewood.
The Hawks (22-8 overall, 5-0 fall) enter Sunday’s dual playoff rounds having permitted only one earned run (two overall) over the past 43 innings. But the bats haven’t quite matched that prowess. And they’ll need them to re-erupt considering they open the fall postseason against the Warriors, whom they defeated only 1-0 in the fall opener.
The Redhawks went 8-for-45 in the weekend’s two games and were scoreless until late in the game in each. All eight hits were singles, and the Hawks have yet to hit a yard ball this fall. They went a dreadful 3-for-22 on Sunday, although they were able to draw a hefty amount of walks to glean some traffic.
Here’s a look at each contest:
Redhawks 2, Hitmen 1
Jeff Spira and Dylan Smith combined to allow only one hit and the Redhawks scratched across two runs in the sixth to eke out the victory.
The shutout streak ended in the fourth after an error, a double and an RBI groundout. The Hitmen were up 1-0 at the time, and the Redhawks finally broke through in the sixth. Spira and Danny Qiu led off the inning with singles and scored on a pair of outs.
Spira scored on an RBI groundout by Sam Makovsky and Qiu came home on Casey Hill’s sacrifice fly. Spira (five innings, one hit, five strikeouts) earned the win and Smith picked up the save with two scoreless innings of relief.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 002 0 – 2 5 1
Hitmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 100 0 – 1 1 0
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf 1-0-0-1, Rodriquez ss 3-0-0-0, Smith 1b-p 3-0-2-0, Johnson 3b 3-0-1-0, Jark cf 2-0-0-0, Weber 2b-3b-ss 0-0-0-0, Willis lf 2-0-0-0, Baum c 2-0-0-0, Spira p-1b 2-1-1-0, Qiu ss-3b 2-1-1-0, Davis dh-c 1-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 2-0-0-1. Totals 23-2-5-2.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 5-1) 5-1-1-0-2-5, Smith (Sv 1) 2-0-0-0-1-2.
E – Qiu. SF – Hill. HBP – Hill, Jark, Baum.
Redhawks 7, Raptors 1
Paul Willis pitched five scoreless innings to earn the win, and the Redhawks finally broke through after starting the game 0-for-13.
After Edison Rodriquez was hit by pitch in the top of the fifth to become the Hawks’ first baserunner -- and then stole second – Derek Johnson drove him in with an opposite-field single. Tommy Cowan, Adam Bies and Dylan Smith then drew successive walks, the latter forcing in a run to make it 2-0. Kyle Jark capped the inning with a two-run single.
Rodriquez and Johnson added sacrifice flies in the sixth and the Redhawks were rolling. Johnson also made a spectacular dive-and-throw play down the third-base line to rob a hit in the fifth. Despite only recording three hits, the Redhawks drew seven walks. Jark finished up the final two innings on the mound, allowing an inconsequential run in the sixth.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 042 1 – 7 3 1
Raptors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000 001 0 – 1 9 1
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf-lf 1-1-0-0, Qiu ss-3b 1-0-0-0, Davis c 2-1-1-0, Baum dh 1-0-0-0, Rodriquez ss 1-1-0-1, Johnson 3b 2-1-1-2, Bies dh-rf 2-1-0-0, Cowan 1b 1-2-0-0, Smith lf-cf 2-0-0-1, Jark cf-p 3-0-1-2, Weber ss-2b 2-0-0-0, Willis p-lf 2-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 2-0-0-0. Totals 22-7-3-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis (W 4-2) 5-6-0-0-0-3, Jark 2-3-1-1-1-1.
E – Jark. SB – Smith (8), Rodriquez (4), Jark (3). SF – Rodriquez, Johnson. HBP – Rodriquez.
RODRIQUEZ STIFLES ATHLETICS, REDHAWKS ROLL
Hawks extend shutout streak to 29 innings in runaway win
ENGLEWOOD – The Redhawks continue to play in the fall because they thrive off the competition. If only more high-level teams would follow suit.
Part of the equation of fall ball is enduring a few non-competitive weekends, and Sunday was a direct example of that. The Redhawks throttled the Athletics 17-0 at Brent Mayne Field, routing a fairly decent squad that was missing a few of its key players, who were playing in NABA’s Arizona tournament.
In three Fall League games, the Redhawks have outscored foes 34-0, haven’t given up a hit before the fifth inning in any of the games and have yielded only four hits overall. An opposing runner has yet to reach third base. Going back to summer season, the Redhawks haven’t permitted a run in 29 innings.
The relative lethargy of the situation didn’t diminish the fact that Edison Rodriquez came to ball. He surrendered one hit (a fifth-inning double down the first-base line) and struck out nine in a complete-game performance. He also went 2-for-3 with two RBI, which included a triple in which he scored after the ball was dropped by the cutoff man.
Adam Bies and Derek Johnson each hit two-run doubles to the opposite field to get the Redhawks going the first inning, and Jeff Spira’s two-run single capped the seven-run frame. Tommy Cowan and Pat Davis also drove in two apiece for the Redhawks (20-8 overall, 3-0 fall).
The Redhawks will play two games in each of the next two weekends in hopes of returning to the fall title game for the sixth straight season.
Notes: Redhawks pitcher Kenneth Weber joined the Browns in Phoenix last week and pitched eight innings, allowing two runs while striking out five against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Weber departed tied 2-2 in a game the Browns eventually lost 3-2. . . . With Sam Makovsky (who got married Saturday) gone, Weber recovering from his Thursday start and Rodriquez pitching, regular first baseman Cowan started at second.
Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000 00 – 0 1 3
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 754 1X– 17 15 1
Redhawks hitting – Smith lf-cf 1-2-0-0, Rodriquez p 2-2-2-2, Jark cf 2-3-1-0, Bies rf 2-3-2-2, Cowan 2b 3-1-2-2, Johnson 3b 2-2-2-2, Davis c 3-2-2-2, Weber 1b 3-0-1-1, Willis rf-lf 1-2-0-1, Spira 1b 3-0-1-2, Qiu ss 3-0-2-0. Totals 26-17-15-14.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Rodriquez (W 2-0) 5-1-0-0-3-9
E – Qiu. 2B – Johnson (9), Bies (7), Jark (7), Cowan (3). 3B – Rodriquez (1). SB – Smith (7), Rodriquez (3). HBP – Willis, Rodriquez, Johnson, Bies.
REDHAWKS NEARLY PERFECT IN BLASTING REDBIRDS
Hawks extend scoreless stretch to 24 innings
ENGLEWOOD – It seems like almost every time the Redhawks play a Fall League game, a potential no-hitter or perfect game is part of the equation.
Such was the case again Sunday, when the Redhawks came within two outs of a combined perfect game in a 16-0 whitewash of Redbirds. As it was, the Hawks settled for a one-hitter in a six-inning game at Brent Mayne Field.
More significantly, the Redhawks (19-8) extended their shutout streak to 24 innings, a stretch that began in the final two innings against the Cubs in the summer semifinals.
Kenneth Weber retired the first six hitters in a quick tune-up start for his Arizona trip, and Paul Willis retired the first 10 batters in relief. After a flare landed over shortstop Tommy Cowan, who almost got there, Willis picked off a pinch runner and got the final batter to ground out to third baseman Derek Johnson to end it.
The performance came on the heels of Jeff Spira’s shutout in the fall opener, in which the right-hander carried a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings and settled for a two-hitter.
The Redhawks finally got some offense rolling after scoring a combined three runs in the previous two games. Adam Bies crushed a two-run double in the first – it was only the fifth time the Redhawks scored in the first this season – and he finished 3-for-3 with four RBI. His 41 driven in puts him within eight of the team mark set by Chris Dobson in 2009.
Johnson went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and numerous players recorded multiple hits. That included leadoff man Dylan Smith and No. 2 hitter Edison Rodriquez, who each went 2-for-2 and reached in all four of their plate appearances. The tandem combined for five runs and three RBI. Casey Hill also went 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Danny Qiu added a double off the left-field wall.
The Redhawks get back to action next week against the Athletics (9 a.m., Sunday, Brent Mayne), who shellacked the Raptors 15-2 on Sunday. Rodriquez will make his first Fall League start in that one.
Notes: The Redhawks are on pace for their lowest homer total in team annals. Even those Bies has hit eight, the team has managed only 12. . . . The scoreless stretch has dropped the Redhawks’ team ERA to 3.35.
Redbirds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000 000 – 0 1 4
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301 84X– 16 15 0
Redhawks hitting – Smith cf 2-3-2-1, Rodriquez 2b 2-2-2-2, Cowan 1b-3b-ss 3-2-0-0, Bies rf 3-3-3-4, Johnson 3b-1b 4-2-3-1, Weber p-1b 3-1-1-1, Davis c 3-0-1-2, Willis dh-p 3-0-0-1, Qiu ss 2-1-1-0, Baum dh-rf 2-1-0-0, Hill lf 3-1-2-0. Totals 30-16-15-12
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber 2-0-0-0-0-1, Willis (W 3-2) 4-1-0-0-0-4.
E – None. 2B – Johnson (8), Bies (6), Hill (3), Qiu (3). SB – Smith (6), Cowan (4), Rodriquez (2). HBP – Rodriquez.
SPIRA CARRIES REDHAWKS IN FALL OPENER
Righty strikes out seven in two-hitter to bail out punchless offense
ENGLEWOOD – While Dylan Smith was unleashing his left-handed wizardry throughout the summer postseason, some might have forgotten that the Redhawks still had a high-level righty in reserve.
Jeff Spira, winner of the fall championship game last season and team’s winningest pitcher over the past few years, has been eager to be deployed. He got that chance Sunday in the fall opener and didn’t disappoint – although his offense did – in a 1-0 win against the Warriors at Brent Mayne Field.
Spira pitched no-hit ball for 5 2/3 innings before allowing a broken-bat double down the right-field line. He permitted an infield single in the seventh before locking down his fourth win over the season. The skyscraping righty whiffed seven and walked only one.
While Spira was on point, the Redhawks offense certainly didn’t fit that description. The Hawks (18-8) got their run in the third, when Edison Rodriguez doubled off the wall in left-center and Kyle Jark drove him in with a single. Other than that it was mostly crickets.
Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with two doubles and Paul Willis 2-for-3 with one double, but otherwise it was Jark’s single and another from Adam Bies.
“It’s frustrating when we do this,” infielder Kenneth Weber said. “We sleepwalk along and think that we’re going to turn it on late, but it doesn’t always happen.”
On an error-free day for each team, the setting was somewhat bizarre for the Redhawks’ first ever 1-0 game. It rained while sunny in pre-game and numerous storm cells surrounded the field. The Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies, playing about 10 miles north, each went into weather delays but the Redhawks never had to.
They’ll get back to action Sunday at Englewood against the Hitmen (2:30 p.m.).
Notes: The Redhawks played without several key regulars, including Tommy Cowan, Chuck Gillem and Derek Johnson, who were at a wedding. Smith also wasn’t among the fray. . . . Willis stole third, his first steal of the season and first that wasn’t part of a double-steal in four seasons. The swipe puts him within five of team leader Weber.
Warriors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 0 – 0 2 0
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 001 000 X – 1 6 0
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf 2-0-0-0, Rodriquez 2b 3-1-2-0, Jark cf 3-0-1-1, Bies 1b 3-0-1-0, Davis c 3-0-0-0, Weber 3b-ss 3-0-0-0, Willis rf 3-0-2-0, Spira p 2-0-0-0, Qiu ss-3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 24-1-6-1.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 4-1) 7-2-0-0-1-7.
E – None. 2B – Rodriquez 2 (2), Willis (2). SB – Willis (1).
TRIPLE-A CHAMPS: REDHAWKS CLAIM THE CROWN
Smith and Hill key dramatic shutout win over four-time champion Browns
LAKEWOOD – When approached about starting arguably the most important game in the history of the Redhawks, Dylan Smith was fairly concise about the prospects.
“I feel like I’ll give us a chance,” he said.
The left-hander did a lot more than that. In a historic Sunday at All-Star Park, Smith pitched into the ninth inning of the Redhawks’ 2-0 Triple-A title-clinching win over the perennial-power Denver Browns.
The Redhawks, who broke open a scoreless game in the seventh on a two-run single by Casey Hill, now can firmly be considered among Colorado’s elite after corralling their first championship in NABA’s highest division. That’s despite a few dicey moments in the ninth.
“Defeating the Browns for the crowning achievement of Triple-A champs is only fitting, because they have been our biggest adversaries since we joined the division,” said Kenneth Weber, who earned the save in dramatic fashion. “But more important to me is that I’m proud to have won with the group we have.”
After Smith’s magnificent performance – he yielded five singles and struck out seven in 8 1/3 innings against the Browns’ top-flight lineup – Weber induced a game-ending double play against cleanup hitter Matt Jerebker. One of NABA’s best ever players, Jerebker hit a sharp groundball that third baseman Derek Johnson speared moving to his left. He threw to second baseman Sam Makovsky, who stepped on the bag and relayed to first baseman Tommy Cowan for the clinching out.
“I didn’t realize it was hit that hard until I saw the replay,” Johnson said.
The ending proved to be a reprieve for Makovsky, who committed the game’s lone error on the previous play. The Browns’ Jason Fobes hit what appeared to be a game-ending double-play ball, but the ball five-holed Makovsky and the Browns instead had runners on first and third with one out. That chased Smith, who was making only his fifth career start for the squad. On Weber’s third pitch, the Redhawks got another chance for two and made it happen.
“I would have had to disappear if we ended up losing,” deadpanned Makovsky, who joined the squad in 2012. “It would have been my last game as a Redhawk.”
The Browns pitching was of the high-level variety as well. Starter Nate Barnes didn’t allow a hit until Paul Willis’ single to center in the fifth. The big lefty carried a shutout into the seventh, when Hill’s two-out drive to shallow center narrowly avoided the grasp of diving center fielder Chris Dennis. That scored Chuck Gillem, who had walked, and Weber, who had beaten out a bunt single, with what turned out to be the only runs.
“After getting behind in the count 1-2, I was just looking to for something to put in play,” Hill said. “The pitcher got me in on the hands a little bit, but I was able to muscle the ball over the shortstop and in front of the center fielder. Happy I was able to produce for the team and Dylan, who was pitching a gem.”
The Redhawks had won three previous summer titles, but were 0-1 in Triple-A championship games since joining the division in 2014. The Browns defeated the Redhawks 15-9 in the 2015 final despite a first-inning grand slam by Danny Qiu. This one was the antithesis of 2015, as the teams combined for only one extra-base hit, a double by the Browns’ Trent Kutler in the third.
Smith (5-0) helped keep the bats silent while primarily using only two pitches – a fastball and a slider that possessed devastating downward motion. Smith defeated the Browns for the second time this season, as he also went seven innings in a 9-4 regular-season win. The Browns abundance of talented left-handed hitters struggled with the southpaw, as lefties were 0-for-9 in the contest.
The win capped a remarkable postseason in which the Redhawks narrowly escaped the Cubs in the semifinals. Hill factored prominently in that one as well, having produced a game-tying double with two outs in the ninth. That set the stage for Adam Bies’ two-run homer in the 10th, which propelled the Hawks to a 7-5 win. Smith struck out 11 in that game before Weber earned the win with a dominant relief outing.
A title of any sort appeared unlikely considering the way the Redhawks began the season. Although they were decent in Las Vegas over Memorial Day, they started 5-5 overall. They endured injuries to team leaders Cowan (facial fractures) and Gillem (foul ball off throwing hand) and never really caught a sustained groove until July. But if anything, the season had character and tested the Redhawks’ resolve.
Then they got hot at the right time.
“It means the world, but it means even more to do it with these guys,” Cowan said. “It was a really tough year with injuries, but we persevered and played for each other. There’s a lot to say about playing as a team and I’m proud to be a teammate of everyone on the Redhawks.”
Notes: The Redhawks will dive directly into Fall League play on Sunday against the Warriors (2:30 p.m., Brent Mayne Field). The Hawks will aim to repeat the feat of 2013, when they captured summer and fall championships. The Hawks also won fall last season. . . . Redhawks right-hander Jeff Spira (12-3 in two seasons with the team) was available but didn’t pitch due to Smith’s lengthy outing. Spira remains prominently in the Redhawks plans, but the team went with the hot arm for the postseason. . . . Pat Davis served as the Redhawks’ primary catcher down the stretch, embracing the role when Gillem was sidelined. . . . Teammates indicated that Willis, who has been with Redhawks since 2002, might have been a little misty-eyed during the celebration. That assertion hasn’t been confirmed, however. . . . Center fielder Kyle Jark took partial credit for the Redhawks’ rally because he was coaching third at the time. “Sixty percent of the time it works every time,” Jark said of his base-coaching success. . . . Lost in the madness is that Weber has put together a nine-game hitting streak with six multi-hit efforts. His .395 average leads the team, and with his pitching numbers factored in (4-1, 2.89 ERA), he is making a case for team MVP. Added Weber of the win: “Whether it’s the teammates I’ve befriended over the past few years or guys I’ve been playing with since I was a kid, I’m proud of this group and this is easily my favorite team to have ever played on.”
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 200 – 2 6 2
Browns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
Redhawks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Smith p 2-0-0-0, Jark cf 4-0-0-0, Cowan 1b 4-0-1-0, Bies dh 3-0-1-0, Johnson 3b 3-0-0-0, Davis c 3-0-0-0, Gillem rf 3-1-0-0, Weber ss-2b-p 4-1-2-0, Willis dh 3-0-1-0, Qiu ss 0-0-0-0, Hill lf 3-0-1-2, Makovsky 0-0-0-0. Totals 32-2-6-2.
Browns hitting – Bruns ss 4-0-0-0, Kutler 2b 4-0-2-0, Fobes dh 3-0-0-0, Jerebker 3b 4-0-0-0, Huggins dh-1b 3-0-0-0, Neumann c 3-0-1-0, Gunnell 1b 3-0-1-0, Gray dh 2-0-0-0, Dennis cf 1-0-0-0, Barker rf 2-0-0-0, Marsden lf 3-0-1-0. Totals 32-0-5-0.
Redhawks pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Smith (W 5-0) 8.1-5-0-0-2-7, Weber (Sv 2) 0.2-0-0-0-0-0.
Browns pitching – Barnes (L 6-2) 7-4-2-2-7-6, Busto 2-2-0-0-1-3.
E – Makovsky. 2B – Kutler (3). SB – Weber 2 (6), Marsden (2).
BIES' BLAST SENDS HAWKS TO TITLE GAME
Redhawks edge Cubs in epic extra-inning affair
ARVADA – Not too often in NABA is a ball hit so hard that an outfielder simply stands in his tracks, a courtesy jog not even a consideration. But hitters with the raw power of Adam Bies don’t come around too often, either.
The burly slugger, in his first full year with the squad, has already put together a handful of signature moments. None were as gigantic as his two-run blast in the top of the 10th inning Sunday that propelled the Redhawks to a 7-5 win against the Cubs in the Triple-A semifinals.
“I finally found the right bat,” said Bies, who was on his third piece of lumber of the day after breaking the first two in earlier at-bats.
The Cubs left fielder stood stationary as the ball sailed far beyond the wall at Long Lake Ranch Park, capping a wild and well-played penultimate round of the summer season. The way Kenneth Weber was throwing in relief, you got the feeling that Bies’ homer would stand up as the winner.
And that feeling was correct.
After striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extras, Weber struck out two more and worked around a one-out single to send the Redhawks to the championship game against the Browns (12:30 p.m., Sept. 10, All Star Park). The Redhawks have won three summer titles, but none since joining Triple-A in 2014. They fell to the Browns in the 2015 final.
As dramatic as it ended, it almost never got to that point. The Hawks (16-8 overall, 14-5 Triple-A) were down to their final out in the top of the ninth when rollover hitter Casey Hill mashed an opposite-field double to score Weber from first and tie it 5-5.
“I thought about taking a pitch,” said Hill, who also threw a runner out at home to end the eighth and keep the deficit at 5-4. “But then I said (expletive) that.”
The Redhawks were seemingly in comeback mode all day. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the eighth, Dylan Smith greeted reliever and former Northern Colorado teammate Chris Carlberg with a bunt single and scored on a double by Kyle Jark to tie it. Jark (2-for-4, three RBI) also had a two-run single in the third that put the Hawks up 2-1.
Smith lasted 7 2/3 innings in his third start of the season and struck out 11 while permitting only three earned runs. Cubs starter Chris Hammer, another UNC product, was equally effective and fanned eight Redhawks in his seven innings of work.
With one out in the top of the 10th, Tommy Cowan reached base when his fly ball was lost into the sun. Bies then lost one in the weeds to give the Redhawks their 11th win in their past 13 league outings.
“Ever since we’ve gotten back to playing for each other we’ve been pretty good,” Cowan said.
Notes: Several Redhawks hitters in the lower-middle portion of the lineup endured rough days. The Nos. 5, 6 and 7 hitters all went 0-for-5 and No. 9 hitter Paul Willis struck out three times. . . . Jark committed his first error of the season in the third when his throw from center field soared over third base, allowing a runner to move up. The Redhawks committed both their errors in that inning. . . . The Redhawks had a season-high 14 players in attendance. . . . Weber hit his 10th double of the season in the third, bringing him to within striking distance of Derek Johnson’s record 16 last season.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 002 001 011 2 – 7 10 2
Cubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 100 010 0 – 5 11 2
Redhawks hitting – Smith p 4-1-1-0, Jark cf 5-0-2-3, Cowan 1b 4-2-2-0, Bies dh 5-1-2-3, Johnson 3b 5-0-0-0, Davis c 5-0-0-0, Gillem rf 5-0-0-0, Weber ss-2b-p 3-2-2-0, Willis dh 3-0-0-0, Qiu ss 1-0-0-0, Hill lf 3-1-1-1. Totals 43-7-10-7.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Smith 7.2-9-5-3-2-11, Weber (W 4-1) 2.1-2-0-0-0-5.
E – Qiu, Jark. 2B – Weber (10), Jark (6), Hill (2). SB – Cowan (3), Jark (2).
REDHAWKS TO HAVE FULL ARSENAL THIS TIME
Fully stocked playoff roster a refreshing concept
ARVADA – The Redhawks have the opposite problem of last season’s Triple-A semifinals, and that’s a good thing.
When the Redhawks took on the Bears in the semis last season, three key starters were out of town, the Hawks had only nine healthy players and fell 7-2. A 15-3 season went down the drain just like that.
As they face the Cubs in the same round Sunday (12:30, Long Lake Ranch Park), the Redhawks will have an overabundance of players this time. Everyone is projected to be in attendance, including catcher/outfielder Chuck Gillem, who pronounced himself fit for the win-or-go-home contest.
The Redhawks will have their entire pitching staff on hand, which creates some decision-making in itself. And with constricted lineups for the playoffs, a handful of regulars will find themselves on the bench. Not ideal, but it beats having a skeleton crew for the postseason.
“If we have 10 guys hitting over .300, we can hit 10 guys,” catcher Pat Davis said. “And this is the type of game where if someone is struggling, we have the personnel to switch things up pretty quickly.”
The Redhawks (15-8, 13-5) completed the regular season with a 10-9 non-league loss to the Cutthroats on Sunday. The Hawks led 8-3 after six, but endured two disaster innings in the latter going to fall in a game that had no true ramifications.
Just that the Redhawks got to take live at-bats figures to be beneficial heading into the matchup with the Cubs (13-5). The Hawks dropped two of three to the Cubs in the regular season – including a 4-0 no-hit loss – but came back to defeat the Cubs 11-8 in the latest meeting on Aug. 13.
The winner will take on the Royals-Browns winner in the championship game at All-Star Park, a Coors Field replica (12:30, Sept. 10).
Notes: To the Redhawks’ surprise, Fall League will start early this year on Sept. 17. With three players already set to be out of town for a wedding, the Redhawks have requested an early game to accommodate a handful of others that are going to the Broncos-Cowboys game. . . . Adam Bies leads the Redhawks in hits (30), runs (21), homers (seven) and RBI (34) entering the postseason. . . . Although Dylan Smith’s overall pitching numbers are fairly pedestrian, he’s been lights out in his two starts. He’s 2-0 and given up three earned runs over 12 innings.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305 000 001 – 9 13 4
Cutthroats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 000 403 – 10 10 1
Redhawks hitting – Smith rf-cf-lf-p 4-1-2-0, Hill lf-cf 4-2-2-1, Jark cf 4-1-1-1, Bies dh-3b 3-2-2-2, Cowan 1b 4-0-0-0, Davis c 4-1-2-3, Weber 3b-2b 3-1-2-1, Willis rf 1-0-0-0, Baum rf-c 4-0-1-1, Qiu ss 3-1-0-0, Makovsky 2b-p 4-0-1-0. Totals 38-9-13-9.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis 6-5-3-3-2-3, Smith 1-2-4-1-2-1, Makovsky (L 0-1) 1.2-3-3-1-1-1.
E – Qiu 2, Makovsky, Willis. 2B – Bies (5), Davis (3), Smith (2). SB – Weber 2 (4), Cowan 2 (2), Hill (3). HBP – Weber, Jark.
REDHAWKS, WEBER RALLY PAST CUBS
Weber earns the win despite shaky first two innings, Hawks split weekend
ENGLEWOOD – Twice this season, Kenneth Weber watched sure wins turn into no-decisions. On Sunday, things evened out a bit.
After a disastrous opening two innings against the Cubs, a loss seemed imminent. But the Redhawks rallied – including a key hit by Weber himself – and the Redhawks finally got past a Cubs team that had been a thorn in their side this season. With the 11-8 win, Weber got one of those elusive W’s back.
“The reason I wasn’t mad about the first two is because we ended up winning both,” Weber said.
The Cubs jumped to a 7-1 lead after two and appeared poised to sweep the Redhawks in the three regular-season meetings. But Weber followed with four scoreless innings and the Hawks staged perhaps their finest rally of the season in the bottom of the sixth. It was a seven-run burst that transformed a 7-2 deficit to a 9-7 lead, and Weber was on the plus side after his six innings of work.
Initially, Paul Willis appeared set for a mop-up relief appearance. But the rally turned it into a high-leverage situation, and Willis was able to close it out with a three-inning save. Featuring his sharpest slider of the season, he fanned the first three hitters and five overall while yielding one run.
“That was Paul circa 2013,” shortstop Tommy Cowan said.
The Redhawks (14-7, 12-5) had absorbed 12-2 and 4-0 losses to the Cubs – the latter a no-hitter – and the blue-clad group was the only Triple-A team the Hawks hadn’t beaten this season. But the rally changed all that.
The top of the Redhawks order loaded the bases to begin the inning, and a fielder’s choice by Adam Bies made it 7-3. Pat Davis’ single made it 7-4. Casey Hill’s sac fly made it 7-5 and all of a sudden the Redhawks were back in the game.
Then on successive pitches, Weber clobbered a two-run double to tie it and Willis drove him in with the go-ahead run. On the next pitch, Justin Baum added another RBI single and the Hawks were in front 9-7. It was a three-pitch sequence that produced four runs.
In the eighth, back-to-back doubles by Derek Johnson and Adam Bies (and two wild pitches) made it 11-7. Bies (3-for-4, three RBI) finished a homer shy of the cycle and Dylan Smith went 2-for-3 with three runs scored from the leadoff spot.
The win was huge not only from the standpoint of finally defeating a Cubs team the Redhawks will face in the first round of the postseason, but also in erasing the sour taste of a 7-2 loss to the Hops on Saturday.
In that one, Johnson’s two-run double put the Redhawks ahead 2-1 in the seventh. But a disastrous bottom of the seventh and a rare bout of inter-team turmoil spoiled a solid complete-game effort by pitcher Kyle Jark.
The Redhawks were missing six regulars and eight players overall, and it finally caught up to them. But after responding well on Sunday, the sting subsided substantially.
Notes: The Redhawks finish the regular season on Sunday against the Royals (9 a.m., Denver North). . . . While the Redhawks will face the Cubs in the first round – which also qualifies as the semifinals – home team is still in the balance. The teams are tied for second place in Triple-A but the Cubs won the season series. . . . Eleven Redhawks have recorded more than 10 hits and six of those have registered more than 20. Eight players have double-digit RBI. . . . On the theme of balance, four Redhawks have pitched 30 or more innings and five have reached 20 innings. . . . The Redhawks have not scored in the first inning in 10 consecutive games and have done so only three times this season.
Sunday at Englewood
Cubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430 000 010 – 8 13 1
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 010 300 011 – 11 14 1
Redhawks hitting – Smith cf 3-3-2-0, Jark 1b 3-1-0-0, Johnson 3b 3-2-1-0, Bies rf 4-2-3-3, Cowan ss 4-0-1-0, Davis c 4-1-1-1, Hill lf 3-0-1-1, Weber p 4-1-1-2, Willis dh-p 4-1-1-1, Makovsky 2b 4-0-2-0, Baum ph-rf 3-0-1-1 Totals 39-11-14-9.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber (W 3-1) 6-9-7-7-1-2, Willis (Sv 1) 3-4-1-1-0-5.
E – Cowan. 2B – Weber (9), Johnson (7), Bies (4), Cowan (2). 3B – Bies (2). SF – Hill. HBP – Smith, Jark.
Saturday at Englewood
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 010 300 011 – 7 9 2
Hops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 20X – 2 7 3
Redhawks hitting – Hill cf 5-1-2-0, Weber ss 4-1-1-0, Johnson 3b 5-0-2-2, Bies 1b 4-0-0-0, Davis 2b-c 3-0-0-0, Jark p 2-0-1-0, Rule c-2b 4-0-1-0, Ivy rf 4-0-1-0, Gillem lf 4-0-0-0. Totals 35-2-7-2.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Jark (L 1-3) 8-9-7-4-2-4.
E – Rule 2, Bies. 2B – Weber (8), Johnson (6), Ivy (1). SB – Hill (2). HBP – Weber, Jark.
WEEKEND WINS PUSH HAWKS' STREAK TO FIVE
Redhawks pitchers allow a mere five hits, one earned run in two games
DENVER – In a Las Vegas elevator in late May, a casino guest noticed a handful of players returning from a game and asked: “Who are the Redhawks?”
Responded pitcher Jeff Spira: “An average baseball team.”
At the time, who could argue with him? The Redhawks were playing .500 ball and maintained that designation for quite awhile, as they started the season 5-5. But fast-forward several weeks, and the Redhawks are back to their vintage selves.
The red-clad group defeated the Predators 11-1 on Saturday and the Hops 6-1 on Sunday, which gives them their first extended winning streak of the season at five games. They’ve won eight of nine overall.
Redhawks pitchers were on point throughout the weekend, allowing only five hits and one earned run in the two games. And since an ugly hit-free loss to the Cubs a few weeks back, the Redhawks (13-6, 11-4) have recorded 13, 14, 14, 13 and 13 hits en route to 44 runs over the past five games.
Redhawks 11, Predators 1 (Saturday at Bear Creek)
After a shaky first, Spira settled down for a brilliant outing: two hits, one unearned run over seven innings. The angular right-hander struck out five and took advantage of a brilliant defensive game from second baseman Sam Makovksy, who flawlessly fielded all 10 groundballs hit his way and was part of two double plays.
With a limited Saturday roster, Adam Bies made his first start at catcher and quickly found a rhythm with Spira. Bies (2-for-4, double, three RBI) had another solid offensive performance, but it was third baseman Derek Johnson who stole the show at the plate.
Johnson (4-for-4, two doubles, five RBI) blasted all of his hits to right-center, and there wasn’t a cheap one amongst the fray.
Of note, Matt Pennel (2-for-4) snapped an 0-for-28 skid at Bear Creek, his former high school field where he couldn’t seem to find a hit. Chuck Gillem, meanwhile, returned from a hand injury and contributed a bunt single, two walks and two runs scored. Gillem isn’t quite ready to catch, so he played left field.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 003 004 4 – 11 13 1
Predators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 000 0 – 1 2 1
Redhawks hitting – Hill cf 5-0-1-0, Weber ss 5-3-3-2, Bies c 4-2-2-3, Johnson 3b 4-1-4-5, Willis rf 5-0-1-1, Pennel 1b 4-1-2-0, Spira p 4-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 1-2-0-0, Gillem lf 2-2-1-0. Totals 42-9-14-8.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 3-1) 7-2-1-0-2-5.
E – Weber. 2B – Johnson 2 (5), Bies (3).
Redhawks 6, Hops 1 (Sunday at Evie Campus)
The top of the Redhawks lineup admittedly has struggled. The Hawks haven’t scored in the first inning in seven games and have done so only three times this season.
The bottom of the order, though, has been surprisingly productive. That trend continued in this one, as Kenneth Weber, Paul Willis and Makovsky – the Nos. 7, 8 and 9 hitters – each drove in runs in the fourth to ignite the Hawks’ key rally.
Willis (3-for-5, double, RBI) has gone 10-for-22 during the Hawks’ five-game streak, and Weber, who also drove in a run on a double in the ninth, ranks second on the team with 16 RBI.
The Redhawks didn’t get much against Hops starter Edison Rodriquez, who joined the Hawks in Vegas, but the production was plenty behind the dual pitching efforts of Dylan Smith and Weber. Smith (4-0) allowed two hits and one run over five innings, and Weber closed with four innings of one-hit relief. Of note, Weber (2.05 ERA) has allowed only one run in 16 innings over his last four outings.
The teams each scored 10 fewer runs than last time, when the Redhawks defeated the Hops 16-11. Bies drove in nine in that game, but Rodriquez held the slugger at bay in this one. Pat Davis added two hits and an RBI and Tommy Cowan two hits and two runs for the Hawks.
Notes: The Redhawks again play two games next weekend, starting with the Hops on Saturday (4 p.m., Englewood). They’re back at Englewood on Sunday (12:30) for a matchup with the Cubs that could determine second place. . . . Kyle Jark, who was out of town and missed his first two games of the season, will return and start on the mound Saturday. . . . As the baseball gods would have it, Makovsky received zero ground balls on Sunday after stealing the show Saturday. . . . Despite having only nine available players for each, the Redhawks committed only one error in the two games. . . . Leadoff hitter Casey Hill (.308 average) has done well setting the table, but the Redhawks haven’t driven him in during the past seven games. He scored six runs in three games prior.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 010 300 011 – 6 13 0
Hops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 100 000 – 1 3 4
Redhawks hitting – Hill cf-lf 5-0-2-0, Smith p-cf 5-0-1-0, Bies lf-1b 5-0-0-0, Johnson 3b 5-1-1-0, Cowan 1b-ss 3-2-2-0, Davis c 5-1-2-1, Weber ss-p 4-0-1-2, Willis rf 5-1-3-1, Makovsky 2b 5-1-1-1. Totals 42-6-13-5.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Smith (W 4-0) 5-2-1-1-4-5, Weber (Sv 1) 4-1-0-0-2-2.
E – None. 2B – Weber (7), Willis (1). SF – Weber. HBP – Cowan.
QIU AND BIES POWER HAWKS TO WIN
Hawks stay hot as bottom of order continues to flourish
LAFAYETTE – After their finest weekend of the season, the Redhawks were determined to keep things rolling against a Nuts squad they had admittedly struggled with in the first two meetings.
The Hawks made their third far-north trip to the Alexander Dawson diamond on Sunday and took care of business 13-3. In winning the season series against the Nuts, the Hawks (11-6, 9-4) won for the sixth time in seven games overall.
The result, fueled by homers from Adam Bies and Danny Qiu, ensured the Redhawks can do no worse than tie for the final Triple-A playoff spot.
One win in their final five regular-season games will officially clinch a spot, although the Hawks have designs on continuing to climb the ladder.
Bies' homer was his seventh of the season, which puts him within three of the team mark. With fall ball to come, the Redhawks have at least 12 more games to play.
It took the Redhawks three games to take advantage of the short left-field porch at Dawson, but they conquered it twice this time. Bies’ skyscraping fly ball cleared it by plenty in the fifth, and Qiu lined a two-run homer over the elevated fence in the sixth.
Qiu had one of his finest games of the past several seasons, finishing 3-for-5 with four RBI. His two-run single down the third-base line in the fourth appeared to be foul, but it was ruled fair and the Hawks took advantage.
Qiu’s performance was part of another strong one for the bottom of the order. Nos. 6-through-9 hitters Kenneth Weber, Paul Willis, Qiu and Matt Pennel combined to go 8-for-16 with eight runs scored and nine RBI.
Willis (2-2) pitched five innings to earn the win, allowing only a solo homer in the second. Jeff Spira pitched the final four to earn the lengthy-inning save, permitting two unearned runs.
Almost everything was in play in this one, as the pair of Hawks pitchers walked only one and struck out only two. But they recorded 15 groundball outs, and the Hawks nearly turned their first-ever triple play in the second.
With runners on first and second, a ground ball to third baseman Derek Johnson brought him into the path of the lead runner. He tagged that runner and flipped to second baseman Sam Makovsky for the second out. Makovsky’s relay to first was not in time to nab the third runner.
It mattered little, as the following batter lined one back to the mound for third out.
Notes: Spira will start Saturday’s make-up game against the Predators (12;30 p.m., Bear Creek). . . . It took 63 plate appearances, but Bies finally drew his first walk of the season. “At least it was with the bases loaded so I got an RBI,” he said. The Redhawks’ final make-up game is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12 (4 p.m., Englewood). . . . Willis has gone 6-for-12 over the past three games to elevate his average from .200 to .297. . . . Qiu has gone 5-for-11 in the same span to jump from .214 to .282. . . . The top three batters in the order did not score a run and drove in one, on a bases-loaded walk by Kyle Jark. . . . The Hawks played without first baseman Tommy Cowan, catcher Chuck Gillem and outfielder Dylan Smith. . . . Bies, Weber, Jark and Pat Davis represented the Redhawks in the All-Star Game on Saturday in Golden. The Hawks' team, managed by the Cubs, fell 6-5.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 030 314 101 – 13 13 3
Nuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 010 001 100 – 3 8 4
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf 4-0-1-0, Davis c 5-0-1-0, Jark cf 4-0-0-1, Bies dh-1b 4-2-2-2, Johnson 3b 3-1-0-0, Weber ss 3-4-2-1, Willis p 4-3-2-1, Qiu rf 5-1-3-4, Pennel dh-1b 4-0-1-3, Makovsky 2b 3-1-0-0, Spira 1b-p 3-1-1-0. Totals 42-9-14-8.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis (W 2-2) 5-5-1-1-0-1, Spira (Sv 1) 4-3-2-0-1-1.
E – Spira, Weber, Johnson. HR – Bies (7), Qiu (1). SB – Qiu (1). CS – Hill. SF – Pennel.
REDHAWKS EARN KEY WEEKEND SWEEP
Signature weekend includes wins vs. Royals and Browns
The Redhawks were at a crossroads over the weekend.
Facing two playoff-bound teams with a light roster, the potential for disaster was there. A pair of losses would have dropped the Redhawks to .500 and beckoned whispers of an off year.
But the Hawks aren’t quite ready to chalk up 2017 as an average season. In their grittiest weekend of the season, they nipped the Royals 5-4 on Saturday at Alameda and came back Sunday morning to defeat the first-place Browns and ace Nate Barnes 9-4 at Englewood.
“Great (expletive) weekend,” first baseman Tommy Cowan said.
It was a little unconventional, as the Redhawks had to mix and match on Saturday and sent Dylan Smith to the mound for his first start of the season on Sunday. But each situation worked out splendidly in an error-free weekend, as the Hawks improved to 10-6 overall and 8-4 in Triple-A.
Here’s a look at each game:
Redhawks 5, Royals 4 (Saturday at Alameda)
The players who weren’t in attendance read like a beastly lineup: Smith, Chuck Gillem, Kenneth Weber, Adam Bies, Justin Baum and Jeff Spira. But once the Redhawks finally ended their scoreless streak, things proceeded just fine.
Ultimately, Tommy Cowan’s infield single produced the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, and reliever Kyle Jark held the Royals scoreless in the bottom. The Royals had the tying run on second with one out, but Danny Qiu speared a sharp line drive in left field, and he doubled off the runner to end it. With the limited personnel, Qiu, customarily the shortstop, made his first start in the outfield.
The ninth began with a single by Matt Pennel – making only his second appearance of the season – and was followed by a double by Sam Makovsky. With one out, Cowan’s single chased home the run.
After being no-hit by the Cubs the previous week, the Hawks were kept off the board for the first five innings. But trailing 2-0 in the sixth, Qiu got the Hawks on the board with an RBI double. Casey Hill’s two-run triple put the Hawks in front 3-2 in the seventh.
Jark earned the win in relief of Paul Willis, who threw 7 2/3 and departed with scored tied 4-4. The Redhawks added catcher John Rule to the roster for the contest – he previously played with third baseman Derek Johnson on the 18AA Marlins – and Rule was key. He caught a solid game and produced an RBI single.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 001 211 – 5 13 0
Royals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 100 020 – 4 10 1
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf-cf 5-0-1-2, Cowan 1b 4-1-2-0, Jark cf-p 5-0-2-0, Johnson 3b 4-0-2-0, Qiu rf-lf 3-1-1-1, Rule c 4-0-1-1, Willis p-rf 4-1-2-0, Pennel 1b 4-1-1-0, Makovsky 2b 4-1-1-0. Totals 37-5-13-4.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis 7.2-9-4-4-4-4, Jark (W 1-2) 1.1-1-0-0-1-0.
E – None. 2B – Qiu (2), Makovsky (1). 3B – Hill (1). CS – Johnson.
Redhawks 9, Browns 4 (Sunday at Englewood)
Smith was fantastic in his first start, holding the hard-hitting Browns to five hits over seven innings. He improved to 3-0 by allowing a mere two earned runs while registering five strikeouts.
Adam Bies’ sixth homer of the season – an absolute blast to right-center in the seventh – was the loudest hit, but it was the bottom of the Redhawks order that got things going against the left-handed Barnes.
Weber, Willis and Qiu had successive RBI singles in the second to put the Hawks up 3-0, and the trio finished 6-for-11 with four knocked in (8-for-15 with five RBI with No. 6 hitter Pat Davis added in). Weber also closed with two scoreless innings.
Weber and Smith were honored by the Browns broadcast team with Boxcar Coffee for being the co-stars of the game.
Notes: The Redhawks’ next make-up game will be Saturday, Aug. 5 against the Predators (12:30 p.m., Bear Creek). . . . Bies, Weber and Jark will play in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Saturday morning at Golden. The Hawks will add a fourth All-Star this week. . . . After being no-hit last weekend, the Hawks came back to go 27-for-79 against high-level pitching this week. . . . Jark went 4-for-9, Willis 4-for-8 and Cowan 3-for-7 over the weekend to lead the attack. . . . While the Redhawks did not officially commit an error in the two games, Smith’s first two runs allowed were unearned due to a passed ball on a third strike. . . . Although not officially scheduled, the Redhawks likely will have their final make-up game against the Hops on Aug. 12.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 030 004 200 – 9 14 0
Browns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .002 002 000 – 4 6 4
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf-rf 5-0-0-0, Cowan 1b 3-1-1-0, Jark cf 4-2-2-0, Bies dh 4-1-2-3, Johnson 3b 4-2-1-0, Davis c 4-1-2-1, Smith p-lf 4-1-0-0, Weber ss-p 4-1-3-1, Willis dh 4-0-2-2, Qiu rf-ss 3-0-1-1, Makovsky 2b 3-0-0-0. Totals 42-9-14-8.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Smith (W 3-0) 7-5-4-2-2-5, Weber 2-1-0-0-0-1.
E – None. 2B – Weber (6). HR – Bies (6). SB – Smith (5).
REDHAWKS HELD HITLESS IN LOSS TO CUBS
Bats go silent as Hawks fall to fourth and final playoff spot
ENGLEWOOD – The Redhawks finally appeared to be making headway after an uneven start to the season. Then came Sunday.
For the first time in team history, the Redhawks were held without a hit in a 4-0 loss to the Cubs at Englewood. Redhawks batters went 0-for-29 (27 outs, two reached on error) in an occurrence that left the squad a bit shell-shocked.
“What the (expletive) just happened?” leadoff man Casey Hill said.
The Cubs used two pitchers in the combined no-no, returning the favor for Jeff Spira’s no-hitter against them early last season. The Redhawks (8-6 overall, 6-4 Triple-A) have thrown four no-hitters in their history but never thought they would end up on the other side.
Hill came closest to recording a hit when his liner was snagged by leaping catch at shortstop in the fifth, but it simply became part of a stretch in which Cubs pitchers retired the last 16 batters in succession. Prior to that sequence, Pat Davis reached base on what initially was called a hit. He beat out a groundball that had initially been bobbled at shortstop.
Teammate Kenneth Weber, scoring at the moment, insisted he only called it a hit because the Redhawks hadn’t had one yet. At the time, it was only in the fourth and no one was considering that an actual no-hitter was on the way. Other than Davis, the team nearly unanimously agreed that an error was the proper call. After the play, the shortstop had voiced to his pitcher: “My bad, get me another one.”
But here’s the thing that the Hawks didn’t know at the time: The Cubs had given their fielder the benefit of the doubt and called it an error. So the Cubs’ initial social media post declared a one-hitter. But after seeing that the Redhawks had called it a no-hitter, the Cubs updated theirs with a correction.
That admission didn’t do much to change anyone’s mind.
“I was pretty clear in my thoughts Sunday that it was an error,” first baseman Tommy Cowan said Monday at the wedding of former teammate Derek J. Johnson. “And that hasn’t changed,”
Despite the lack of production that dropped the Redhawks’ season average from .334 to .315, the Hawks’ were in striking distance throughout. The Cubs scored all their runs in the second, all unearned against starter Kyle Jark after the inning began with an error.
Jark (0-2) pitched six solid innings and Weber two, but the Redhawks never made a rally. The closest they came was in the top of the third, when they loaded the bases with no outs (Danny Qiu reached on error, Sam Makovsky and Hill walked). But with prime hitters coming up, the Redhawks sandwiched two strikeouts around a popup and came up empty.
“That sequence hurt,” Weber said.
The Redhawks, who used only their original nine hitters, were without Nos. 2 and 3 hitters Dylan Smith (out of state) and Chuck Gillem (injured throwing hand). Spira was also out of state.
The Hawks fell to the fourth and final playoff spot and take on the No. 3 Royals on Saturday and No. 1 Browns on Sunday. They’ll be short on players once again, particularly on Saturday. But if they record a base hit, it will symbolize progress.
Notes: Cowan and teammate Paul Willis attended Johnson’s wedding in Boulder. Johnson played for the Redhawks from 2006-16, mostly in a part-time capacity. Browns shortstop Jordan Bruns, who played with Johnson at Regis University, also was in attendance, as was former Redhawks infielder Matt Hohnholt. . . . Gillem remains questionable for this weekend. . . . Cleanup hitter Adam Bies hasn’t drawn a walk in 55 plate appearances this season. . . . The Redhawks unsuccessfully reached out to several former players this week in hopes of filling out a solid lineup for Saturday. Trevor Howell and Garrett Steinert were among those who were unavailable.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 000 – 0 0 3
Cubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 040 000 000 – 4 11 2
Redhawks hitting – Hill cf-lf 3-0-0-0, Weber lf-p 4-0-0-0, Jark p-cf 4-0-0-0, Bies rf 4-0-0-0, Johnson 3b 4-0-0-0, Cowan 1b 2-0-0-0, Davis c 3-0-0-0, Qiu ss 3-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 2-0-0-0. Totals 29-0-0-0.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Jark (L 0-2) 6-8-4-0-3-3, Weber 2-3-0-0-1-1.
E – Makovsky, Qiu, Johnson.
COWAN'S RETURN SPARKS WIN VS. SOX
First baseman contributes double, go-ahead run and infield single
ENGLEWOOD – The Redhawks are finally starting to resemble the Redhawks.
It’s no coincidence that Tommy Cowan’s return is helping that process.
Cowan reappeared Sunday just under two months after enduring facial fractures on an ill-fated back-pick that required surgery. It didn’t take long for the Hawks’ emotional leader to make an impact, as he helped fuel a 7-4 win against the Red Sox that resulted in the squad’s first three-game winning streak of the season.
“It feels so (expletive) good to be back out here,” Cowan said.
Cowan single-handedly broke up a scoreless game at Englewood in the fifth, when he smoked a double off the left-field wall, moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored on another to make it 1-0. Sam Makovsky and Danny Qiu added RBI singles in the inning to push the advantage to 3-0.
Kenneth Weber pitched eight solid inning of one-run ball to give the Redhawks (6-3 Triple-A) a critical league victory. It allowed the Hawks to remain a half-game ahead of the Royals (6-4) for third place. With a loss, the Hawks would have fallen to fourth place and been in danger of losing their playoff spot to the Red Sox.
Derek Johnson had an RBI double and Pat Davis an RBI single in the sixth to make it 5-0, and Kyle Jark’s two-run homer in the seventh made 7-1. The Red Sox’s Hunter Brown hit a three-run homer against reliever Jeff Spira in the ninth to tighten the deficit.
Weber (2-1, 2.50 ERA) earned his 20th career win for the Redhawks, which ranks second all time. The squad has won all four of his starts this season and he clearly has been the finest of the Hawks’ five regular pitchers.
Of note, Davis (3-for-4) recorded his third consecutive game of three or more hits. After a pedestrian start to the season, he’s gone 10-for-14 over the past three games to lift his average to .378.
But this one was all about Cowan, who gave an impassioned pregame message to the team and picked up where he left off in the lineup.
Notes: The Redhawks’ first make-up game will be Saturday, June 22 vs. the Royals (12:30 p.m., Alameda). This one will be huge, with the Royal breathing down the Hawks’ neck in the standings. . . . Talk about a downer for the All-Star Game. The Triple-A game will be on on Saturday, July 29 at 8:30 a.m. – that’s right, a.m. – at Golden High. . . . The Redhawks get four players for the contest, which will be a seven-inning game so teams can preserve their pitching for Sunday. . . . Catcher Chuck Gillem departed in the eighth after taking a foul ball off the right hand. . . . Adam Bies recorded seven putouts in right field, including five in the first three innings. . . . Even with steals by Makovsky and Casey Hill, the Redhawks are on pace for only 30 this season. That would break their lowest-ever mark of 33, set last season.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 032 200 – 7 16 1
Red Sox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 001 003 – 4 11 2
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf 4-0-2-0, Gillem c 3-1-1-0, Jark cf 4-1-2-2, Bies rf 4-1-1-0, Johnson 3b 4-1-2-1, Cowan 1b 4-1-2-0, Davis dh-c 4-0-3-1, Weber p 4-1-1-0, Willis dh 4-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 4-1-1-1, Qiu ss 3-0-1-1. Totals 42-7-16-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber (W 2-1) 8-8-1-1-2-5, Spira 1-3-3-3-1-0.
E – Qiu. 2B – Johnson (3), Davis (2), Cowan (1). SB – Hill (1), Makovsky (1).
REDHAWKS CRUISE TO WIN VS. PREDS
Hawks institute run rule for the first time in 10 weeks
PARKER – Even wins have been stress-fests for the Redhawks this season. Entering Sunday, they’d trailed at some point in all but two of their first 12 games.
Well, make that three.
The Redhawks got a much-needed wire-to-wire victory against the Predators, a 14-4 decision in the morning game at Ponderosa. For the first time since Week 2, the Redhawks instituted the run rule.
“We needed to 10-run somebody,” shortstop Kenneth Weber said.
Jeff Spira pitched all seven innings, yielded two earned runs and struck out six to improve to 2-1. Patrick Davis had four hits, Casey Hill added three, and Adam Bies and Paul Willis produced two apiece for the Hawks (7-5, 5-3).
Davis, a left-handed batter who has mildly experimented with switch-hitting – in baseball, not life – went 3-for-4 from the right side against the Preds lefty starter. Hill recorded another three-hit game to continue an odd trend: He has five three-hit games, five hitless games and only two in which he’s produced one hit.
Hill keyed the Redhawks’ initial rally in the bottom of the second, a burst that started with two outs and the bases empty. Davis singled then Weber, Willis and Sam Makovsky drew successive walks – the latter forcing in a run. Hill then added a two-run single to make it 3-0.
In an encore to his nine-RBI performance, Bies singled twice and drove in two runs. His RBI total climbed to 21. Only Weber and Kyle Jark, who each drove in a run Sunday, are also in double digits (10 apiece).
The Hawks committed only one error, although it was a costly one that allowed the Predators to climb to within 7-4 in the fifth. But the Redhawks responded with six runs in the sixth to cement things.
“It feels like we’re about to hit our stride,” said left fielder Dylan Smith, who gunned a runner at the plate in the seventh.
Notes: The Hawks are off for Fourth of July Weekend for the first time in seven seasons. They’ll resume play July 9 vs. the Red Sox with first baseman Tommy Cowan projected to return. . . . The Redhawks played without catcher Chuck Gillem, shortstop Danny Qiu and utility man Justin Baum. . . . The Redhawks have gone 34-for-75 over the past two weeks (.453 average). . . . Spira, who had been hitless in five plate appearances this season, drew a walk in the seventh and scored the clinching run on a single by Davis. . . . Make-up games will begin July 15.
Predators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000 130 0 – 4 6 5
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 033 106 1 – 14 15 1
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf 4-2-3-2, Smith lf 4-1-1-0, Jark cf 4-1-1-1, Spira p 0-1-0-0, Bies 1b 4-2-2-2, Johnson 3b 4-2-1-1, Davis c 5-3-4-3, Weber ss 3-1-1-1, Willis dh-rf 3-1-2-1, Makovsky 2b 3-0-0-1. Totals 34-14-15-12.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 2-1) 7-6-4-2-5-6.
E – Weber. 2B – Weber (5), Johnson (2). HBP – Smith. SF – Bies.
BIES DRIVES IN 9 IN WILD WIN VS. HOPS
Performance equals eight-year-old team mark for RBIs
GREEN VALLEY RANCH – Adam Bies turned another potential Redhawks disaster into a historic performance.
The man teammates call “Eight-Run” actually one-upped his own nickname. The colossal slugger drove in nine runs in the Redhawks’ 16-11 win against the Hops at Evie Campus, including a game-cementing grand slam in the bottom of the eighth.
“As a new pitcher, I knew he was going to try to sneak a fastball by me – and he did,” Bies said. “But then he hung a curve.”
The bashtastic performance, which included two homers and fell a triple shy of the cycle, matched Corey Gaudet’s nine-RBI performance in 2009 for best in Redhawks history. Bies technically drove in a 10th run in the first inning, but RBIs aren’t awarded when a player grounds into a double play.
Bies registered an RBI single in the third, a three-run double in the fourth, a solo homer in the seventh and the monstrous grand slam to center in the eighth. He has clubbed five homers and driven in 19 already this season. Of note, the “Eight-Run” nickname is in reference to his softball league, which permits teams to choose one pitch per game to have double the outcome. His grand slam on that pitch produced eight runs.
His performance Sunday made a footnote of another Redhawks near-breakdown. The Hawks led 9-2 in the fourth, but actually trailed 10-9 entering the bottom of the seventh. Bies led off the seventh with his first homer to tie it, and the team headed to the eighth knotted at 10.
Dylan Smith pitched a scoreless top half then drove in Justin Baum with the go-ahead run to make it 11-10 prior to Bies’ slam. Smith (2-0) earned the win in relief.
Kenneth Weber departed after five with a 9-5 lead and appeared in line for the win. Paul Willis needed only six pitches to escape the sixth, but the seventh turned out to be a disaster. With a missed call at the plate incorporated – catcher Chuck Gillem made it clear he didn’t agree with the call – the Redhawks gave the Hops seven outs in the inning.
“Is this how it’s going to be all (expletive) season?” Gillem implored to the team after the inning.
But thanks largely to Bies’ heroics, the Hawks survived.
Smith, Casey Hill and Pat Davis registered three hits apiece for the Redhawks. Weber struck out seven but was deprived of what appeared to be a sure win for the second time this season.
“We won and that’s the important thing,” Weber said.
Notes: In an odd occurrence, the Redhawks defense recorded only one traditional groundout in which a play was made at first. That was the final batter, who grounded out to Smith to end it. . . . In another statistical quirk, Derek Johnson registered his first double of the season in the ninth. He set a team mark with 15 last season. . . . Gillem scored four runs.
Hops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 002 030 501 – 11 16 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 402 300 16X – 16 19 4
Redhawks hitting – Hill dh-rf 4-3-3-0, Smith lf-p 4-2-3-1, Gillem c-lf 3-4-1-0, Bies 1b 5-3-4-9, Jark cf 5-1-2-1, Johnson 3b 4-2-1-0, Davis dh-2b-c 5-0-3-2, Weber p 5-0-1-2, Willis rf-p 2-0-0-0, Baum rf 2-1-1-0, Qiu ss 1-0-0-0, Makovsky 2b 1-0-0-0. Totals 41-16-19-15.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber 5-8-5-4-1-7, Willis 2-4-5-2-0-3, Smith (W 2-0) 2-1-1-0-2-2.
E – Willis, Gillem, Johnson, Makovsky. 2B – Jark (5), Bies (2), Johnson (1). HR – Bies 2 (5). HBP – Gillem. SAC – Makovsky.
HAWKS FALL TO .500 WITH LOSS TO NUTS
Late rally falls short in quickest game of the season
LAFAYETTE – The Redhawks lost only three regular-season games last season. The year before that, too.
With Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Nuts at Alexander Dawson, they’ve already matched that total this season. The result left the normally high-flying Redhawks with a decidedly ordinary 5-5 record including 3-3 in league play.
“I felt a little better about it when our losses were to the top two teams in the league,” center fielder Kyle Jark said.
The start isn’t cause for panic. But after going 29-6-1 in league play over the past two years, it’s definitely worth monitoring. The personnel is virtually the same – better, if anything, with the addition of Adam Bies – so perhaps it’s just a matter of time before things get clicking.
But players have noticed the funereal atmosphere in the dugout when the Redhawks fall behind or endure a rough inning.
“Our mental approach is (expletive) zapped,” catcher Pat Davis said.
Perhaps it’s a matter of getting team leader Tommy Cowan back from injury. Maybe it’s just baseball and the Hawks are about to go on their customary midseason surge. But either way, the squad seems in need of rechanneling some of its energy.
“We need to worry about the things we can control,” infielder Kenneth Weber said.
The Redhawks didn’t get a hit until Weber’s double in the fifth. They were held scoreless until the eighth in a game that breezed by in a brisk 1 hour, 56 minutes. Starter Paul Willis was efficient other than allowing a two-run homer in the fourth. The veteran pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Weber finished up with two scoreless innings to keep the Hawks in contention.
They finally punched back in the eighth, when Justin Baum led off with a double off the left-field wall. He scored on an RBI single by Dylan Smith. Jark added a run-scoring single that cut it to 3-2, and Bies came to the plate with a chance to do damage. But he was grazed on the sleeve by a pitch, which took the bat out of his hands. Derek Johnson then popped out to end the threat.
Davis hit a one-out double in the ninth and represented the tying run. But Willis struck out and Danny Qiu popped out to end it.
Notes: Weber has four doubles in his past three games. . . . . The Redhawks played without Cowan, catcher Chuck Gillem, second baseman Sam Makovsky and pitcher Jeff Spira. . . . The Redhawks get back to action Sunday against the Hops. They could face pitcher Edison Rodriquez, who joined the team in Las Vegas and played well.
Nuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .010 200 000 – 3 7 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 020 – 2 7 0
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf 4-1-0-0, Smith lf 4-0-1-1, Jark cf 4-0-2-1, Bies 1b-2b 2-0-0-0, Johnson 3b 4-0-0-0, Weber 2b-p 4-0-2-0, Davis c 4-0-1-0, Willis p 4-0-0-0, Qiu ss 4-0-0-0, Baum 1b 2-1-1-0. Totals 36-2-7-2.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis (L 1-2) 7-5-3-3-1-4, Weber 2-2-0-0-0-3.
E – None. 2B –Weber (4), Baum (1), Davis (1). HBP – Bies 2.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE FOR REDHAWKS
After several miscues of their own, Hawks win on Royals error
DENVER – It was justice for Kyle Jark.
The Redhawks righty pitched a gem Sunday, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect it. Due to a bevy of errors, he departed after seven innings with the score tied 5-5 and had to settle for a no-decision despite allowing only one earned run.
Still tied in the bottom of the eighth, Jark had a chance to put the Redhawks ahead with his bat with two on and two outs. His pop-up to right field appeared routine, but fate had Jark’s back.
The Royals misplayed the pop-up, allowing Dylan Smith and Chuck Gillem to score the go-ahead runs. Smith then shut the door in the ninth, and the Redhawks hung on for a key 7-5 league win.
“I’m not saying we deserved it,” Jark said. “But the baseball gods have a way of evening things out.”
Smith (1-0) retired all six batters he faced, including three via the strikeout. After a rough start to the season on the mound, Smith has caught a groove and has whiffed eight of the past 14 hitters.
Adam Bies hit a second-inning homer for the Redhawks – his third of the season – and Kenneth Weber added an RBI double. The Hawks led 3-0 after the second, but as per their custom this season, gave it right back.
A high morning sun wreaked havoc on corner outfielders Bies and Casey Hill, who encountered fly balls that were either partially or completely shrouded by luminescence.
“Sunglasses wouldn’t have mattered because the ball went directly into the circumference of the sun,” Hill said.
Outfield difficulties combined with a few run-of-the-mill miscues turned Jark’s outing from a potential shutout to a battle to stay even. Off to a lethargic 2-2 start in league play, the Redhawks (5-4 overall) could ill-afford another loss. It wasn’t a beauty, but it was comforting to end the day on the plus side of .500.
Notes: Danny Qiu became the first Redhawks player to register a sacrifice fly and sacrifice bunt in the same game. He has recorded a sac fly in three of his past four games. . . . Jeff Spira and Justin Baum manned first base and combined for 13 putouts. Baum made a key scoop of a Gillem throw after a third strike to end the eighth. “Baum saved me twice,” Gillem said. . . . The Redhawks get back to action Sunday against the Nuts (12:30 p.m., Alexander Dawson). Weber likely will get the start on the hill. . . . The contest was originally scheduled at Ponderosa but was shifted to Denver North. . . . Injured first baseman Tommy Cowan visited the team for a few innings. Cowan is projected to return to action July 9.
Royals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .003 101 000 – 5 6 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 031 001 02X – 7 8 5
Redhawks hitting – Hill lf 4-0-0-0, Smith cf-p 4-1-0-0, Gillem c 4-2-2-0, Bies rf 4-1-2-2, Johnson 3b 3-2-1-0, Jark p-cf 4-0-2-1, Davis dh 4-1-0-0, Weber 2b-3b-ss 2-0-1-1, Qiu ss 1-0-0-1, Makovsky 2b 2-0-0-0. Totals 32-7-8-5.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Jark 7-6-5-1-4-4, Smith (W 1-0) 2-0-0-0-0-3.
E – Bies 2, Weber, Hill, Johnson. 2B – Jark (4), Weber (3). HR – Bies (3). SB – Smith (4), Gillem (2). SF – Qiu. SAC – Qiu. HBP -- Weber.
BREAKING EVEN NEVER BAD IN VEGAS
Redhawks advance to Memorial Day Tournament semifinals, split four games overall
LAS VEGAS – After nonstop anticipation since the fall, the Redhawks experienced a little bit of everything in Las Vegas over Memorial Day Weekend.
That’s not even considering baseball.
While the Sin City distractions were aplenty, the Redhawks represented well on the diamond – for the most part. Guaranteed three games, the Hawks advanced from pool play with a 2-1 record and lost to the Long Beach Tigres, the eventual champions, in the tournament semifinals.
A 2-2 mark was far from perfect. But it was also far from failure as the Redhawks rebounded from a rough opening loss to defeat teams from Los Angeles and Arizona to escape the pool.
“Very successful first effort,” said Kenneth Weber, who threw a complete-game win against the Arizona Angels. “It sounds pretty unanimous that everybody wants to come back next year.”
Playing on pristine fields far superior than anything NABA uses in Denver, the Redhawks used only six pitchers over four games (one appearance apiece). All of them either won or gave the Hawks a chance.
“Our pitchers were the (expletive) highlight,” catcher Pat Davis said. “They were (expletive) lights out.”
After going 3-for-32 in the opening 7-1 loss to the California Braves, the Redhawks shuffled the order and the bats awakened in desert heat that regularly approached 100 degrees. They racked up 43 hits over the next three games, including a grand slam from Derek Johnson, solo homer from Adam Bies and several loud extra-base hits.
The bugaboo for the Redhawks was the Centennial diamond. The Redhawks went 0-2 there and committed six errors in each game (they couldn’t blame the immaculate field). In games at Bonanza and College of Southern Nevada, the Hawks were 2-0 with a combined two errors.
Here’s a brief look at each game:
California Braves 7, Redhawks 1
The Redhawks immediately put themselves in a predicament, as two infield errors led to a three-run first for the Braves. They wouldn’t need much more, as the Redhawks managed only three hits, scoring their lone run on an RBI single by Dylan Smith in the third.
The fielding woes persisted after the first and limited ace Jeff Spira to five innings (six runs, two earned). Kyle Jark finished up by allowing only one run in the final four innings, but the Redhawks never mounted a rally.
Tournament newcomer Edison Rodriquez provided some spark with some solid defense, including a diving pickup-and-throw from shortstop in the eighth.
California Braves . . . . . . . . 300 021 010 – 7 7 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 001 000 000 – 1 3 6
Redhawks hitting – Gillem c 4-0-0-0, Smith lf-cf 4-0-1-1, Bies 1b 4-0-0-0, Johnson 3b 3-0-0-0, Jark cf-p 3-0-0-0, Hill rf-lf 3-0-1-0, Davis dh-2b 3-0-0-0, Weber 2b 2-1-0-0, Willis dh-rf 2-0-0-0, Baum rf 1-0-0-0, Qiu ss 3-0-1-0, Rodriquez ss-2b 0-0-0-0. Totals 32-1-3-1.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (L 1-1) 5-3-6-2-5-4, Jark 4-4-1-1-2-3.
E – Qiu 2, Weber 2, Gillem, Rodriquez. SB – Weber (2). SAC – Jark. HBP – Rodriquez.
Redhawks 15, LA Angels 3
Eager to wash away the poor early showing, the Redhawks erupted for five runs in each of the first two innings. The cushion was plenty for Rodriquez, who struck out eight in a seven-inning complete game.
Bies got the scoring started with a two-run double to the left-center gap. Johnson added an RBI single, Jark an RBI triple and Davis a sac fly to make it 5-0. In the second, Johnson’s grand slam made it 10-0. Justin Baum added a two-run single for the Hawks.
The Redhawks juggled their lineup after the early struggles and Casey Hill provided a spark from the top. He went 3-for-4 en route to an 8-for-17 performance in the tourney with no strikeouts.
Los Angeles Indians . . . . . .000 102 0 – 3 7 3
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 550 041 X – 15 17 0
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf-cf 4-2-3-0, Smith lf 2-1-0-1, Gillem cf-c 4-2-2-0, Bies 1b-lf 4-2-3-2, Johnson 3b 4-2-2-5, Jark cf-1b 3-2-2-2, Davis c 3-1-1-1, Weber 2b 3-1-1-0, Baum dh-1b 2-1-1-2, Willis rf 1-0-1-0, Rodriquez p 2-1-1-0, Qiu ss 0-0-0-1, Spira ph 1-0-0-0. Totals 33-15-17-14.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Rodriquez (W 1-0) 7-7-3-3-3-8.
E – None. 2B – Gillem (4), Bies (1). 3B – Jark (1). HR – Johnson (1). SB – Rodriquez (1). SF – Davis, Smith, Qiu. HBP – Jark.
Redhawks 8, Arizona Angels 3
At College of Southern Nevada
The Redhawks knew they were in a win-and-in scenario here, and Weber made sure it happened. On the finest field his team has ever played on, Weber permitted only two earned runs and struck out six in a complete-game performance.
After the Hawks left multiple runners on base early, Chuck Gillem came through with a go-ahead two-run single to make it 4-2. They put it away in the eighth with help from an RBI single from Rodriquez and a run-scoring triple from perhaps the most unlikely source to hit a standup three-bagger: Paul Willis. His opposite-field liner ended up in the right-field corner.
Hill recorded his second straight three-hit games and Gillem, Davis and Smith had two apiece in the win. Of note, Danny Qiu hit a sacrifice fly for the second consecutive game, one of four for the Redhawks in the tourney.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 011 210 030 – 8 15 2
Arizona Angels . . . . . . . . . .101 001 000 – 3 6 2
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf 5-1-3-0, Smith lf 4-0-2-0, Gillem c 4-0-2-2, Bies 1b 5-0-1-1, Johnson 3b 5-1-1-0, Jark cf 3-1-0-0, Spira ph 1-0-0-0, Davis dh 3-1-2-1, Weber p 3-1-1-0, Qiu ss 2-1-1-1, Baum 1b 1-0-0-0, Rodriquez 2b 4-2-1-1, Willis ph-dh 2-0-1-1. Totals 33-15-17-14.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber (W 1-1) 9-6-3-2-2-6.
E – Rodriquez, Qiu. 3B – Johnson (1), Willis (1). SB – Smith (3), Jark (1). SF – Qiu.
Long Beach Tigres 10, Redhawks 4
Bies’ solo blast to right-center gave the Redhawks a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Centennial-based fielding woes soon reared their ugly head. Six different players committed an error, allowing six unearned runs to a Tigres team that was held without an extra-base hit.
Willis made his first start on the mound since 2015 and departed after six trailing 6-2, having surrendered two earned runs. Smith relieved and, after navigating through a challenging opening stretch fueled by another error, struck out five of the final six hitters he faced.
Weber went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI, and Bies followed his early homer with an RBI single in the eighth. The slugger finished the tourney 6-for-16 with five RBI.
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .010 010 011 – 4 11 6
Long Beach Tigres . . . . . . . . . . 012 210 40X – 10 11 0
Redhawks hitting – Hill rf-lf 5-0-1-0, Smith lf-p 3-0-0-0, Gillem rf-lf 4-0-1-0, Bies 1b 3-1-2-2, Johnson 3b 4-0-1-0, Davis c 4-0-1-0, Weber dh 4-0-3-2, Qiu ss 3-0-0-0, Baum rf 1-0-0-0, Rodriquez 2b 2-1-0-0, Spira 1b 0-0-0-0. Totals 37-4-11-4.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Willis (L 1-1) 6-8-6-2-3-0, Smith 2-3-4-2-2-5.
E – Smith, Johnson, Hill, Davis, Willis, Rodriquez. 2B – Weber 2 (2). HR – Bies (2). HBP – Bies.
EARLY RALLY NOT ENOUGH VS. BROWNS
Redhawks plate five in the first, then bats fall silent
ENGLEWOOD – When the Redhawks produced five runs against Denver Browns starter Steven Reilly in the first inning Sunday, it wasn’t necessarily a good omen.
The Redhawks did the same thing in the 2015 Triple-A championship game, and that didn’t turn out so well.
And just like the 2015 title game, Reilly settled in after the rough start and the Browns came back to win. This one was a 9-6 decision on the Englewood diamond that left the Hawks with a 2-2 record as they depart for Las Vegas this week.
This time, the Browns (5-0) got all the runs back at once. They tied it 5-5 in the top of the second inning on a single-fueled rally against Redhawks starter Jeff Spira. While the Browns had some solid contact throughout the game, not many occurred during this rally. The toughest pill to swallow for Spira was a broken-bat, opposite-field two-run single by Matt Barker that tied it up.
Other than the early rallies, it was a crisp game that featured only two errors (one per team). Tied 6-6, the Browns scored three off reliever Kenneth Weber in the top of the sixth, but Weber quickly settled in and didn’t allow another run over four innings.
The Redhawks, though, couldn’t rally against Reilly or reliever Lee Busto.
The Hawks jumped to the 5-0 lead on a two-run, opposite-field homer by Adam Bies, a bases-loaded walk by Weber and a two-run single by Paul Willis. An RBI single by Weber in the fifth made it 6-6.
The Redhawks outhit the Browns 13-11, but 12 of the hits were singles. Coupled with last week’s loss to the Cubs, this marks the first time since 2014 that the Redhawks have dropped successive league games.
Notes: The Redhawks schedule for Las Vegas has been released and posted on the site. . . . Upon return to league play on June 4, catcher Pat Davis will host a team barbecue after the 9 a.m. game at Ponderosa. Players will be encouraged to pitch $10 apiece to help Davis fund the catered event. . . . Justin Baum and Matt Pennel made their first appearances of the season. Baum, who went 1-for-2, will join the Redhawks in Vegas. . . . Davis and Willis also recorded their first hits of the season.
Browns . . . . . . . . . . . . 050 103 000 – 9 11 1
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . 500 001 000 – 6 13 1
Redhawks hitting – Gillem c 5-1-2-0, Smith lf 5-0-2-0, Bies 1b-3b 5-1-2-2, Johnson 3b-ss 4-1-1-0, Jark cf 4-1-1-0, Hill rf 4-1-0-0, Davis 2b 3-1-2-0, Weber ss-p 3-0-1-2, Willis dh 3-0-1-2, Baum dh 2-0-1-0, Pennel 1b 2-0-0-0. Totals 40-6-13-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira 5-7-6-6-3-1, Weber (L 0-1) 4-4-3-3-0-2.
E – Johnson. HR –Bies (1). HBP – Willis.
COWAN INJURED IN LOSS TO CUBS
First baseman endures facial fractures, concussion
ENGLEWOOD – Baseball seems to be the least risky of the big four sports, not the type of activity bound to have life-altering consequences.
Don’t tell that to the Redhawks.
In a dispiriting 12-2 loss to the Cubs on Sunday, the Redhawks lost first baseman and team leader Tommy Cowan indefinitely after what he termed the worst pain of his life. It marked the third straight season that a Redhawks player has endured a bizarre, gruesome injury.
Cowan, in his seventh season with the Redhawks, endured four facial fractures and a concussion when a back-pick from catcher Pat Davis caught him flush on the cheek as he tried to pull his glove down to make a tag.
“Needless to say, Vegas is probably out for me,” said Cowan, who was in better spirits Monday after spending the remainder of Sunday at Swedish Hospital.
He’ll undergo surgery Thursday, and, as he alluded to, almost certainly will not be able to play in Las Vegas over Memorial Day. Newcomer Adam Bies likely will spend a lot of time at first base as Cowan recuperates.
Cowan’s injury is the latest in a long line of life-changing injuries. In 2015, Matt Pennel endured a broken femur at a team practice. Last season, pitcher James Dinges’ arm snapped while delivering a pitch. Back in 2012, Jared Ming endured a severe injury just below the eye in the All-Star Game. And former outfielder Garrett Steinert suffered torn ACLs in 2009 and 2011.
So much for a low-risk Sunday activity.
As for the game, the Redhawks had several chances early to get to pitcher Nolan Snell, a player not listed on the Cubs official roster who was making his initial appearance with the team. He walked the first two batters in the first and second, but the Redhawks (2-1) couldn’t push across any runs. Snell, whose pitch count climbed above 160, ended up striking out 17 and walking six.
Redhawks leadoff hitter Chuck Gillem went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and a stolen base. But in a microcosm of the day, the Redhawks couldn’t bring him home once.
The Redhawks accept their losses, were clearly outplayed and seldom complain about umpires. But even the Cubs admitted that the pair Sunday was atrocious. The field ump severely blew two calls – one benefitting each team – but the home-plate umpire was the least fit for a Triple-A game. It’s one thing to have a wide zone, because players can learn it and adjust. But being inconsistent with it maddened players on both sides.
“Give their pitcher credit, because he knew he could get that call off the plate so he kept throwing it there,” Redhawks pitcher Jeff Spira said.
The Cubs (4-1) broke open a scoreless game in the fourth with a six-run inning against starter Kyle Jark. The inning opened with the Redhawks’ lone error and was broken open when a three-run triple made it 5-0.
Notes: The Redhawks face the Browns next week, with the idea not to overextend any pitchers with Vegas coming the following weekend. . . . The Hawks played without second baseman Sam Makovsky and third baseman Derek Johnson. . . . Johnson could see some time at shortstop next week with Qiu out of town and Kenneth Weber bound to spend some time on the mound. Typically, the Redhawks shift Cowan to shortstop in that scenario. . . . So solid last week, the second half of the Redhawks order went 0-for-13 with 10 strikeouts.
Cubs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 610 41 – 12 12 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . .000 101 00 – 2 5 1
Redhawks hitting – Gillem lf 3-0-3-0, Smith cf-p 2-0-0-0, Cowan 1b 2-0-0-0, Willis ph-dh 2-0-0-0, Bies 3b 3-1-1-0, Jark p-1b-cf 3-1-1-1, Davis c 2-0-0-0, Hill rf 2-0-0-0, Weber 2b 3-0-0-0, Qiu ss 3-0-0-0, Spira dh-p-1b 3-0-0-0. Totals 28-2-5-1.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Jark (L 0-1) 3.1-5-6-5-2-4, Spira 2.2-2-1-1-1-3, Smith 2-5-5-5-1-1.
E – Qiu. 2B – Gillem (3), Jark (3). 3B – Bies (1). SB – Gillem (1). CS – Smith. HBP – Bies.
NEW LOOK YIELDS WIN VS. SOX
Hill drives in five, Spira whiffs eight as Hawks improve to 2-0
DENVER – The new uniforms were off to an inauspicious start. On the day they were supposed to be unveiled last month, a sprinkler issue caused a postponement. Snow wiped out the following game.
Then when the new look finally debuted Sunday, the Redhawks promptly fell behind by three runs.
But after sleepwalking through the first three innings, the Redhawks shook off the rust. They strung together a few solid rallies, got monster days at the plate from Casey Hill and Kyle Jark, and cruised to a 15-3 over the Red Sox at Denver North.
Things didn’t look great when the first three Red Sox batters reached and scored, but starter Jeff Spira quickly righted the ship. He struck out eight, walked none and permitted only one earned run over five innings.
“That’s as good as I’ve ever seen him look as far commanding all of his pitches and hitting his spots,” said Chuck Gillem, who went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.
Hill hit a run-scoring single in the fourth, a two-run single in the fifth and a two-run double to center in the sixth. He finished 3-for-4 with five RBI. The diminutive outfielder’s double landed near the fence.
“I was already in my trot,” said Hill, although it wasn’t clear whether he believed the double was bound for a homer or a fly out.
Jark finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and just missed a grand slam off the top of the center-field wall in the sixth. Tommy Cowan added three RBIs, including the go-ahead two-run single down the third-base line in the fifth.
Kenneth Weber homered and finished up with two scoreless innings. Weber has struck out 14 over eight scoreless innings in two appearances this season.
Next up for the Redhawks is a matchup with the Colorado Cubs (12:30, Sunday, Englewood). The Hawks will be without third baseman Derek Johnson, shortstop Danny Qiu and most likely second baseman Sam Makovsky.
Notes: The Redhawks played without cleanup hitter Adam Bies, who was in Dallas for a wedding. He’ll return for the Cubs game. . . . The Redhawks’ six former Thomas Jefferson athletes played against another in Red Sox shortstop Tyler Thornton. . . . The Redhawks had hoped to get all their pitchers significant action prior to the Las Vegas tournament, but that is no longer an option. At most, 18 innings are available prior to departure.
Red Sox . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 000 0 – 3 6 2
Redhawks . . . . . . . . . .000 285 X – 15 15 1
Redhawks hitting – Gillem c 4-2-2-0, Smith lf-cf 3-2-1-0, Cowan 1b 4-3-2-3, Johnson 3b 2-1-0-0, Jark cf 4-3-3-3, Davis dh-2b 1-1-0-0, Hill rf 4-1-3-5, Weber 2b-3b-p 3-1-2-2, Qiu ss 3-1-1-0, Makovsky 2b 3-0-1-0, Willis lf 1-0-0-0. Totals 32-15-15-13.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Spira (W 1-0) 5-6-3-1-0-8, Weber 2-0-0-0-1-3.
E – Johnson. 2B – Gillem (2), Jark (2), Hill (1). HR – Weber (1). SB – Smith (2), Weber (1). HBP – Makovsky. CS – Makovsky.
WEATHER, BAD LUCK KEEPING HAWKS OFF THE FIELD
The Redhawks began practicing in February. Man, did they jump the gun.
While the Hawks made sure they were sufficiently prepared for the season with more than a dozen indoor and outdoor workouts, the season simply hasn’t materialized.
What’s followed has been a bevy of soul-shattering postponements – some for typical reasons, some not – that have dampened the spirits of the Hawks perhaps more than losses could have.
“Is it just me or do we get (hosed) the most on games needing to be rescheduled?” first baseman Tommy Cowan pondered after a recent unexpected cancellation against the Hops.
Cowan might be on to something. The Redhawks are one of only two teams in all of NABA that have played only one game.
Yep, the Hawks have been postponed three of their first four weeks, and the lack of game action is even more pronounced when considering the Easter week off in mid-April. And their lone game, a 7-5 win against the Nuts nearly a month ago, was played in miserable windswept conditions.
The hope was to take part in several games before the team heads to Las Vegas in late May, with the idea of stretching their pitchers out so they’re prepared for a grind that could feature five games in three days.
So much for that.
At this point, the team has joked that they might carry a 1-0 record into the Memorial Day tournament. Starter Jeff Spira has yet to throw a pitch, although he and the rest have the staff have faced their own teammates numerous times at practice. At this point, the Redhawks are more like a group of guys that get together for an afternoon at the park than a team that plays actual games.
Yes, the forecast is stellar for next weekend, but that didn’t work out well last time. On April 23, temperatures were in the 70s and the Redhawks had just acquired their new uniforms and were set to debut them against the Hops. But commissioner Joe Collins texted the team early that morning, alerting them of a busted sprinkler at the Evie Campus field, which required emergency mentioned. The game was postponed.
Collins is a great guy. But if you get a text from him on game day, it’s usually bad news. And for a seemingly isolated incident, water issues seem to follow the Redhawks. This marked the seventh time in team history that water problems have wiped out a game, although three of those occurred at Colorado Academy, which notoriously had leaky sprinklers.
In addition, the Hawks opener on April 2 against the Royals was canceled due to poor field conditions (about 40 percent of the league had playable fields that day). And the entire league slate was wiped out April 30 due to that weekend’s snow. All this has followed one of the mildest winters in Colorado history.
So the Hawks are three games in the hole four weeks in.
“We just have to keep at it,” outfielder Dylan Smith said.
HAWKS ESCAPE PECULIAR OPENER WITH WIN
Weber settles for no-decision after electric 11-K start
LAFAYETTE – Kenneth Weber was magnificent. The remainder of the Redhawks did what they could to survive a quirky opening day.
The Hawks began 2017 with a 7-5 win against the Nuts at windswept Alexander Dawson, but they made things much more difficult on themselves than they could have been.
“This has to be the least conventional opener we’ve ever had,” said Redhawks veteran Pat Davis after the Hawks were forced to stage a late rally in a game they seemingly had in hand.
As it was, the Hawks won their opener for the eighth time in nine seasons and improved to 13-3 all-time in the inaugural contest. This one effectively squelched the lingering memories of a 10-1 Pagan stomp at the hands of the Bears to start last season.
Weber, who found out less than 24 hours before the game that he was starting, simply diced the Nuts’ lineup. He struck out 11 in six scoreless innings, allowing a mere two hits while not permitting a walk. He departed up 4-0 and seemed a lock for the win.
Then, the bottom of the seventh. Relievers Dylan Smith and Paul Willis were uncharacteristically wild, and the Nuts plated four runs despite recording only one hit in the inning. Smith walked three batters and threw two wild pitches while Willis walked one and plunked two.
All of a sudden it was a new game at 4-4, but the tie didn’t last for long. Catcher Chuck Gillem crushed a double to center to lead off the eighth, and came home when the throw from the outfield hopped over third base and went out of play. If a throw from the outfield is untouched by a fielder, a runner gets two bases.
“Not too many umpires catch that one,” Gillem said.
Smith, who more than atoned for his pitching performance with his day at the plate (3-for-3, double, two RBI, two runs stolen base), then singled and scored on an RBI base hit by Adam Bies to make it 6-4.
With the momentum firmly recovered, Willis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and the Hawks added a run on a Casey Hill groundout in the top of the ninth. Kyle Jark allowed one run in the ninth but finished up for the save.
Gillem and Danny Qiu each had two hits for the Hawks, who recorded 12 overall.
Notes: Wind gusts approached 50 mph throughout, making conditions miserable at times. . . . Hawks pitchers held the Nuts to a 4-for-31 performance with 14 strikeouts. . . . The Hawks played without pitcher Jeff Spira and reserve infielder Matt Pennel. . . . After finally playing their opener, the Redhawks will have another week off with Easter slated for next weekend. They’ll get back to action April 23 against the Hops (1-1).
Redhawks . . . . . . . 002 200 021 – 7 12 2
Nuts . . . . . . . . . . . . 000 000 401 – 5 4 4
Redhawks hitting – Gillem c 5-2-2-1, Smith lf-p-cf 3-2-3-2, Cowan 1b 2-0-1-1, Bies dh 4-0-1-1, Jark cf-p 4-0-1-0, Johnson 3b 3-0-1-0, Davis dh 4-0-0-0, Weber p 4-1-1-0, Makovsky 2b 2-0-0-0, Qiu ss 2-1-2-0, Hill rf-lf 4-1-0-1, Willis rf-p 1-0-0-0. Totals 38-7-12-6.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) – Weber 6-2-0-0-0-11, Smith 0.2-1-4-3-3-0, Willis (W 1-0) 1.1-0-0-0-1-2, Jark (Sv 1) 1-1-1-1-0-1.
E – Makovsky, Smith. 2B – Gillem (1), Smith (1), Jark (1), Qiu (1). SB – Smith (1). HBP – Cowan.
12 QUESTIONS WITH ADAM BIES
By Paul Willis
Maybe Bies is short for Beastly. Upon joining the Redhawks in the fall, hulking slugger Adam Bies bashed three home runs and drove in nine in a mere 23 at-bats. The Hawks are still talking about two of the homers, including an opposite-field laser that left a Stanton-esque smoke trail.
The 2007 Grandview graduate, who played at Southern Nazarene University and once went 6-for-6 with three homers against Lubbock Christian, is a full-timer for the Redhawks this season. Bies, who earned his Master from Colorado Mines in 2015 and is a design engineer at the startup company Petrotech (which he cofounded), perhaps possesses the best raw power of any player in Redhawks annals.
With opening day approaching, we caught up with Bies for 12 questions.
1. So far, how has your preconception of the Redhawks matched up with actually playing on the team?
Bies: So far playing on the Redhawks has matched up with my expectations. I have played on a lot of different baseball teams throughout by athletic career and I am well versed in the nuances of joining a new group of guys to go out and compete towards a common goal.
While each team has its own personality and intricacies, I have found that most ballplayers are made from a similar mold, which makes joining a new team much easier. As for the talent and ability of the team, I knew the Redhawks are always one of the better teams in the league and there is a lot of talent throughout the lineup, which is awesome.
2. How long did it take to separate everyone and learn all the names – or is that still an ongoing process?
Bies: It didn’t take too long, maybe a game or two. I knew a handful of the guys through a couple mutual friends and the rest comes easy after you play a game or two.
3. You crushed in fall with three homers and plenty of loud hits. Were you surprised by that type of immediate production?
Bies: I wasn’t too surprised. I have been playing a lot of softball and golf and so the rotational part of the game doesn’t bother me. My only concern was getting my timing back and getting used to the flow of the game again, but that came back quickly.
4. What type of power numbers do you think you could produce in a full 30-game season, keeping in mind most teams are superior to what we saw in fall?
Bies: I think that I could hit double-digit home run numbers. The longer season will let me get into the flow of things, and I have produced numbers like this before. So I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility, but who knows.
5. You’ve played all over the place so far, third base, second base, outfield and a stint on the mound in the recent scrimmage. While it’s commendable to be versatile, what would you consider your natural position?
Bies: I think outfield is likely my natural position. I have always liked tracking down flyballs and throwing guys out, so I would probably say outfield.
6. Who’s your MLB team? And who are some of your favorite pro ballers?
Bies: I am a homer for the Rockies but that is often painful. As for favorite players, I would have to go with Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Giancarlo Stanton, Buster Posey, and Hanley Ramirez. I like the way all these guys play.
7. If you could transfer your baseball talent to another sport, which would it be?
Bies: Tennis, I think that would be fun.
8. Pick a different teammate for each of the following. Feel free to add an explainer for each: A) Handle your finances; B) Pass a critical exam; C) Team with in a golf long-ball driving challenge; D) To be on your side in a bar brawl.
Bies: A. Pat Davis. B. Kyle Jark. C. Wouldn’t matter. Pretty sure I could outdrive anybody on the team. D. Tommy, I think he would be scrappy.
9. We’ve only seen you on the mound for one inning. Give us a scouting report on yourself as a pitcher.
Bies: Well, at the current time I am on the DL from pitching with some elbow pain. But in the past, it would be a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes, pitches to contact and hits spots. Below-average pitches with good control and a lot of strikes.
10. So far, we haven’t seen you much after the games. How often do you see yourself hanging out with the team for the postgame meal/drinks?
Bies: Really schedule dependent. Working this new startup takes a lot of time and effort, but I like the team and all the guys. I am looking forward to Vegas because that will be a good opportunity to kick it with the bros.
11. Thoughts on the new uniforms?
Bies: I like the new uniforms. They look sharp. I think we will definitely be the best-looking team in the league.
12. Everyone is pumped out of their mind for Vegas. You seem to be a fairly established veteran of that town. How often do you go there and where are your favorite spots?
Bies: I really don’t know if I would call myself a veteran. I have been there three times in my adult life and I stayed at a few different spots. I like the buffet at the Caesar’s; that was solid. I would have to say the food is one of my favorite parts of Vegas.
12 QUESTIONS WITH CASEY HILL
By Kenneth Weber
Regardless of whether you consider it one of the greatest baseball movies of all time, Bull Durham certainly has some memorable lines. Whether it’s wild accusations of lollygagging or hitting the shit out of the bull, the film has – and will continue to – influence generations of baseball fanatics. One quote in particular seems to stand out:
“Your shower shoes have fungus on them,” Crash Davis said. “You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob."
Shouldering an environmentally friendly baseball/obnoxious organic-market tote bag, a pair of little league imitation stirrups and greased into a pair of pants so tight it would make Billy Lyons blush, less than a year ago Casey Hill strutted on to the diamond for the first time in a decade.
“He looked like absolute hell. I'm surprised we didn't cut him after the game,”second baseman Sam Makovsky reminisced.
Hill has refused to subdue the trademark charisma as he and his trademark ECObag have totaled the third-most knocks to date this season while providing dazzling defense in the outfield for the 'Hawks (6-1).
For better or worse, Hill has been exposed to the dirty dozen in an attempt to break the enigma once and for all.
1. It’s been a few years since you last played organized baseball. Can you tell us how long it’s been and what finally made you get back in to the game?
Hill: I haven't played organized baseball since my senior year of high school. So, it's been about 10 years. The only thing that was preventing me from playing was my work schedule. I finally got myself a real job with actual weekends and here I am.
2. How would you grade the level of competition you’ve faced so far? How has it differed from your expectations?
Hill: I was nervous coming back to baseball after so many years, but I don’t feel like the competition has overwhelmed me, thankfully. I expected the pitchers to all throw in the 90s consistently and totally overpower me as a hitter. I’m happy to report that has not been the case. The defense is a lot better than I've ever faced, especially the outfielders and catchers.
3. We’ve seen you shine in the outfield, but you’ve yet to grace us with the presence elsewhere. Where else on the field do you think you could hold your own and provide the same spark for the team?
Hill: You know that doofus that runs the jackets out from the bullpen? Yeah, I could do that.
4. “Reek and Ramsey” has been thrown around to describe the relationship you have with your longtime friend and teammate Sam Makovsky. Do you feel it is as tyrannical as that analogy suggests?
Hill: Well, the joke’s on you! I have never seen Game of Thrones and the nicknames mean absolutely nothing to me. To better answer your question, I’d compare me and Sam’s relationship to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. We started out in a similar fashion. Only, I'm still relevant. Burn.
5. Give us an ETA of your first home run in a Redhawks uniform.
Hill: You know, I’ve always dreamed of hitting a walk-off home run. So, it will probably happen at a totally meaningless time and against a terrible team. No one will say anything and I’ll die a little inside.
6. The Redhawks have had an unusual wealth of arms on the mound this season. Of all your teammates who have yet to toe the rubber, who do you think would have the most success and what would be his most dominant pitch?
Hill: I’ve watched Tommy toss the ball around the infield and he has some pretty good zip on it. I think he could fare pretty well on the mound if he could locate his pitches. I’d guess his best pitch would be a neck-high beanball. He’d probably laugh about it, too.
7. Although not well known, you’ve expressed a taste for the horror movie genre off the field. What movie, aside from the Human Centipede, has been most compelling to you and why? Feel free to be as graphical as necessary in your response.
Hill: I was introduced to the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a wee child. I watched it with my dad when I was about 12 or so. That movie has always stuck with me because of how the violence is shown. They added no background music at all. It’s just some maniac running around with a chainsaw, in dead silence, and murdering people. It’s quite disturbing and haunting.
On a side note: Sam totally brought a girl on a first date to see The Last House On The Left. There’s practically the worst rape scene ever in that movie and Sam started to sweat so bad she had to blow his hands dry. I guarantee that’s the only thing she blew.
8. Which pro player, active or retired, best reflects your skills on the field?
Hill: The answer is clearly a mixture of Bengie Molina, Quinton McCracken and Juan Pierre. I have Molina's speed, McCracken's power and Pierre’s arm. I’m like, the full package.
9. You've created an admirable career for yourself in the nonprofit industry working at establishments such as the Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo. Of your teammates, who is most likely to be the following animal or plant? Silver Back Gorilla, Peacock, Corpse Flower and Wandering Jew?
Hill: I’m going to call Chuck the gorilla. Mostly because I recently saw the video of that child fall into the gorilla exhibit in Cincinnati. That same behavior exhibited by the gorilla can be seen in Chuck whenever an umpire makes a bad call. Additionally, I shared the same fear as that child when Chuck was ejected from that Bears game.
Pat has to be the peacock. Mostly because those things don’t look like they can fly at all. Yet, somehow, they get their fat little bodies into the air. Similarly, Pat is fat. . . . If that was mean, I’m sorry – sorry for all those sausages Pat slaughters every night. Pat, I’m so sorry.
A few fun facts about the Corpse Flower: It is one of the tallest flowers in the world and can grow up to 10 feet tall. It smells like a dead mammal corpse to attract pollinators. The first Corpse Flower to bloom in the rocky mountain region happened last year at Denver Botanic Gardens. Jeff is kind of like the Corpse Flower. He’s tall, new to the team and he might smell like garbage. I don’t know, I haven’t been close enough to find out. Again, I’m sorry.
The Wandering Jew plant got its name because it can grow anywhere and eventually gets everywhere. Kind of like Billy’s handlebar mustache. Does that thing even end? Or does it just attach to his chest hair?
There you have it, four enemies. I have made four enemies.
10. When the time finally comes, what do you choose for your walkup song?
Hill: Smash Mouth - All Star. Next question.
11. The presidential election is coming up and you’re surely chomping at the bit to cast your vote. Who’s your choice for the next leader of the free world?
Hill: Dutch from Predator. Not to be mistaken with the actor who played him, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m literally talking about the fictional character. He out-muscled the biggest alien Earth has ever seen. He is the GD leader we deserve.
12. Which is least likely to happen? The Rockies win the World Series; we discover extraterrestrial life or you get married?
Hill: I'll list these in the order of most likelihood.
2: Rockies win the World Series
|Opening Day 2018|