Considering how frequently Jeffrey Baez has been getting hits this season, it was only a matter of time before one of them made him a hero.
That one came on Tuesday as he delivered an RBI single in the 10th inning that gave Short-Season Boise a 4-3 win over Spokane. Baez went 3-for-6 and extended his hitting streak to a Northwest League season-high 18 games.
"I think he does a great job, and it's starting to show," Hawks manager Gary Van Tol told the (Idaho) Statesman last week. "I'm excited about his future."
The win lifted Boise (18-14) within a game of first-place Hillsboro in the South Division in the final week of the first half.
Baez, a 20-year-old outfielder, grounded out against Indians starter Richelson Pena in his first at-bat but went up the middle for a base knock in the third inning. Facing Pena again in the fifth, Baez poked one through the left side.
"The season is still young, but he's been working with a lot of hitting coaches and trying to get better discipline," assistant coach Guillermo Martinez told the newspaper.
After grounding out to strand runners on second and third in the sixth and lining into a rally-killing double play in the eighth, Baez got another chance in the 10th. Chesny Young led off the inning with a single and Mark Malave walked.
Charles White popped out to left fielder Saquan Johnson, but Young and Malave advanced on a balk by Jason Hoppe. Baez followed with a ground single through the left side to give Boise its third straight win.
Last week, Van Tol indicated that Baez is also improving in ways not apparent in box scores.
"Maturity and how to handle his emotions. ... That's probably the biggest thing we focus on with these young players," Van Tol told the Statesman.
Hawks starter Erick Leal allowed one run on two hits while striking out five over six innings for the Hawks. Sam Wilson (1-0) fanned five over two frames, giving up a run on one hit and two walks.
Marcus Greene was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Indians, who lead the North Division by two games.
Pena (4-1) threw five shutout innings, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out two.