Loaded with talent, passion, and a drive to succeed, the 2017 Boise Hawks kept fans at Memorial Stadium on the edge of their seats for every game this summer.
Even when the Hawks seemed to be out of games, they always hinted a comeback effort. In the three years of being affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, the 2017 roster turned out to be one of the most talented squads to play at Memorial Stadium. The Rockies enjoyed a successful 2017 MLB Draft and sent many talented players to Boise, including pitchers Pearson McMahan and Nick Kennedy. They were drafted in the 4th and 5th rounds, respectfully.
The talented pitching combined with rookie sluggers Daniel Jipping, Danny Edgeworth, Matt McLaughlin, Bret Boswell, and Sean Bouchard to create a powerful middle of the Hawks lineup. Even though the rookies shined in the second half of the season, the Hawks relied on many veterans at the start of the year to get them on the right track. In their first year with the Rockies organization, infielders Ryan Metzler and Avery Romero, outfielder J.B. Moss and also catcher Sam Tidaback gave Boise the leadership that they were looking for to help transition their young players.
Romero provided an immediate spark for the Hawks on June 20th. Opening day at Memorial Stadium featured Romero hitting a walk-off single for the Hawks to beat the Eugene Emeralds 7-6. Shortly after, Romero was called up to Lancaster. The same was true for Metzler after he played in 33 games with the Hawks with three home runs and 15 RBI. Metzler was called up to Asheville.
Moss and Tidaback stayed with the team all season. Both second year players with their second professional team, they were able to blend in well with the Rockies young draftees. Tidaback was injured midseason but still finished the year with a .283 average, three home runs and eight RBI. He hit a grand slam against Vancouver on July 10.
Moss finished the year with seven home runs, but they were by no means ordinary. Moss hit at least one normal home run, an inside-the-park home run, and a grand slam on the season. The inside-the-parker came on July 4 in Eugene. The Hawks and Emeralds played a 20 inning game that went until 1:30 AM. In what seemed like a never ending affair, Moss came to the plate in the top of the 20th inning. The former Texas A&M Aggie lined a ball out to left-center past Eugene's diving center-fielder. The ball got all the way to the wall and Aubrey McCarty scored. As Moss hustled around 3rd, manager Scott Little gave him then green light. He scored the eventual game winning run. The Hawks won the game 7-5.
The group that Boise featured this season always loved to have fun. That was evident with the Gatorade showers for players who were interviewed on the field after every home game. Also, Boise won on three walk-offs this season. The Romero walk-off single was the only one of the second half. The other two came in the same series.
In a crucial middle of August series against the Everett AquaSox, Boise knew they needed to win the series going into a 15-game road trip after the series finished up.
On August 12th in game two of the series, the Hawks were down 6-0 at the end of the top of the 1st inning, it looked to be over. Boise had absolutely no momentum and it looked to be a blowout win for the Everett AquaSox. But the Hawks began to chip away. They took it to extras after scoring eight runs in innings 6-9. In the bottom of the 11th, Moss came to the plate. He drove in Luis Castro and the Hawks walked away with the 11-10 win.
Three nights later, Boise got Everett again on a walk-off. This time, it was the AquaSox who made the mistake. In the bottom of the 11th again, Austin Bernard stepped in. He dribbled a ball to the shortstop Johnny Adams. On what seemed like a routine play, the throw to first got away and Boise took the win 5-4 after Jipping scored on the error.
Excitement filled the 2017 season for the Boise Hawks. Despite missing the playoffs, the Hawks were closer to playing playoff baseball as a Colorado Rockies affiliate than ever before. They only missed it by one game. In final series, they needed to sweep the Hillsboro Hops. They won two out three games and Eugene passed them to take the second playoff spot. Boise finished the year with a 37-39 overall record.
Even though playoff baseball will not be played in Boise this year, Hawks fans, players, coaches, and staff have taken countless positives out of 2017. Going into next season, the Rockies have stockpiled their minor league system with talent and there will surely be many more thrilling moments at Memorial Stadium in 2018.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.