Hawks flex muscle, clinch division title

Cubs affiliate captures Northwest League second-half crown

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | August 25, 2012 11:06 PM ET

The Boise Hawks won again on Saturday the way they have many times this season. This particular victory, however, locked up a playoff berth.

Jeimer Candelario collected three hits and three RBIs as Boise clinched the Northwest League East Division second-half title with an 8-6 triumph at Vancouver.

The Hawks (21-11) lead the short-season league in batting (.277), slugging percentage (.426), OPS (.766) and runs (374), 19 more than second-place Everett.

It's an emphasis on those team numbers -- and not individual ones -- that has helped Boise come together in recent weeks, according to first baseman Daniel Vogelbach.

"I feel like everybody's gotten over the stats and caring about individual glory. We're focusing on the big picture, and that's winning," the Cubs' No. 14 prospect said. "Everybody picks each other up, plays well together. We're turning into a family and starting to play hard for each other."

Vogelbach, who was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI in the clincher, leads the team in slugging (.636). He's also tied with Rock Shoulders for the top spot with nine homers, going deep in five straight games earlier this month.

Candelario, Chicago's 15th-ranked prospect, leads the club with 42 RBIs, while shortstop Stephen Bruno is second in the league with a .345 batting average. Albert Amora, selected sixth overall in this year's Draft, joined the team on Aug. 15 and is hitting .318 with a homer and four RBIs in 10 games.

Tayler Scott has anchored Boise's rotation, going 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA that ranks fifth in the league. Jose Arias is 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA.

Hunter Ackerman (1-1) got the win in relief Saturday, yielding a run on two hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

Vogelbach said the squad was excited to clinch the division title but is more interested in making noise in the playoffs.

"We enjoyed [clinching], but that's not all we want to do. We don't want to just win the second half," he added. "We still have business to take care of. Everybody's excited, but we've got that unfinished business."

The Hawks will be making their 13th postseason appearance as they seek a seventh championship and first since 2004.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More