Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
Maybe the Boise Hawks should have stayed in Oregon. The Hawks’ home opener was spoiled last night when the stellar pitching of the first three games in Eugene gave way to shakiness from the get-go. The 14 2/3-inning scoreless streak strung together by Boise starters ended when Salem-Keizer plated two runs in the top of the first inning off 18-year-old Duane Underwood, and the Volcanoes went on to an 8-6 victory. S-K put together a 15-hit attack in the 3½-hour contest. Hawks leftfielder Trevor Gretzky, son of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, scored the team’s first run of the season at Memorial Stadium. Gretzky collected his first hit as a Hawk, a double that turned into three bases on a Salem-Keizer fielding error. He came across shortly thereafter on a groundout. The three-game series between the Hawks and Volcanoes continues tonight.
The Boise State football “opponent talk” on these pages usually revolves around Washington, Fresno State, BYU and San Diego State. Woe are us if we forget Utah State. The October 12 game in Logan will loom large with the Aggies coming off the best season in program history, an 11-2 record and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl victory. USU has 20 returning starters, 13 of them seniors, spurring Phil Steele to tab the Aggies as the second-most experienced team in college football this year. That definitely tempers the effect of coach Gary Andersen’s departure to Wisconsin. As does the promotion of the ebullient Matt Wells, who is 39 years old and looks 29.
This isn’t your old-fashioned new century trip to Romney Stadium. Utah State will be lying in wait after giving up 149 combined points to Boise State in the Broncos’ last three visits to the Cache Valley. The Aggies have won 16 of their last 19 games, with the losses coming by a combined six points. It’s an easy trip for Bronco fans—8,000 of them made the jaunt in 2007. But it could be a tough ticket this time around. Plan ahead.
The “Outside The Lines” segment taped this spring on former Boise State defensive end Joe O’Brien will air this Sunday morning on ESPN. O’Brien’s book “Busted Bronco,” co-written by Boise’s Bob Evancho, spawned the piece by reporter Steve Delsohn for the award-winning sports/public affairs program. Delsohn follows O’Brien’s quest to coach again nearly 10 years after his arrest and subsequent imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine while an assistant at Montana State. O’Brien finally landed a job as head coach at Simms High School about 25 miles west of Great Falls in a narrow 4-3 vote in February. In addition, an ESPN.com feature about O’Brien, in conjunction with ESPN The Magazine, will run later this summer.
The Statesman’s Brian Murphy reports that Boise State coach Leon Rice and Idaho coach Don Verlin will have their new contracts considered by the State Board of Education during meetings today and tomorrow in Twin Falls. Rice’s salary is slated to be $482,110 for the upcoming season, the first of a new five-year deal. The most interesting clause involves bonuses for the Bronco staff when a non-conference road game pays the program more than $50,000. Should be a triple-bonus if they can ever get those teams to come to Taco Bell Arena. Verlin, meanwhile, is set to make $156,832 in 2012-13, plus $60,000 in media payments.
Boise State guard Igor Hadziomerovic got a cup-of-coffee’s worth of playing time in the Sino-Australia Challenge, pitting the Australian national team, the Boomers, against China. The teams split the four games, with Hadziomerovic seeing action in the first two. He played 4½ minutes in the series opener and scored two points in a 61-55 Aussie loss, and got nine minutes and scored two more points in an 85-50 victory in Game 2. The Bronco junior-to-be did not score in the final two games. But any international experience is a good one for Hadziomerovic, who’s poised for a breakout season at BSU. He and Boise State teammate Anthony Drmic played for Australia’s U19 team at the FIBA Championships two years ago.
The Idaho Steelheads have released what’s called the “season-ending roster,” a list of 20 players from which the team can make qualifying offers for the 2013-14 season beginning July 1. Coach Brad Ralph can decide on up to eight guys to offer, and most of those will probably end up on the Steelies roster in the upcoming campaign. Among the official candidates are Kael Mouillierat, who spent most of last season in the AHL, and four of the club’s top five scorers, Justin Dowling,David deKastrozza, Austin Fyten and Matt Case. Scoring leader Austin Smith is not on the list.
Back to baseball—former Boise Hawk Tyler Colvin is finally back in the majors this season, and he’s been a positive force for the Colorado Rockies. After surprisingly being left off the Rockies 25-man roster to begin the season, Colvin got his callup from Triple-A 10 days ago, and in nine games since he’s hitting .269 (it was .304 until an 0-for-3 collar last night) with three home runs and nine RBI. He got his first start of 2013 a week ago today and belted a pair of two-run homers against the Washington Nationals. Colvin, who once hit six home runs over a five-game stretch for the Hawks in 2006, is—at last—into his fifth big league season.
This Day In Sports…June 18, 1963, 50 years ago today:
Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, comes off the canvas to stop Henry Cooper of Great Britain in the fifth round of their heavyweight bout in London. After the fight, Clay quipped that the reason he went down at the end of the fourth round was that he wanted to get a better look at Elizabeth Taylor, who was seated at ringside.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)