Because of Tuesday's victory, the South Bend Silver Hawks will make the playoffs for the sixth straight
season and enter the postseason as Eastern Division Champions for the second
time in four seasons.
The Silver Hawks lost their first nine games of the season and struggled to a
19-30 start before catching fire at the end of May. All season long,
manager Mark Haley has been preaching keeping an even keel to a team that has
experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
"In this game, you're never as bad as you think you are, and you're never as
good as you think you are," cautioned Haley. "What you do in April isn't nearly as important as what you do in August.
That's what's fun about Low-A ball, and why I love it so much. Because you
watch them go from this infantile stage and they blossom into this wonderful
In addition to improvements from players that have been with the squad all
year, the Silver Hawks received a boost from several players from this year's
draft. Daniel Schlereth, the organization's first-round selection,
recorded his first professional victory in this clinching win.
Fort Wayne starter Jeremy Hefner had n-hit the Hawks through 6 innings, then
was relieved by Colt Hynes. Suddenly, the Silver Hawk offense came alive, rapping out
seven hits and plating six runs against Hynes and two other Wizard relievers. Jo Jo Batten, who
played with the Hawks ever so briefly in 2006, was the star of the offense,
going 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Pitching-wise, starter Thomas Layne mostly pitched out of trouble for four
innings, though his leadoff walk to Justin Baum in the second did cross home
plate. The bullpen took over from there, with Bryan Henry, Daniel Schlereth, and Jeff Dietz combining to fan 10 Wizards in five innings
and allow just two base runners, neither of whom scored.
Henry extended his personal scoreless innings streak to 14.1, or 15.1
counting the final inning of his August 3rd spot start. Jeff Dietz has now
gone 6.0 innings without allowing a hit and 9.2 without allowing an earned run.
These are just two examples among many of a bullpen doing a magnificent job late
in the season. South Bend's starters were workhorses earlier
in the season, keeping the bullpen arms fresh and rested.
"Pitching's been the key to our turnaround," explained Haley. "[The
starters] have gone deep into games so much that the bullpen wasn't getting enough
work," he quipped.
Haley then instituted a strict five-inning limit to all
of his starters, and the bullpen has responded by shutting down the opposition
for the final four-plus frames in most games. To become Midwest League
champions as they were back in 2005, however, they will need all facets of the
team clicking, not just the bullpen.
"We've got a great coaching staff, and we work hard on preparing them
everyday," Haley said. "That's part of development. When it comes
down to August and September, you've got to reach down and find something,
because that's how you win championships. And they will."
Send questions or
comments for Keith Glab to
Are you a full member of
FutureBacks.com? If not, then you are missing out on the top
Diamondbacks coverage we provide to our premium members, as well as full
access to over 400 other Scout.com sites.
Join us today!