Hawks Take Postseason Opener

Pawelek pitches well

Entering the Northwest League Championship Series on Thursday night, the Class Low-A Boise Hawks knew what the records were. They knew their opponent, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, won a league-best 55 games and had gone 8-2 against them in head-to-head play earlier this season.

But that was then and this was now.

Behind a solid pitching performance by Mark Pawelek, and three hits apiece from 2006 first-round draft pick Tyler Colvin and first baseman Russ Canzler (who hit his league-best 17th home run), the Hawks topped the Giants' affiliate, 5-1, in the opener of the best-of-five series.

"It was definitely a big win for us," said Hawks center fielder Matt Camp. "Going into the game, we knew it was going to be tough because they'd beaten us more than we had beaten them. We had to play hard and do our best. It was a big win to get under our belts."

Camp finished 0-for-3 atop the Hawks' lineup, but led the Northwest League with 87 hits in the regular season. He batted .289 in 74 games.

Boise countered the Volcanoes with two left-handers in the series opener. Pawelek threw 6 2/3 shutout innings for his longest outing of the year, and Jeremy Papelbon closed things out with 2 1/3 innings in relief.

Papelbon, the Cubs' 19th-round pick from North Florida this past June, served up a run (unearned) with no hits allowed and only one walk.

Pawelek, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in last year's draft, scattered just three hits and three walks to 25 batters faced and had his best outing of the season.

"He went after hitters like he knew he could," Camp said of Pawelek. "We really needed him. He did an unbelievable job."

Camp said Pawelek was consistently throwing his fastball for strikes and was topping out in the low 90s at "about 93."

"He was throwing his fastball and jumping ahead with it," Camp said. "He's got good velocity with good movement on it and was was able to mix the curveball in every once in awhile to mix it up."

Pawelek went 3-5 with a 2.51 ERA and 52 strikeouts to 23 walks in 61 innings during the regular season.

Game two of the series is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. MDT in Boise. It will be the Hawks' final home game of 2006, as afterward the series shifts to Oregon for the series' remaining three games (if necessary).

Flame-throwing right-hander Jose Ceda, acquired in the trade that sent Todd Walker to the Padres on July 31, will toe the rubber for the Hawks Friday. Rising Giants prospect Adam Cowart is scheduled to start for Salem-Keizer. Cowart is 10-1 with a league-best 1.08 ERA in 15 starts.

Camp says the Hawks' game plan shouldn't change much despite facing the league's consensus top pitcher.

"Our game plan is the same as always: get runners on and move them over and try to get the early lead," he said. "Hopefully our pitching will step up again tonight. If we score some runs for them, we'll be all right."

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