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T'Jacks seize division lead

Sweep past Boise Hawks in home opener

Northwest League division leaders three games into the season locked up on Monday night at Miles Field.

When it was over, the Southern Oregon Timberjacks owned the outright South Division lead and the best record in the NWL.

The Timberjacks got five strong innings from starting pitcher Shane Bazzell and solid relief from Jason Pomar and Bryan Mazur in a 4-2 win over the Boise Hawks.

The home-opener attracted a crowd of 1,849.

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— Scott Carle and his son, Ryan, — await the game's first pitch. — —

Left fielder Matt Forbes collected three of the Timberjacks' six hits, including a run-scoring triple in the third inning and a two-run home run in the fifth, to carry Southern Oregon on a pitchers' night.

We had Matt Forbes step up for us, and our pitchers were great, said Southern Oregon manager Greg Sparks. Matt is a very deceiving kid as a hitter.

He has a very quick bat and he's strong. He can hit a ball a long ways real fast.

I'm very pleased with our pitching overall so far, said Sparks. We have good quality and good depth.

But, as Sparks points out, a long season is ahead.

I'm happy with 4-and-0, but we have a lot of things to work on, he said. We'd be approaching things the same way if we were 0-and- 4. Because this is a learning experience for these kids.

But I'll have to admit, Sparks said, I'll sleep better at 4-and-0 than I would at 0-and- 4.

Bazzell, a second-year pitcher who spent last season in the Arizona rookie league after a record -setting prep career in Mississippi, allowed just five hits in five innings. He struck out five batters and walked one.

It was exciting, said Bazzell of his first start for the Timberjacks. I was pumped up, but not nervous.

I hit 92 miles per hour tonight (with his fastball), and I kept my fastball down pretty well. I didn't throw a curveball for two innings. But then, I found my splitty (split-fingered fastball) and that helped.

Bazzell, who was on a pitch count in his first outing, threw 67 pitches in five innings before being taken out after the fifth inning with a 2-1 lead.

I wasn't tired at all, he said. I wanted to go longer.

Said Sparks: All our pitchers are on pitch counts this early. That's how it works. But I do like a guy who wants the ball and doesn't want to come out. It was a good outing for Shane.

Forbes increased his four-game batting average to .421 (8 for 19) with his 3-for-4 performance. He said he hit a fastball belt high over the center-field fence for his home run. He has six runs batted in, two triples and a homer.

I was trying to do a little too much in my first three games (last weekend in Eugene), but I felt I settled down and relaxed real well as the plate, said Forbes. I'm happy with my start.

Carlos Rosario of the Timberjacks reached first base on an error and later scored on Forbes' triple in the third. Gerald Laird singled in the fifth and scored on the homer by Forbes.

The Timberjacks took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a single by Forbes, a stolen base and a double by Jeremy Schied.

Mazur picked up his first save in his second pitching appearance of the season. Three different Southern Oregon pitchers have saves in the opening three games.

Micheal O'Keefe singled in a run for the Hawks in the second inning and Scott Bikowski had a run- scoring double in the seventh.

Southern Oregon and Boise will meet tonight in game two of the series at Miles Field. Game time is 7 p.m.

TJ Matt Howe (18) is caught in a rundown by Boise's Tim Boeth (5) and Gary Johnson (28). - By RANDY HAMMERICKSEN