A very cool scene on the green

It was bad omen for the clear underdog in the Basque Soccer Friendly Saturday night. It was bad omen for Club Tijuana, the clear underdog in the Basque Soccer Friendly Saturday night, when Athletic Bilbao’s Artiz Aduriz scored in the third minute of the match. Athletic had the advantage in speed, and even size, and when it tallied again in the 22nd minute, the 2-0 lead felt like an insurmountable one on the temporarily green turf of Albertsons Stadium. Both teams made wholesale substitutions in the second half, and the rest of the game proved to be a standoff in Bilbao’s 2-0 victory. But it was a contentious one, as backups from both sides were jockeying for attention going into their respective team’s regular season.

The temperature at kickoff Saturday night was 83 degrees, a benefit to the crowd and the natural turf alike. I sat in the upper deck on the east side of the stadium—it was comfortable even there, especially with a consistent breeze going. The turf was as green as could be hoped for thanks to a week of scrupulous care; very few seams were visible from the original rolls of sod. It held up superbly over the 92 minutes of play, helped by an extra bath from firehoses at halftime.

The Basque Soccer Friendly was a success, with 21,948 fans attending in Albertsons Stadium. The momentum built as the match neared, and there were big lines at ticket windows an hour before kickoff. It was a great scene (beer lines notwithstanding), a celebration of all things Basque, and a good chunk of the crowd got into it with apparel (I even saw some old “Dave Bieter For Mayor” T-shirts). The numbers could have been much higher with a lower level of pricing available—say, $15 in the south corners of the upper deck. BSF organizers took a leap of faith in going into uncharted territory to create an historic event and no doubt learned a lot for next time (hopefully there will be a next time). Best case scenario, in my opinion: make the Basque Soccer Friendly an official part of Jailadi and hold it every five years

From the “where are they now?” file, well, he isn’t there yet. But Louisville hosted former Boise State defensive end Mat Boesen over the weekend. Boesen is now a candidate for the recruiting class of 2016 and is slated to play at Long Beach City College this season. He had 12 tackles, including three sacks, in eight games last season for the Broncos before off-field troubles sidetracked him and resulted in his dismissal from the team. Boesen also has offers from Baylor, TCU, Iowa State, Washington State and others. He’s also being pursued by Fresno State, and therein lies a sidebar. We’re into late July now, and the Bulldogs have just one commit for the 2016 class. Weird.

You can call Boise State’s Darian Thompson an NFL prospect, if you haven’t already. Thompson’s latest watch list appearance is a rather elite one—Boise State’s senior safety is on the docket for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. There are only 50 players on the list, and only one other nominee is from the Mountain West, star wide receiver Rashard Higgins of Colorado State. Thompson will be representing the Broncos, along with center Marcus Henry, at Mountain West Media Days next week in Las Vegas.

Perception is reality for Sun Belt coaches, and it’s up to Idaho now to change that. After three consecutive one-win seasons, the Vandals have been picked to finish last by the coaches in the 11-team conference as Sun Belt Media Day unfolds today at the Superdome in New Orleans. Coach Paul Petrino, going into his third year at the UI helm, will be joined by running back Elijhaa Penny and linebacker Matt Millan for the one-day blitz.

Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins guided Team USA to a 59-12 rout of Japan Saturday night in the gold medal game of the IFAF World Football Championship in Canton, OH. It became apparent as the Americans got on a roll that their competition in the tournament was not ready for prime time, witness their 82-0 win over France in the semifinals. Former Boise State cornerback and special teams standout Bryan Douglas led the U.S. in returns over the four games, taking back 11 punts for 151 yards and five kick offs for 137 yards. Douglas also contributed 5.5 tackles and a sack on defense.

We’ve seen a lot of meltdowns over the years at the Open Championship. Graham DeLaet experienced one today. DeLaet was one stroke clear of the cut line when the wind and rain-delayed second round finally wrapped up Saturday. Things got much better for the former Boise State star Sunday, when he carded a four-under 68 on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Today DeLaet was motoring along at one-under until hitting the wall on No. 16. He finished with a bogey, double-bogey and bogey to log a three-over 75. DeLaet will end up around 70th in his first major of the year. One other golf note: Chad Pfiefer, the Iraq war veteran and amputee who played in the Albertsons Boise Open a week and a half ago, finished ninth in the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe. Pfeifer finished fifth last year at the celebrity event.

Until Friday, the Boise Hawks had not won consecutive games all season. After a 4-3 victory gave them a three-game winning streak Saturday night, the Hawks were on the verge of another last night against Spokane. They had rallied from a 6-1 hole early and a 7-5 deficit in the seventh inning, putting up a four-spot to take a 10-9 lead. Then the ninth inning happened. Reliever Cristian Quintin, who has fallen on some hard times lately, allowed three Indians runs, and shell-shocked Boise went down in a 10-9 defeat. The loss nullified the Hawks’ seventh-inning heroics—a leadoff home run from Marcos Derkes, an RBI single from Carlos Herrera and a two-run double from Brian Mundell. The Hawks’ five-game series against Spokane continues tonight at Memorial Stadium.

Kyle Schwarber was called back up by the Cubs Friday and was thrown right into the starting lineup at catcher. It was his first time behind the plate in the majors, and he committed two errors, but one of them was a fluky catcher’s interference call. Overall the former Boise Hawk got high marks to go with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. The rest of the weekend saw Schwarber strike out twice in pinch-hit appearances. He’s still hitting .393, though, and will get another start at catcher tonight.

Destiny Slocum, the Mountain View High senior-to-be, arrived just in time for warm ups with Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Chekhov, Russia, Saturday. But she still got 15 minutes of floor time and scored two points in the Americans’ 72-57 win over Spain. Slocum, a late addition to the squad, played 10½ minutes versus China in an 88-62 win yesterday, going scoreless with a rebound and two assists. The U.S. plays its final preliminary round game tomorrow against Egypt but has already clinched the No. 1 seed in its group going into the round of 16.

This Day In Sports…July 20, 1965, 50 years ago today:

Mel Stottlemyre of the Yankees does something extremely rare for a pitcher. Not only does he hit a home run, he gets an inside-the-park homer in a 6-3 win over the Red Sox. But not only was it an inside-the-parker, it was an inside-the-park grand slam. Stottlemyre launched a shot over the head of centerfielder Jim Gosger and motored all the way home, clearing the bases. He was the first pitcher to accomplish the feat since 1910, and no hurler has done it since. By the way, Stottlemyre was also the winning pitcher, regaining his breath to throw a complete game.

(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.)