OREM Despite their torrid 10-1 Pioneer League start, the Orem Owlz suddenly find themselves tied atop the Southern Division standings.
After being swept Sunday in a twinbill and in the three-game weekend home series by the Casper Ghosts, the two teams are now tied for first with 10-4 records. The Ghosts used a seven-run first inning in Game 1 to coast to a 10-4 win and then rallied from a 4-0 deficit for a 7-4 victory in Game 2.
Walks by Owlz pitching were the kiss of death in Sunday's sweep by Casper. In the two seven-inning games, Orem's staff surrendered 10 free passes. Eight of those base runners eventually scored.
Also, for the second straight day, the Owlz failed to deliver the key hit in key situations. Orem stranded six runners in Game 1 and then wasted an 11-hit game in the night cap by stranding eight.
Orem also fell victim to the hot bat of Casper's Kane Simmons. The Ghosts' sweet-swinging designated hitter had a double, triple and four RBIs in Game 1, and then came back with a huge three-run triple in Game 2 for a seven RBI day.
The Ghosts took charge of Game 1 right from the opening pitch as their first seven batters reached base, with each scoring before Orem had even recorded an out.
Owlz starter Lou Green struggled from the get-go with his control by walking two of Casper's first three hitters. He paid the price when Simmons smacked a bases-clearing triple to deep center to put the Ghosts up 3-0. Chad Jacobsen then singled in Simmons, followed by Orlando Sandoval's three-run homer to left field two batters later.
After falling behind 7-0, however, Green did settle down and ended up going 5 2/3 in taking the loss. Orem briefly challenged Casper with three runs in the fifth on four consecutive two-out hits, highlighted by Gabe Jacobo's double and Luis Jimenez's triple. But Casper scored again in the sixth and seventh to put the game out of reach.
It appeared that Orem was going to reverse fortunes in Game 2 when the Owlz exploded for four quick runs in the first. Jacobo got things started with a line three-run shot over the left-field fence. Later in the frame Trevor Pippin singled in Braulio Pardo.
Casper whittled away one run in the third on an RBI single by Andy Goff. But the Ghost did their significant damage in the fourth when they posted a four-spot to take a 5-4 lead.
A hit batter and two walks by Orem reliever Chris Scholl loaded the bases. One run scored on James Sims' sacrifice fly that Orem's Roberto Lopez stabbed on a diving catch in the left-field gap. However, a two-out error by Orem shortstop Darwin Perez one batter later erased Lopez's fine catch.
Following the error, which again loaded the bases, Simmons laced an opposite-field fly off the left-center fence to clear the sacks and give Casper the lead for good.Next up for the Owlz is a three-game home series with the Idaho Falls Chukars that begins on Tuesday.