Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Orem Owlz base runner Alberto Rosario tries to break up the double play throw by Idaho Falls' Fernando Garcia on Thursday night.

OREM — Idaho Falls pitcher Luis Cota and catcher Sean McCauley ensured that the Chukars' Fourth of July weekend got off to a good start.

Cota quieted Orem's bats with a lights-out performance on fireworks night at Brent Brown Ballpark, tossing a five-inning four- hitter to lead Idaho Falls to a 7-1 victory over the Owlz Thursday.

It was Cota's first win of the season, improving to 1-1. Cota surrendered one unearned run, walked three and struck out six during his outing against the Pioneer League's top offensive club.

Speaking of offense, the light-hitting McCauley, who had a .167 batting average entering the contest, helped stake Cota to an early lead by smacking a three-run double in the top of the first. As it turned out, that's all the Chukars would need.

Idaho Falls padded its lead by exploding for four runs in the sixth to all but put the game out of reach.

In the sixth inning, McCauley doubled his pleasure by belting another double and scoring later. He finished 2-for-3 from the plate.

Idaho Falls' Alwin Perez collected a game-high three hits, and Fernando Garcia and Neder Severino had two hits apiece.

The Owlz, who remain in first place in the Pioneer League South Division, managed nine hits but could only push one run across the plate. Their first run came courtesy of an RBI single by Ryan Kiniry, who plated Dwayne Bailey.

Orem's Luis Jiminez appeared to belt a two-run home run down the left field line in the eighth inning off Ryan Morgan, but the home plate umpire ruled the hit foul. While the crowd booed, Owlz manager Tom Kotchman, who was standing in the third-base coaching box, threw his hands in disgust. The Chukars improved to 6-11 while the Owlz dropped to 12-5.

Thursday's game marked the second of back-to-back stellar pitching performances in this series. In Orem's 4-2 victory over the Chukars Wednesday night, Jose Perez allowed only two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. Perez fanned six Idaho Falls batters and walked just one.

The two teams will meet again tonight in Idaho Falls.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com