OREM Finding a way to get the critical hit at the critical time has not been something the Orem Owlz' have had to worry about through their first 20 games in 2008.
But Tuesday night against the Great Falls Voyagers, it was.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Owlz' second baseman Ivan Contreras came up with the bases loaded and two out. Four pitches later, he was walking back to the dugout after striking out.
With the score still 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Owlz' had yet another opportunity to take the lead, this time with runners on first and third and just one out and first baseman Gabe Jacobo coming up. One pitch later, the Voyagers were trekking off the field once again after a 4-6-3 double play.
The Voyagers (14-7) tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth and another one just for good measure in the ninth to defeat the Owlz (15-6) 7-3 at Brent Brown Ballpark.
Not wanting to put the blame completely on Contreras and Jacobo, Kotchman went a different direction after the game.
"Sometimes you just tip your cap to the pitcher," he said. "They had a better pitcher tonight."
Kevin Skogley started for the Voyagers and pitched six innings to get the win, moving his record to 2-1 on the season. Skogley allowed just two earned runs while scattering six hits. Including tonight's performance, Skogley's earned run average on the season is now 2.73.
"He set the tone for the whole game," Kotchman said. "You can see why he's got great numbers."
Usually reliable Jose Lopez started for the Owlz but struggled, failing to make it out of the fourth inning. Lopez allowed four runs, all earned, and eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
The Owlz started off solid, scoring a run in the first and another in the second to take a 2-0 advantage. The lead didn't last long though as the Voyagers scored one in the third and three in the fourth to take a 4-3 advantage. All three of the Voyagers' fourth-inning runs came with two outs after three consecutive RBI doubles by Danny Jordan, Lee Fischer and Tyler Kuhn.
The season may still be young, but Voyagers' manager Chris Cron wasn't understating the victory at all. Heading into the game, the Voyagers were on a three-game winning streak and tied for first in the Northern Division of the Pioneer League.
"Anytime you beat a team that's won 15 of their first 20, you're doing something right," Cron said.