OREM When a team leads the league in hitting, they're probably pretty accustomed to filling the scoreboard with some crooked numbers.
But Sunday afternoon at Brent Brown Ballpark, the Orem Owlz may have outdone even themselves.
Darwin Perez and Gabe Jacobo each collected a pair of hits, Luis Jimenez clubbed a three-run homer and Orem sent 14 men to the plate in a nine-run first inning as the Owlz (19-7) demolished the Billings Mustangs (15-11) 17-5.
The Owlz finished the game with a season-high 19 hits, surpassing the previous mark of 15. The 17 runs also set a season record, besting the previous high of 13.
"It's just one of them games," Owlz manager Tom Kotchman said after the dust finally settled. "You can just about bet tomorrow's game will be 3-2 or 4-2. When you make contact, funny things happen."
Roberto Lopez, who had his 23-game hitting streak snapped in Saturday night's loss, led the way for the Owlz on Sunday, finishing 4-for-5 with a double, one run scored and three RBIs. Perez, Jacobo and catcher Ivan Villaescusa each collected three hits.
Mustangs starter Clayton Shunick began the game on a positive note, striking out Owlz center fielder Rian Kiniry on three pitches. But that was the best thing to happen to Shunick all afternoon.
Perez came up next and laced the first pitch he saw into center field.
He moved to second four pitches later after Lopez was hit by a pitch and then scored on an RBI single by Jacobo. Both Lopez and Jacobo scored after third baseman Luis Jimenez clubbed the first pitch he saw over the left-center field wall, giving the Owlz a 4-0 lead. Right fielder Angel Castillo flew out to center field for the second out of the inning, but that was the last out Shunick would record. The Owlz tacked on four more runs and four more hits before Shunick was mercifully pulled with Perez on third and Lopez on first. Justin Freeman came in to get the final out, but not before allowing Perez to score on an infield single by Jacobo.
The Owlz continued their hitting parade with four runs in the second on an RBI single by Villaescusa, an RBI groundout by Perez and a two-RBI double by Lopez.
Although the second inning was critical in terms of keeping the momentum going, it was the top of the second, where the Mustangs got a pair of hits but were unable to score, that Kotchman emphasized afterwards.
"The biggest thing is putting up a zero (the next inning)," Kotchman said.
Dwayne Bailey punched a two-RBI double down the right field line in the third and Jacobo slugged a two-run homer in the sixth to finish the scoring for the Owlz.
"I was sitting on a fastball and he threw me a fastball," Jacobo said.
The Mustangs scored two in the fourth, two in the eighth and one in the ninth.
Jose Perez got the start for the Owlz, going six innings and allowing two runs, both earned, and eight hits while walking one and striking out seven.
Mustangs manager Julio Garcia chalked up Sunday's effort as just one of those games that happens to every team no matter what.
"You have to or it's going to kill you," Garcia said. "Everything was going against us today."
The win for the Owlz sets up a rubber match tonight at 7:05 p.m. The Owlz have only dropped one series all year, a three-game sweep at the hands of the Casper Ghosts at the end of June.