Without starting pitcher Baron Short, it's hard to imagine the Orem Owlz leading the Pioneer League South.
But with Short pitching Monday night against the Billings Mustangs, it's hard to imagine the Owlz even had a chance.
Short lasted just two innings, allowing nine runs and 10 hits as the Mustangs avenged Sunday afternoon's 17-5 loss, blowing out the Owlz 16-6.
One of Short's main problems Monday night was his inability to get ahead. He threw first-pitch balls to each of the first eight batters he faced. Of the 16 batters he faced all evening, he got ahead 0-1 to just four.
"He didn't have his good stuff," Owlz manager Tom Kotchman said. "(The Mustangs) are a good hitting ball club, and he probably didn't mix his pitches well."
Short faced seven batters in the first, six in the second and just three in the third before being pulled. When he left in the third inning, he did so with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Steven Geltz, who has struggled so far this season with an ERA of 7.50 in six innings of work, didn't prove to be much more effective, allowing singles to the first three batters he faced to increase the Mustangs lead to 10-1.
Then, just for the icing on the cake, Mustangs second baseman Alex Buchholz slugged a grand slam over the left centerfield fence. The homer was just Buchholz's second of the season.
Geltz pitched just two innings in relief and allowed six runs on seven hits.
The Owlz tried their hardest to fight back, scoring one in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth. But it wasn't nearly enough.
Leonardo Astorga started for the Mustangs and pitched five innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits. Astorga entered the game with a 2.21 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.
Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the second, the Owlz got on the scoreboard when a bloop single to center by Angel Castillo scored Gabe Jacobo from third. The Owlz had Luis Jimenez on third with nobody out in the same inning, but couldn't push him across.
After the Mustangs erupted for seven more in the third, the Owlz got two back on a two-run home run by Gabe Jacobo, his second homer in as many games.
The Owlz got their next three runs in the fourth thanks to two fielding errors by the Mustangs.
Chris Scholl, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2008 draft out of Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., pitched three innings for the Owlz and allowed just one hit to keep the Mustangs from increasing their lead any more.
"His tempo was really good, which is what you need in a game like that," Kotchman said. "It was starting to drag."
Right-hander Jeremy Thorne also pitched well for the Owlz going the final two innings and allowing just two hits while striking out three.
The Owlz now head on the road for a seven-game road trip against Great Falls and Billings.