OREM Thanks to the Ogden Raptors and some nasty weather, the Orem Owlz went to bed Saturday night once again on top in the Southern Division of the Pioneer League.
After being swept at Brent Brown Ballpark by the Casper Ghosts in a brief two-game series Thursday and Friday, the Owlz headed into their two-game series with the Idaho Falls Chukars needing to most likely take both games in order to keep their first-half title hopes alive.
Not only that, they also needed the Raptors to help them out by defeating the Ghosts. The Ghosts and Raptors were scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday in order to make up a game between the two teams that was rained out on July 6.
The Owlz' game Saturday night was suspended in the fifth inning as heavy winds and rain ripped through Utah County with the Owlz trailing 4-3. The game will be resumed this afternoon at 3 p.m. as part of a doubleheader.
Up in Ogden, the Ghosts dropped both games of their doubleheader, allowing the Owlz to retake a half-game lead in the division.
Ogden won the first game 8-3 and then took the second 2-1 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh by Travis Vetters.
The Owlz can now clinch the first-half title by winning both games of their doubleheader this afternoon.
The Owlz struck first blood Saturday night, getting a run in the top of the first on an RBI single to left by Gabe Jacobo scored Darwin Perez from third. Perez had led off the game with a walk, stolen second and ended up taking third when Chukars catcher Sean McCauley's attempt to throw him out sailed into center field.
The Owlz remained ahead 1-0 until the top of the fourth when the Chukars took advantage of some Owlz' mistakes en route to a four-run inning.
Antonio Jimenez led off with a four-pitch walk and then moved to second one batter later when Shawn Griffin, who has hit safely in 13 of his last 23 at-bats, sent a routine grounder to Ivan Contreras at second. The grounder skipped off Contreras' glove and into shallow right field. McCauley came up next and laced a double into the gap, scoring Jimenez and sending Owlz starter Buddy Boshers to the showers.
Chris Scholl came in to put out the fire, but not before three more runs had scored. Carlo Testa put the icing on the cake for the Chukars with a two-run, inside-the-park homer that sailed over the head of center fielder Rian Kiniry. After chasing the ball down, Kiniry slipped and fell on the warning track, allowing Testa to score.
The Owlz responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth, this time taking advantage of some Chukars' mistakes.
Jacobo led off with a single and then moved to second on a wild pitch. Luis Jimenez came up next and grounded one up the middle, forcing Chukars second baseman Alwin Perez to backhand the ball and throw back across his body. His attempt sailed into the Chukars' dugout, Jacobo scored and Jimenez wound up at second. After a fly out sent Jimenez to third, Chukars starter Brandon Sisk uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning, allowing Jimenez to score the Owlz' third run.
Because the game will need to be resumed this afternoon, the second game of the doubleheader will be shortened to seven innings.