OREM When the Casper Ghosts start getting runners on base, things can turn ugly real quickly.
Right now, nobody knows that better than the Orem Owlz.
With first place hanging in the balance Friday night at Brent Brown Ballpark, the Ghosts did what they've been doing against the Owlz all season long put on a hitting exhibition.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the fifth and Owlz starter Jose Perez laboring on the mound, the Ghosts put together four hits to score four runs.
The Ghosts went on to defeat the Owlz 7-5.
The victory was the Ghosts' fifth straight at Orem this season and allowed them to take a half-game lead in the southern division of the Pioneer League.
Owlz manager Tom Kotchman was visibly irritated after the game, slamming doors and leaving early.
"Talk to (the players) about what's been going on," Kotchman said. "I'm tired of making excuses for them."
Eliezer Mesa got things going for the Ghosts in the fifth inning with a single to left field. After Shane Lowe flied out to center for the first out, Alexander Feinberg reached on an infield single that also moved Mesa to second. Perez then walked Carlos Martinez to load the bases.
Kotchman went to the bullpen and brought in Michael Kohn to try to end the threat, but it didn't work.
Kohn, who has been solid for the Owlz in July with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings, walked the first batter he faced, Willin Rosario, to force in a run. Kiel Roling and Orlando Sandoval then laced back-to-back singles, putting the Ghosts up 5-1.
The Ghosts got two more in the top of the seventh, increasing the lead to 7-1.
Gabriel Jacobo, who hit two home runs against the Ghosts Thursday night, launched a three-run shot to left field in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit in half. With the blast, Jacobo has now homered in four consecutive home games.
But like his manager, Jacobo wasn't in a smiling mood.
"Casper came out with a lot of energy," Jacobo said. "We probably should have put up more runs earlier than the eighth and ninth innings. Too little too late."
The Owlz got their fifth run in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI groundout by Angel Castillo.
Matt Baugh started for the Ghosts and pitched into the eighth inning. He allowed four runs and nine hits, walking none and striking out one. And despite Jacobo's homer that chased him, Ghosts manager Tony Diaz was more than satisfied afterward.
"Baugh gave us everything he had," Diaz said. "He pitched ahead and made them put the ball in play. He came through for us."
Entering the eighth inning, Baugh had thrown just 73 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.
With a win, the Owlz would have taken a 1 1/2-game lead over the Ghosts with just two games remaining in the first half.
Now, they'll rely on the Ogden Raptors, who have three games coming up against the Ghosts, including a doubleheader this afternoon, to help them out.
If the Ghosts can win two of three from the Raptors, they'll clinch the first-half title and a berth in the Pioneer League playoffs in September, regardless of how the Owlz do in their final two games against Idaho Falls.
"We've turned into Ogden fans," Jacobo said.