OREM In an unfamiliar position, the Orem Owlz found themselves with their backs against the wall facing an elimination game in the Pioneer League Championship Series. Having lost Game 1 to the Great Falls Voyagers, the Owlz relied on their pitching and a never-say-die attitude to prolong their season, escaping with a 3-2 victory in 13 innings.
It was league MVP Roberto Lopez who came through in the clutch with an RBI single to right that saw third baseman Jon Towmsend slide under the tag at home to seal the win and force a decisive Game 3.
"When it mattered he came through for us," said Owlz hitting coach Brent Del Chiaro of Lopez's game-winning hit. "That's why he's the league MVP."
After a night of electric pitching the Voyagers struck first in the top of the sixth after designated hitter Tyler Kuhn reached on an error and later scored on a single to left field by catcher Mike Grace. The early run gave Great Falls some breathing room as the Orem offense continued to struggle.
Orem rallied in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a triple and two errors that put runners on first and second with no outs. Voyager pitcher Kevin Skogley walked Tyson Auer to load the bases, but Orem couldn't tie the game when a failed suicide squeeze saw Luiz Jimenez tossed out of the game by the umpire after colliding with Grace at the plate. The ump's decision to eject Jimenez not only stymied the rally, but also left a gaping hole in the Owlz lineup without their designated hitter.
Down a run Auer drew a free pass to lead off the ninth for Orem to represent the tying run, but pinch hitter Alex Silversmith failed to bunt him into scoring position. However, Townsend laced a double into the gap scoring Auer giving the Owlz new life. Two walks by closer Dan Remenowsky loaded the bases for Lopez, but a fly out to right sent the game to extra frames.
Both teams brought a run across in the 11th a solo blast by Grace for Great Falls, and a RBI double by catcher Beau Brooks for Orem knotted the score at 2-2 heading into the 12th inning.
"We're moving onto play another day," Del Chiaro said. "It was a great game and our kids just didn't quit."