OREM After a 13-inning win kept the Owlz alive and up late in Game 2, their bats groggily failed to show up in Game 3 as the Great Falls Voyagers cruised to an 8-5 win to knock off the defending champs and claim the Pioneer League championship on Saturday night.
"Tough loss tonight," said Owlz hitting coach Brent Del Chiaro. "To get down early, and then to be able to battle back and come up short makes it hurt a little more."
In a second inning to forget for the Owlz, pitcher Buddy Boshers was hammered as the Voyagers put six runs on the board early. The rally started with a single by Kyle Shelton, who later scored off another single by catcher Zach Larson. The damage was done when Lee Fischer and Tyler Kuhn each doubled with runners on to extend the lead to 6-0.
Orem got one run back in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't do any better as it left the bases loaded on strikeouts by shortstop Darwin Perez and second baseman Ivan Contreras. The top of the third saw Great Falls add to its lead when Larson hit a solo home run towering over the foul pole in left.
Leading 7-1 and with the recent disappearing act of the Owlz offense, Great Falls coasted behind the superb pitching effort of starter Daniel Hudson and reliever Drew O'Neil, holding the most potent offense in the league at bay.
Great Falls tacked on another run in the fifth as outfielder Doug Thennis brought a run home on a fielder's choice out. In the bottom of the seventh, Orem manufactured a rally but again failed to make an impact on the scoreboard. With runners on the corners, first baseman Roberto Lopez flew out to right to end the threat.
Down to six outs, the Owlz brought the meat of their lineup to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. A single by Luis Jimenez led off the inning and an error by Fischer at second spoiled an attempt at a Voyager double play, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Centerfielder Tyson Auer loaded the bases with a single to left before angel Castillo was hit by a pitch, scoring Jimenez. Orem got three more in the inning, cutting the lead to 8-5.
The rally was all for naught as Voyager closer Daniel Albritton slammed the door on the Owlz season, striking out Donato Giavanatto for the third out as the Voyagers rushed the field to celebrate the win.
"We came out on the short end of the stick tonight," Del Chiaro said. "It was a tremendous honor to be a part of this team."