There is a saying that goes “offense wins games, but pitching wins championships.” The Orem Owlz has arguably the best offense in the Pioneer League but the worst pitching statistics. Despite low pitching statistics, the Owlz are finding ways to win games. It involves hitting the ball hard.
What looked like a dismal start for the Minor League team has turned into an offensive stride that has put the Owlz back into contention with the other teams of the Pioneer League. The Owlz started their season being able to pull off only one victory in their first nine games. They have come back to win 10 of their last 13 games and are within four of the league-leading Ogden of Ogden.
A huge part of this turnaround has to do with their offense. They are second in batting average with a .296 but lead the league in multiple categories including on-base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.489) and runs scored (169). In their last nine games they have scored at least 12 times, including one against Idaho Falls in which their offense exploded to score 20 runs. They also top their rivals in homeruns with rookie Wade Hinkle leading the way with six.
Head coach Tom Kotchman said when the season began if one had to pick between offenses and pitching, he’d “obviously” pick pitching because “pitching wins.”
The pitching has been able to do enough for the team, but with a 5.94 team ERA, one cannot say that the pitching has been winning the games for them.
They have allowed the most hits in their league and the second most runs as well. Starting pitcher Pat Lowery has a 0-2 record and is sporting a 12.60 ERA. Their most successful pitcher, Gabriel Perez, has a 3-1 record in four starts but still has a 5.30 ERA. In the three games Perez won, the Owlz averaged over 12 runs a game.
The way the Owlz are currently playing is enough to put them in contention. Although still early in the season, the Owlz are finding that to pick up the victories they need to better themselves. Head coach Kotchman knew early on that they were going to need the time to learn the game together. “It’s going to come down to how quick we can mesh together,” Kotchman said. “It’s the same as every year. Hopefully we get better as we go. We learn as we go and if we learn as we go, we should get better.”
They have gotten better after their less-than-stellar start, but their pitching still isn’t where it needs to be. The Owlz will continue to score runs, but it’s the opposing team runs that they need to control to have a chance in the future.