Owlz’ Kotchman trusting veterans on the mound

Before the start of the season, Orem Owlz manager Tom Kotchman reiterated the importance of pitching when it comes to the wins column.

Two games into the season, the 33-year coaching veteran has tipped his hand just enough to show one thing: he likes veterans on the rubber.

Monday’s home opener saw Aaron Meade get the starting nod. The result? Just over four innings, six strikeouts, and two bad pitches that resulted in two home runs and three runs.

Meade will start again Saturday on the road.

Tuesday it was Pil Joon Jang’s turn. Orem faithful will remember Jang from last year as a wiry youth who drove fans and coaching staff alike crazy with his inconsistency.

No more. Jang’s performance Tuesday was nothing short of magnificent, holding Casper to six scoreless innings, one hit, one walk, and 18 batters

Six straight innings of 1-2-3 defense had Jang packing his bags for Cedar Rapids less than 15 minutes after the game was over.

Today’s starter? Venezuelan Baudilio Lopez, a right-hander entering his fourth season in the Angels’ farm system.

If Lopez has improved as much as Meade and Jang have already shown, Kotchman may have answered the Owlz’ pitching issues less than a week into the season.

Tuesday notes: Brennan Gowens’ was superb defensively in Monday’s opener, but struggled at the plate as the leadoff man, going hitless in five tries.

Kotchman kept Gowens at center field Tuesday, but moved him down to seventh in the batting order. The Fresno St. product promptly went 2-for-6.

Despite giving the Owlz a cushion they ended up needing with a 3-run home run Monday, Francis Larson was held out of the lineup Tuesday in favor of Abel Baker as Kotchman continues to test his new catcher rotation. Remember, catcher was a huge position problem last season, and Kotchman seems intent on fixing it sooner rather than later this year.

Larson looked on as Baker went 3-for-5 for 3 RBIs, though Baker didn’t have to make nearly as many plays as Larson did the night before thanks to Casper’s offensively challenged performance Tuesday night.

Speaking of lineup changes, the most productive of the night had to be inserting Brandon Brewer at shortstop in place of Trevor Hairgrove. Brewer keyed two double players in addition to several solo put-outs, making himself a huge factor in Jang’s shutout performance.

Brewer, a 21-year-old out of West Florida, also hit 3-for-5 and had two RBIs as Orem’s new leadoff man.

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