Saturday night’s showdown with the Casper Ghosts had a little bit of everything and then some. It took all the offense the Orem Owlz could muster, and an act of Nature to pull out a 11-10 victory, which catapulted Orem into sole possession of first place in the Pioneer League Southern Division.
The Owlz were trailing 8-5, in the middle of the fourth inning as a desert style sandstorm blew into Orem Owlz stadium, causing a 30 minute delay. 55 mph winds blew in dust and sand from a nearby construction site.
Post-storm play turned out to more than double their offensive output, as they out-scored Casper 6-5 in the second half of the game.
Was tonight’s game important? Just ask Owlz Manager Tom Kotchman.
“I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t big, you get guys like Jerod Yakubik and Ryan Jones playing their butts off and if kind of rubs off on the other guys,” Kotchaman said. “You get the whole rest of the year to pick your friends but it takes guys like them with a little something extra in their stomach that pushes the other guys to give a huge effort.”
Jerod Yakubik has been on fire as of late. He started the season with very little expectations, but has progressively become more and more integral to the success of the Owlz. Saturday night he became the second Owlz player to hit for the cycle this season.
He not only hit for the cycle, but he hit them in order. He started off with a single in the first, a walk in the third, a double in the fourth, a triple in the sixth, and capped it all off with a solo home-run in the bottom of the eighth.
Hitting in that order is statistically the hardest, and most rare accomplishment in any sport. The fairy-tale story came to full effect as he hit his first home-run of his professional career, putting the Owlz ahead 11-10, which proved to be the game winner.
“That’s the most important thing, getting the win is so much more satisfying than any personal stats. I just play hard and hope good things happen,” Yakubik said.
The Owlz came into the game tied with the Ghosts for first place, with the win, Orem has put themselves a full game ahead of Casper. Orem’s new addition to the bullpen, Nick Mutz, came into the game and shut the door on Casper.
“Nick did a great job, our pitching has been our biggest weakness and it’s huge to have a guy like Nick be able to come in and slam the door shut. We will have a couple of guys sign soon and that will be big for us, we need to have some extra arms in the bullpen,” Kotchman said.
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jboldt24