The Orem Owlz weak spot this year has been starting pitching. Tonight Ryan Crowley put those fears to bed, giving up two hits in 5.2 scoreless innings as Orem won a close one 4-3 against the Helena Brewers.
“He really knows how to pitch,” manager Tom Kotchman said. “His stuff is good enough to keep you honest and he really gets after it.”
As dominant as Crowley was tonight, he gave credit to his teammates.
“It’s awesome having guys making diving plays all around you,” Crowley said. “All the credit [goes] to them as much as to me. They’re great and I love them.”
Crowley’s humility doesn’t change what Kotchman thinks of him. Crowley has settled into a role that has been virtually vacant this year.
“He’s one of the starters that goes in your reliable category right now,” Kotchman said.
Orem crept one step closer to reaching the playoffs Friday night. They are one win and an Idaho Falls loss away from clinching at least a wild card berth. That would only come into play if Ogden were to come back and win the second half of the season.
With the win, Orem remains five games ahead of Ogden, leaving their playoff fate in their own hands.
Ryan Jones hit things off with his 12th home-run of the year, giving Orem the early lead. In the third inning Frazier Hall scored Taylor Lindsey on a slow rolling ground-out. Fresh off rehabbing an injured hand, catcher Abel Baker lined an RBI single into right center, scoring Jerod Yakubik.
The Owlz would only score one more run in the fifth, when Kaleb Cowert singled in Hall.
Orem had yet to record a shutout this season, the only team in the league not to do so. The Owlz had a 4-0 lead heading into the ninth inning, already the first time they had made it past the seventh inning while holding their opponent scoreless.
A leadoff Brewers double led to a ground-out RBI, spoiling Orem’s shutout. After a single, the next batter drove a ball all the way to the wall in right. A home-run would have tied it, but Yakubik was able to keep it in the park and hold the batter to a double.
The next batter would ground out, giving Crowley the win and closer Danny Reynolds the save.
“You always learn more from a win,” Kotchman said. “Those losses you give away don’t feel good. Your food doesn’t taste as good, your wife doesn’t look as good. Even if she’s a ten, she looks like an eight, so it’s good to pull one out like that.”
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jboldt24.