Wednesday night’s game was a television highlight dream. Not because of the non-stop action, nor was it because of dramatic, last-inning heroics. The Orem Owlz 6-3 win over the Missoula Osprey was a casual fan’s, ten o’clock news gem, because it could all be summed up in a few plays.
After Missoula took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Owlz right fielder, Ryan Jones snuck a line drive just under the glove of the diving Osprey center fielder. The ball trickled it’s way all the way to the furthest recesses of the stadium, leading to an inside-the-park home run.
Orem jolted out to a 5-1 lead on an electrifying, two-out grand slam by shortstop Trevor Hairgrove in the bottom of the second inning. Those four runs proved to be the only runs needed for the victory.
“It feels pretty good to have the opportunity to do it,” Hairgrove said. “I got a 2-0 count and a pitch to hit, and it happened to go out.”
The Owlz have had a tendency to thrive in two-out situations this season. Tonight was no different. Manager Tom Kotchman definitely feels the dichotomy of having production in a tough spot and being in that spot in the first place.
“Two-out RBIs are just large, you shouldn’t have to depend on it, but we’ll take it. We’ll take it,” Kotchman said.
Missoula would put a couple of runs on the board, but the real damage was averted by third baseman Kaleb Cowart. In the bottom of the eighth with runners in scoring position, Cowart made a diving stab at a line drive just between third and short.
“Some guys catch the ball and then dive,” Kotchman said. “Kaleb’s was real. He’s an athlete, you saw it right there.”
Coming down the home stretch of the regular season and trying to make a playoff run, the Owlz appear to be gelling. Hairgrove credits team chemistry as a result of Orem’s recent success.
“It makes a huge difference,” Hairgrove said. “If you go out to just do a job it’s not going to be fun, and it’s a lot of fun to win. We all get along and have fun, we definitely feel like we have what it takes to make a run at a championship.”
Orem is now four games up on the Casper Ghosts, for the second half, southern division lead. They will play the Helena Brewers in a four game home stand before taking off on a road trip to Idaho Falls.