Owlz crowned Pioneer League champions

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For the fourth time in six years, the Orem Owlz are the Pioneer League champions.

The Owlz rebounded from a series opening loss to the Missoula Osprey by winning the next two games to ensure another championship for Tom Kotchman’s squad.

After a mediocre start to the season, the Owlz caught fire winning 31 of their last 38 games.

“The whole second half was so weird because probably our best prospect breaks his finger, then we go on a 15-game winning streak,” Kotchman said after the series. “That’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in my life.”

The series got off to a tough start for Orem as they dropped a heartbreaker to Missoula in Game one at home.

The Owlz led by a score of 5-1 after seven innings of play. But the Osprey scored six runs in the last two innings, including a two-out, three-run homer over the right field wall by Bobby Stone as Missoula stole Game 1 of the series.

But when the series shifted to Missoula, so did the momentum for the Owlz.

In Game 2, Stephen Locke pitched a complete game shutout and Carlos Ramirez went 5-for-5 with three RBIs as Orem crushed the Osprey 10-0 in Missoula to even the series at 1-1.

Locke scattered four hits and had five strikeouts as he became the first Owlz pitcher ever to pitch a complete game in the postseason.

Ramirez led a balanced offensive attack for the Owlz as he blasted two home runs and recorded two doubles in the blowout win.

In the third and decisive game, Casey Haerther exploded at the plate going 4-for-5 with a home run and seven RBIs to lead the Owlz to a 13-10 victory and the Pioneer League Championship.

Haerther, who also homered in Game two, slammed a three-run shot over the right field fence in the first inning and lined a three-run double again in the fifth inning to lead a potent Orem offense.

The Owlz finished the season leading the league in batting average and runs scored. Orem also recorded the best pitching in the league posting the lowest ERA and walking the fewest batters.