By Jonathan Boldt
Assistant Sports Editor
Fall signifies many things, the end of summer, the transition to winter, and baseball. It’s a time where the boys of summer make the final push towards the fall classic and their ultimate goal of winning a championship.
Reggie Jackson is remembered as Mr. October for leading the Yankees to greatness during this transitional season.
As the Orem Owlz go into this weekends playoff series against their I-15 rival Ogden Raptors, they will be looking for a Mr. September to lead them to their fifth Pioneer League title in the last ten years.
It won’t be first-round pick CJ Cron. He has the potential to become that someday, maybe even right now, but his dislocated knee cap had the final say in that.
It may turn out to be second baseman Taylor Lindsey. He won the league’s most valuable player award, hit for the cycle, and on Thursday night he came one home run short of doing it again.
A good candidate would be “do-it-all” Jerod Yakubik. Jackson is remembered as Mr. October due in large part to his game-changing home runs. Yakubik only hit one all year. But it did come in a game where he hit for the cycle and the home run broke a ten all tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. That run was the last Orem would score and the only one they would need to pull out the win.
“Yakubik is so good at a lot of things,” Kotchman said. “Most of all he plays hard and he plays the right way. It rubs off on the other guys and he makes them better.”
Could it be a pitcher? Another Yankee, Mariano Rivera has taken the reigns as the dominant pitching presence of the decade. Pitching has been the Owlz Achilles heel this season.
Aaron Meade as a top candidate to lead the pitching staff this season. He has been dominant for a few innings before falling apart and giving up several runs at a time. He had since settled in as a relief pitcher until Thursday night when he was called upon to start once again. He promptly turned everything on its head and pitched five scoreless innings getting the win.
Speaking of pitchers, third-round pick Nick Morande will get the first crack against Ogden in the Owlz first-round series. Austin Wood joined the team just recently and he throws close to 100 mph. He won’t get a chance to show his wares, however, until later on in the playoffs.
“Wood throws close to 97, 98 miles per hour,” Kotchman said. “He won’t pitch anytime soon though. If he does, it will be in the next series if we are fortunate enough to get there.”
While there may not be a stand-out slugger that can hit out of the park at will, Kotchman has a full cupboard of skill players at his disposal. They take their league leading record, league MVP, three All-Stars, four All-Star honorable mentions, and the leading vote-getter for Manager of the Year into the playoffs Friday night.
Unbelievably, the Owlz also boast the top three batters in the league. Yakubik won the league batting title, but was closely followed by Lindsey and Frazier Hall.
“I did not know they were that close,” Kotchman admitted. “You don’t see two guys do it let alone three. That’s amazing.”
The Owlz have treated fans to a memorable season so far. All that’s left is the playoffs.
“Now the real season begins,” Kotchman said.
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at [email protected]
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