The Orem Owlz secured a playoff spot on Tuesday evening, but didn't realize they had done so until Wednesday afternoon.
Orem's unorthodox clinching of a Pioneer League postseason berth was the result of a bizarre series of events. On Tuesday evening, host Orem had a 5-2 lead over the Idaho Falls Chukars in the top of the sixth inning when the power went out at the ballpark (and much of the surrounding area). After a "darkness delay" of approximately one hour, the game was called. Then, after consulting with officials from both teams, the umpiring crew reached a decision that the contest would not count in the standings (the Chukars and Owlz do not play each other again in the regular season, so there is no opportunity for the two clubs to complete Tuesday's suspended contest).
However, this decision was overturned by the league office on Wednesday afternoon, as Rule 4:12 states in part:
"Any suspended game not completed prior to the last scheduled game between the two teams during the championship season shall become a called game. If such game becomes a called game and has progressed far enough to become a regulation game, and one team is ahead, the team that is ahead shall be declared the winner."
With the late-arriving victory, the Owlz clinched the second postseason berth in the Pioneer League's South Division. Orem finished with the second best overall record in the division behind Idaho Falls, which won the first-half title and is once again leading in the second half.
On Wednesday afternoon, bemused Owlz manager Tom Kotchman was still trying to piece together the events of the previous evening.
"It was just a weird night, that's all you can really say about it," he said. "We had Jordan Walden out on the mound for us, and he's got one of the best arms in the organization. But then we had a rain delay after the second inning, and after that stretched past 30 minutes or so I couldn't run him out there again. Not if I value my job, at least."
"So we put [reliever Jordan] Townes in the game and he took us into the sixth inning. Then the rain started again and -- boom -- there was a sound like a bomb exploded, and the lights went off everywhere around us. Not just the lights on the field like in Bull Durham or something ... the entire area was pitch black. The only light we had in the entire park came from the groundskeeping carts, so we were all huddled around those trying to figure out what to make of the situation."
"Never in my 28 years of doing this have I had to deal with something like that. But we're in the playoffs, and that's what matters. It's going to make the last three days of the regular season a lot easier, as I can give some of our guys a rest to make sure we're all sharp as we head to the postseason."
The Owlz (19-16) scored all five of their runs on Tuesday in the second inning. Donato Giovanatto laced a two-run triple before coming home to score on a wild pitch. After Anel De Los Santos and Efren Navarro, Jr. singled, Deandre Miller reached on a fielding error to load the bases. Andrew Romine then stroked an RBI single, and Jay Brossman followed with a sacrifice fly.
Clint Robinson's two-run double in the fourth inning accounted for the only runs the Chukars (21-14) would score in the ballgame.
Towns (6-3) earned the win, allowing two runs on four hits over three innings. Walden hurled two perfect frames before having his night ended by the rain delay.
Ben Norton (1-6) took the loss, allowing five runs -- two earned -- on five hits over 1 2/3 innings. Justin Phillips struck out six over 3 1/3 scoreless frames.--Benjamin Hill/MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.