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09/12/2009 2:37 AM ET
Baird Wins Hitting Crown
Playoffs Begin Saturday in Orem
Dillon Baird's 8th inning single lifted him to the Pioneer League batting title (Boyd Ivey)

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Dillon Baird's 8th inning single to center field lifted the Owlz first baseman to the Pioneer League hitting title as Orem Owlz fell to the Ogden Raptors 8-4 in the final regular season game Friday night at Lindquist Field.

"I knew when I came up in the eighth I needed a hit to stay in the race," Baird said. "I didn't know it was going to put me in front."

Baird entered the game trailing Ogden's Brian Ruggiano by a small margin as the two sluggers were separated by only .004. After Baird struck out in his first plate appearance Ruggiano homered to left field widening the margin.

But the Raptors third baseman would not record a hit the rest of the game while Baird's two base knocks vaulted him to the title with a final difference of .372 to .371.

Ruggiano had one final plate appearance in the bottom of the eighth inning but Owlz second baseman Mike Demperio snagged a sharply hit grounder and fittingly tossed the ball to Baird at first base to secure the title.

"That was a sweet play by Demperio," Baird said. "He did a great job to get out a great hitter in Ruggiano."

The former University of Arizona star also won the PAC-10 hitting title this past season posting a .433 average. He becomes the second consecutive Orem Owl to finish at the top of the league in batting average following Roberto Lopez from 2008.

The Owlz conclude the regular season with a 51-25 record. They will square off with the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League Divisional Playoffs beginning Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Orem. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the box office located at the stadium or by calling 377-2255.

Games two and three (if necessary) will be held in Ogden on Sunday and Monday evenings.

GAME NOTES....Casey Haerther extended his hitting streak to 22 games finishing 2-3 with a double. The former UCLA star finished 3rd in the batting title race with a .350 average....Seven Orem Owlz finished the regular season hitting .300 or higher

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.