Eric Aguilera stepped to the plate in a clutch situation for the second time in as many games Monday night, and delivered for the Orem Owlz in the 7th with a two-run double. His gapper to left field was the game-deciding hit, and brought in the only runs between the 4th and 9th innings of a 5-3 Owlz victory over the Grand Junction Rockies.
"There is nothing better than to come through late," Aguilera said. "It's early in the season and we are still working to improve, so it felt good to pull this one out."
"I think [Eric] wanted to be in that position again," Owlz manager Bill Richardson said. "He was in no rush and no hurry at the plate."
Orem (2-3, 2-3 Pioneer South) recorded its first home win of the season and dealt Grand Junction (4-1, 4-1 Pioneer South) its first loss of the season.
The Owlz got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Aguilera hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Riley Good. Chad Hinshaw followed with a RBI groundout to score Angel Rosa and tie the game at two. The Owlz fell behind 3-2 in the 3rd and once more pulled even when Chad Hinshaw came around to score on an error by Rockies shortstop Emerson Jimenez.
"With a young team like this one, trailing early can make it seem like you have a large mountain to climb," Richardson said. "It means a lot, especially at this level, to come back and tie the game right away."
Left-hander Nate Smith started the game for the Owlz and surrendered two earned runs on two hits while striking out four in two innings. Daniel Hurtado threw the longest relief outing for an Owlz pitcher this season with four innings, and Trevor Foss (W, 1-0) pitched two innings and struck out two. Foss faced a no-out, runner on third situation in both the 7th and 8th, and pitched effectively to prevent the Rockies from scoring. Harrison Cooney (SV, 1) threw his second 1-2-3 inning of the season to close the game in the 9th.
"The bullpen was outstanding tonight. They kicked it around and held things together well," Richardson said.
Aguilera continues to lead the Owlz in RBI, and added three Monday for a total of nine on the season.
The Owlz host the Rockies tomorrow for a 7:05 p.m. MDT first pitch. To listen live, go to audio.oremowlz.com.