With the best pitching performance of the season, good base running, and timely defense, the Orem Owlz took game one of the Pioneer League championship series against the Billings Mustangs in Dehler Park 3-0.
Starting right-hander Sam Pastrone worked six perfect innings with seven strikeouts - a stark contrast from his previous postseason start against Ogden. A bunt single would lead off the seventh inning by T.J. Friedl off Greg Belton, but it would be the Mustangs only hit of the evening.
Orem scored in the second inning thanks to Jack Kruger's base running. He stole second and took third when the throw from catcher Cassidy Brown went into center field. He would score with Keith Grieshaber batting on a wild pitch.
The Owlz added one more in the fourth with more speed on the bases. Runners were on the corners with Zach Gibbons on third and Nick Flair on first. With Kruger batting, Flair broke for second and Brown's throw went that direction. Upon seeing the throw there, Gibbons sped home. Billings had designed the play for shortstop Hector Vargas to cut in front of second and throw home, but he missed his target and it allowed Gibbons to score.
Meanwhile, Pastrone was dealing. Fueled by 11/18 first pitch strikes, the 19-year-old only encountered one three-ball count, and three other two-ball counts. He only threw back-to-back balls three times in the 18 batters he faced. A huge play to preserve the perfect game came to begin the fourth, when Friedl hit a line drive to the right side. Second baseman Cody Ramer made a full extension diving catch to his left to preserve the zero in the hit column.
Flair would provide the last run for the Owlz with an RBI single in the eighth to score Ramer and mark the score at 3-0.
Despite the aforementioned bunt single, there would be two more baserunners on walks in the later innings but Belton, Ashur Tolliver, and Tyler Warmoth combined with Pastrone for the second shutout of the season. It was the second one-hitter in Owlz history, previously in 2010 on June 24th at home against Ogden.
Next, the Owlz enjoy Thursday off and have a chance to clinch the franchise's fifth Pioneer League title at home on Friday at 7:05 PM MDT.