After 31 seasons in professional baseball, including the last 26 in the Angels organization, Orem manager Tom Kotchman still can't figure out how his current team put together a franchise record-tying 14-game winning streak.
"It makes no sense," Kotchman admitted after the Owlz cruised to an 11-5 rout of the visiting Helena Brewers on Thursday night to match the mark set by last year's club.
"We're last in the league in hitting home runs and we lost our best position player [second baseman] Jean Segura to a broken finger [earlier this month]."
Despite the lack of power and the injury to Segura, the Owlz have outscored their opponents, 114-47, during the streak, thanks to some unexpected contributions and overall solid play.
"These kids go about their business the right way," said Kotchman. "That's probably the thing that I'm proudest of. That's something that's not negotiable around here. That's how you prepare kids for the next level."
Venezuelan right-hander Orangel Arenas (3-3) made sure the Owlz didn't fall shy of the record, tossing six scoreless innings of two-hit ball while striking out five as Orem built an 11-0 lead before he left the mound.
"The thing that [Arenas] is doing now is, he's making
in-game and in-hitter adjustments," said Kotchman, who has guided the Owlz to three Pioneer League championships in the past five years. "That's something you really like to see from a young kid."
Kevin Ramos, who replaced Segura at second base, has hit safely in all but one game during the winning streak. He led off and went 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored Thursday.
Casey Haerther paced the Owlz's attack, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI as Orem remained unbeaten since a 5-3 setback to Idaho Falls on Aug. 4.
Catcher Carlos Ramirez went 3-for-4 and belted a solo homer, helping the Owlz climb out of the circuit's cellar in power production with their 25th long ball -- one more than Billings.
"His offensive numbers have been very good," Kotchman said of the Angels' eighth-round pick out of Arizona State in this year's Draft. "He speaks both [English and Spanish], and has a really good feel for his position and a very good feel for playing the game."
Orem, which leads the Pioneer League's South Division with a 15-1 second-half record, will have a chance to establish a new mark when it hosts Helena again on Friday night.
As far as Kotchman is concerned, however, his team just needs to continue focusing on what got them to this point.
"The harder you work, the luckier you get," he said."We play the same way whether we're up by five runs or down by five runs. We're vanilla and boring and just go about our business."