Owlz Win 8-7 Thriller In Great Falls

(Ari Davis)

By Steven Cusumano / Orem Owlz | July 14, 2017 12:39 PM ET

After losing Wednesday night's series opener against the Great Falls Voyagers, the Owlz squirmed their way out of the second game with an 8-7 victory. 

 

The Owlz once led the game by a score of 8-0, before the Voyagers spread seven unanswered runs across the final five innings of the game, stranding the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

 

First baseman Franklin Torres got the Owlz on the board with a run-scoring single in the second inning, that allowed Torii Hunter Jr. to come home and give Orem a 1-0 lead. 

 

Great Falls starting pitcher Adam Panayotovich then loaded the bases, giving way to Owlz right fielder Ryan Vega. 

 

Vega cleared the bases with a triple that got down in the left-center field gap to give the Owlz a 4-0 lead. 

 

Owlz catcher Keinner Piña then brought Vega home with an RBI single that made the score 5-0. 

 

Third baseman Manuel Guzman drove in the final three runs of the game for the Owlz. He began by ending the Owlz' six-run barrage in the second inning with a single that scored Piña off of second base to give the Owlz a 6-0 lead. 

 

Then in the fourth inning Guzman smoked another single into right field that scored Ryan Vega and Keinner Piña to make the score 8-0 Orem. 

 

Guzman ended his night with a team-high three base hits and three runs batted in. 

 

Ryan Vega was one of four Owlz hitters to picked up two hits at the plate, also tying Guzman with a game-high three runs batted in. 

 

The Great Falls Voyagers then came storming back, beginning with two runs in the fifth inning. 

 

The runs were charged to Owlz starter Andres Heredia, who ended up pitching a season-high four and two thirds innings, allowing just two runs in the fifth. 

 

The two runs allowed by Heredia tied for his fewest in any outing of the year, but he was relieved by Owlz right-handed pitcher Connor Riley with two outs in the fifth inning, which kept him from earning the win. 

 

Riley pitched out of the fifth inning and through the sixth without allowing a hit, preserving the Owlz 8-0 lead and picking up his first career win. 

 

Riley was relieved by left-handed pitcher Evan Smith. Smith allowed one run to come across in the seventh inning, when Great Falls designated hitter Anthony Villa struck a double into the left-center field alley that allowed Max Dutto to score, cutting Orem's lead to five runs. 

 

Tyler Stevens then came on in the eighth for the Owlz and allowed two runs, including a solo homer for Nate Nolan--who also homered in the series opener. 

 

Now with an 8-5 lead, the Owlz entered the ninth inning with a save situation. 

 

Right-handed pitcher Zac Ryan was Orem's usual ninth inning pitcher prior to being promoted to Class A-Burlington on Monday night. Ryan had led the team with two saves prior to his promotion, while also pitching in the ninth inning on six total occasions.

 

Nieto ended up calling upon right-handed pitcher Brett Hanewich to pitch the ninth. Hanewich entered the contest having hurled four scoreless inning, while only allowing one hit in his Minor League career. 

 

Hanewich surrendered a leadoff single to Anthony Villa, followed by a walk issued to Justin Gurchak, setting the wheels in motion for Great Falls. 

 

After each of the runners moved over on a wild pitch, Villa and Gurchak came home on back-to-back ground outs, making the score 8-7. 

 

Hanewich then issued back-to-back walks to the potential tying and game-winning runs, prompting Tom Nieto to make one final pitching change. 

 

Left-handed pitcher James Ziemba got the call, set to work against Voyagers center fielder Tyler Frost. 

 

After drilling Frost with a pitch on the numbers, Ziemba loaded the bases for Great Falls third baseman Amado Nuñez. 

 

Ziemba then got Nuñez to tap a ground ball right back to the pitcher's mound, ending the game himself with an underhand toss to the first baseman Franklin Torres. 

 

Ziemba earned the first save of his Minor League career, locking down one of the Owlz' most heart-throbbing wins of the season. 

 

The game also marks back-to-back wins in which the Owlz ended the game by stranding the bases loaded, just as Daniel Procopio did in an 8-4 Owlz win over Idaho Falls on Monday night. 

 

The 8-7 Owlz victory also marks the second consecutive one-run game that the Owlz have played in. 

 

Entering their series with the Voyagers, the Owlz had played in just one game (out of 22) that was decided by one run. 

 

The win puts the Owlz at 17-7 on the year, 10 games above .500 and in command of a five-game lead over the Ogden Raptors atop the Pioneer League South standings. 

 

The Owlz will play the rubber match in their three game series with the Voyagers on Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 MT. 

 

The Owlz will have RHP Edrick Agosto on the mound working against Great Falls RHP Kyle Von Ruden. 

 

Coverage begins on the Orem Owlz Baseball Network with the Voice of the Owlz, Steven Cusumano, 15 minutes prior to first pitch.

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

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