The Owlz (38-37, 16-21) led through four innings in Idaho Falls, but two four-run innings by the Chukars (39-36, 17-20) sealed a 10-6 victory at Melaleuca Field. Three different Owlz had multiple hits, but as a unit they went 1-16 with runners in scoring position.
Idaho Falls jumped out to a 2-0 lead through two innings thanks to Nick Dini's bat and a Crusito Mieses wild pitch. The Owlz responded with two in the third inning with a Cody Ramer RBI triple and later scoring on a thowing error by Chukar's catcher MJ Sanchez.
Two more runs came across for the Owlz in the fourth to take the lead. L.J. Kalawaia ripped a double to center to score Franklin Torres, then Alex Abbott would later score on a wild pitch from Reinaldo Cepin -- the Chukars' starter. Mieses worked three innings total for the Owlz, snapping a stretch of two starts in which he did not escape the first inning.
Ariel Ovando worked a scoreless bottom of the fourth but the Chukars formed a rally in the fifth. A walk, stolen base, an error, and a strikeout/wild pitch put runners on the corners for Manny Olloque. The third baseman hit a double to left-center to score two and he managed to get to third on the relay home. The game was tied 4-4, but two batters later Dini would add an RBI double of his own to give the Chukars the lead. He would score on a Sanchez rbi single to right to mark the score at 6-4.
Justin Kelly emerged from the bullpen to try and get the final out with a runner on first. Before his first pitch, he attempted a pickoff to first but was called for a balk by Forrest Ladd - the base umpire. Owlz manager Dave Stapleton started a brief conversation with Ladd about the call but was subsequently ejected from the game for arguing. Kelly would later end the inning on a strikeout. Ironically enough, combined with Ovando's three strikeouts (one reaching base) the Owlz struck out four batters in the inning.
The Owlz didn't go away quietly, adding a run in the sixth thanks to a throwing error by Olloque. Kalawaia scored from second with the ball going out of play down the first base line to make it a one-run game, 6-5. In the bottom of the inning, Kelly got three outs on only four pitches - including a pickoff at first to get Nick Heath.
The Chukars offense would regroup in the seventh with two outs. The first two batters reached on singles but Kelly would strike out the next two. Sanchez made the Owlz pay again with an RBI single to extend the lead to 7-5, but that wasn't the big blow. Ebert was next and he clocked a triple to right-center, but the relay throw from Grieshaber skipped away from Torres and hopped out of play for a "Little League home run." 10-5 was the score headed to the eighth.
John Schuknecht clocked his eighth homer in only 64 Pioneer League at-bats in the eighth. The solo shot put the Owlz down 10-6. In the ninth, the Owlz suddenly formed a two-out rally loading the bases with two singles and a walk. However, Ramer would groundout to end the game and drop the contest 10-6.
Next is the regular season finale at 7:15 in Idaho Falls but due to scheduling, there will be no broadcast from the Owlz of the game.
Orem also discovered who its first-round playoff opponent would be: the Ogden Raptors. They won in 10 innings over the Grand Junction Rockies to clinch the second half. The playoff schedule is set for the following:
Game one: Lindquist Field, Orem at Ogden, Friday 6:30 PM MDT
Game two: The Home of the Owlz, Ogden at Orem, Saturday 1:05 PM MDT
Game three*: The Home of the Owlz, Ogden at Orem, Sunday 4:05 PM MDT
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.