Owlz down Chukars with 14 walks

By Paul Lambert | Post Register
If Saturday night’s game at Melaleuca Field were a boxing match, the Vegas odds would have been somewhere in the Mayweather-McGregor range. 
Something like 7 to 1 against the home team, with the defending Pioneer League champion Orem Owlz (Mayweather) as the heavy favorites over the hometown Chukars (McGregor).
Always with a puncher’s chance, the Chukars went toe-to-toe with the league leading Owlz, but ended up on the canvas for the third-straight night, losing 15-8.
But it wasn’t a string of hits that dropped the Chukars. It was a string of walks.
Idaho Falls (17-22, 0-1) had at least one hit in every inning, out-hitting Orem (27-11, 1-0) 18-13.
But the Chukars’ pitching staff walked 14 in the loss. Orem walked only one. The worst of it came in the top of the sixth when Orem scored six runs on just two hits, taking advantage of five walks.
That sequence broke a 6-6 tie, leaving Idaho Falls trapped in the corner, down 12-6. Even without all those free passes to the Pioneer League’s best team, the tale of the tape didn’t look for the Chuks coming in. The Owlz came in hitting a throaty .374 against Idaho Falls. Conversely, the Chukars were hitting just .228 verse Orem. Also, Orem led the season series 8-1, including dominant wins Thursday and Friday.
And to top it all off, Orem delivered a straight shot with three runs in the top of the first off starter Julio Pinto — the Pioneer League’s leader in losses and walks. Pinto continued to struggle finding the plate, walking eight more over 5 innings, absorbing another loss to fall to 2-6.
Jeremy Gwinn had an even tougher time finding the plate in relief, walking five in the sixth without recording a single out. The Owlz batted around in that decisive sixth, sending 10 to the plate to offset a game-tying 3-spot posted by Idaho Falls in the bottom of the fifth.

What’s important:

Idaho Falls fell to 3-18 when the other team scores first, and 2-20 when trailing after six innings. The game was the first of the second half of the Pioneer League season for the Chukars (0-1).

Player of the Game:

Danny Hrbek struck out five over two shutout innings in relief, helping to bandage a pitching staff that seemed determined to suffer death by papercut.

What’s next:

The Chukars and Owlz wrap up their four game series with today’s Sunday matinee, with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. Then its off to Montana for seven games beginning Thursday, with the Chukars coming back home on Aug. 11.

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