The Orem Owlz rallied today to win last night’s suspended contest 7-4 over Idaho Falls, then beat the Chukars 4-3 in the nightcap to clinch the Pioneer League South Division’s first half title. The Casper Ghosts were eliminated after losing 13-6 at Ogden.
I’ve no doubt that Tom Kotchman reminded them tonight not to rest on their laurels in the second half. The first half winner gets home field advantage in the best two-of-three series for the South Division title in September; if the same team wins both halves, they get a bye.
We saw that Casper had their number in the first half, winning head-to-head six games to two, so we really don’t want Casper to take the second half title.
By taking both halves, the Owlz not only get a bye but Kotch also gets to arrange his pitching rotation. In even years, the South Division team gets the home field advantage, so in this year’s championship series the South Division winner hosts Games #2 and 3.
The team with the home field advantage in the title series is usually tough to beat, especially if they win Game #1 on the road. In 2007, the Owlz won Game #1 on the road, then went to Great Falls and won Game #2 to take the title. In 2004, the last year for the Provo Angels, Provo won Game #1 on the road at Billings then won Game #2 and the title in Provo.
So boys, win the second half title and you give yourself a huge edge going into the post-season.
In the last blog, I mentioned the other affiliates doing well. I forget to mention Arkansas, which won their division’s first-half title and is already qualified for the post-season. I remembered this morning when I heard Angels broadcaster Steve Physioc interviewing farm director Abe Flores on the radio post-game show. The conversation was pretty much the same as my last blog — most of the affiliates doing so well. Phys mentioned the Travs were already qualified, and I thought, “Oh darn, I forgot.” Sorry about that …
UPDATE July 28, 2008 5:30 AM PDT — The Owlz’ front office e-mailed to correct the above on playoff scenarios. No bye if the Owlz win the second half. They’d have to play the team with the second-best overall record. So there’s no escaping Casper if they have the second-best record.