MISSOULA – Home ended up being anything but sweet for the Missoula Osprey.
The Osprey lost to the Orem Owlz 5-3 on Friday at Ogren-Allegiance Park in front of 1,612 fans. It was their first home game of the second half after starting 2-5 on the road.
“We’ve told them don’t be complacent with being in the playoffs,” O’s manager Mike Benjamin said. “You’re still trying to improve. You don’t just sit on everything you did in the first half.
“Their goal is to move to the next level, so they’ve to keep performing and getting better so that they do have that opportunity. That’s what we try to preach to them is improvement every day, and the results should follow.”
The O’s out-hit Orem 13-7 and retired the Owlz in order five times. They held Orem to four hits in eight innings but gave up three singles and the deciding two runs in the ninth.
The Osprey hurt themselves by stranding 11 runners on base. They left runners on second and third in sixth, on first and second in the seventh, on third in the eighth, and on the corners in the ninth.
Friday’s result wasn’t what the O’s were hoping for as they returned home. But with six more games remaining on the homestand and having gone 12-10 at home, they’re hoping to turn things around.
“Being home is more comfortable,” said O’s third baseman Joey Rose, who extended his hit streak to 20 games. “We came out to a bad start these past games. I think we should do a lot better at home. The games aren’t going the way we want them to go. They just got the timely hits.”
Orem third baseman Franklin Torres finished with a game-high three RBIs out of the eighth spot in the order. His two-out, two-run single up in the middle in the top of the ninth put the Owlz up 5-3.
The Owlz struck for three hits off reliever Jeff Bain in the ninth after entering the inning with four hits. Starter Kai-Wei Lin held them to three runs and four hits in five innings, retiring the side three times and striking out a season-high seven batters. Reliever Casey Kulina retired all six batters he faced, and Bain tossed a scoreless eighth.
O’s designated hitter Gavin Stupienski got the game’s first hit when he crushed a two-out, solo home run to right field in the bottom of the second off of Orem starter Elvin Rodriguez.
Orem second baseman Steven Kerr hit a two-run home to left field in the third inning to put the Owlz up 2-1. It was Lin’s 14th home run allowed this season, and the first home run Kerr hit in 21 at-bats with Orem this year.
The Owlz added a run off Lin in the fifth when Torres slapped a one-out RBI single to right field. He drove in Manuel Guzman, who tripled on a ball that appeared to be caught by center fielder Eduardo Diaz at the outfield wall.
Rose tied the game when he drove in Gabriel Maciel with a two-out, sharp single to left field and advanced to second as Orem tried to throw out Diaz at third base. Torres threw to second base, the ball got past the player covering the base and Diaz slid under a throw home to tie the game, 3-3. Diaz and Torres both reached with two outs in the inning.
First baseman Francis Martinez and catcher Andy Yerzy each extended their hitting streaks to 13 games.