Owlz headed to playoffs

Having played to a tie for the division lead through the first 37 games of the season, it was only appropriate that the Orem Owlz and Idaho Falls Chukars had to go to extra innings to determine which club would claim a playoff spot in the Pioneer League.

After the Owlz used a powerful offensive attack to win on Thursday and set up the showdown, on Friday it came down to pitching. And while the Chukars consistently dodged trouble through nine innings, Owlz pitching was better in a 3-2 victory.

Sean O'Sullivan started for Orem and gave up two runs on just four hits in seven innings, his longest stint this year. The big righty struck out just three, but once again did not issue a walk – extending his streak to 22 innings. He finishes the first half with a 1.85 ERA, second-best in the league.

Despite the strong performance, O'Sullivan was looking at a possible loss when he left the game because his offense had mustered just one run despite putting at least one runner on in each of the first five innings. Twice, the club left a runner on third base.

In the eighth, the Chukars gave the Owlz a run, putting Chris Pettit on by error and eventually pushing him across with a wild pitch to tie the score.

While the Idaho Falls bullpen struggled, Felipe Arredondo absolutely dominated in relief. After opening his appearance with a hit batsman, the right-hander struck out eight of the next 10 batters he faced, giving up just one single and an easy fly out to center field.

Given time to pull things together, the Owlz offense threatened in the bottom of the ninth, but faltered once again. In the 10th, however, P.J. Phillips opened with a walk and advanced to second on a balk. One out later, Abel Nieves drove a double to right field to claim the 3-2 victory and clinch a playoff spot.

The Owlz are the first Angels farm team to claim a post-season birth this year, though the Salt Lake Bees are in first place in their division of the Pacific Coast League.

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