Monday, June 26, 2017

Ogden Raptors 9 at Orem Owlz 11 (Pioneer League) - June 25, 2017

After a brief foray into Colorado to start the trip, I returned to Utah for the second game in Orem. I took the southern route back, using I-70 for about 100 miles and then US-6 to I-15. Again the scenery is spectacular and I-70 has high speed limits and little traffic, making it a joy to drive. Once you get on US-6, the route becomes bogged down a bit with trucks and RVs, though there are plenty of passing lanes to minimize frustration.

Located about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, Orem is the site of Utah Valley University as well as the Orem Owlz. In fact, the Owlz play out of Brent Brown Ballpark on UVU's campus, but they don't refer to it as that. In a dispute that goes back ten years, the team refuses to use the official name of the stadium, preferring to call it "Home of the Owlz". As you can see from that link, Brent Brown is not a baseball star, but a car dealer who purchased naming rights, so maybe Owlz ownership has a point, but it does seem silly. Interestingly, they don't have either stadium name on their tickets.

Anyway, I arrived at the ballpark before gates had opened and was a bit confused by the parking arrangements. The Owlz website says that parking is $5 (that comes with a $2 coupon that can be used at the concession stands) but there was nobody collecting cash. I parked in the UVU visitor lot, which has signs stating that pay parking is enforced till 10 pm, but the ticket booth was closed and there was no pay station. I decided to wait for a bit, and the arrival of other fans indicated that it was safe to leave the car there; I guess the parking charges apply during the week when the university is busier.

Tickets are $5 for GA, $9 for reserved, and $12 for premium, which are the first few rows of each section. There are no ushers checking tickets, but the stadium has only 2,500 seats and the team averages 1,500, so if you want a good seat without the concern of being kicked out, splurge for reserved.

As this is a college ballpark, it is pretty basic, with 9 sections of Kelly green seats from base to base, all protected by netting, and a berm down the left field line where kids scramble for foul balls. You can walk along the berm and take a picture of the entire seating bowl.

There are few amenities and I did not see any Owlz history on display. As well, there is no beer on sale as it a campus venue.

The only display related to the team are the Pioneer League pennants around the concourse for each of the championships the Owlz have won; 2005, 2007, 2009, and a fourth title last season. They also won in 2004 as the Provo Angels.

The lineup and standings are posted along a concourse wall. Rosters are available at the guest services desk, but are a buck apiece.

If you are there for a day game, make sure to get a seat under cover as the Utah sun can bake you in a very short time.

The highlight here is the Wasatch Range mountain backdrop behind the left field fence. Really one of the most scenic ballparks in the country.

Overall, Brent Brown Ballpark is really a college venue doubling as a minor league one. I've been to a few of these and they are all similar in that many of the typical minor league amenities are missing (especially beer). Still, the Home of the Owlz is worth a visit simply because of the beautiful location. If you happen to be in Salt Lake City in the summer, see if the Owlz are home and make the short drive to Orem to add this doubly-named stadium to your list.

The Game

It was my second day in a row seeing the Ogden Raptors (Dodgers) on the road. The Owlz are still an Angels affiliate, so it was a Pioneer League battle of Los Angeles. To give you an idea of the roster size in this league, only 2 Ogden starters from the day before were in the lineup on this day. Chris Rodriguez (4th round, 2016, Anaheim's #7 prospect) started for Orem against Osiris Ramirez. Neither pitcher did well, and we were tied at 5 in the fifth when the Owlz exploded for six runs, five of them off a woefully ineffective Conor Costello (32nd, 2016).

In the 7th, Austin Adams came in to the game for Orem. Adams has 53 games of MLB experience with Cleveland, but was dealt to the Angels this past offseason. He was injured while pitching for Salt Lake and this was his first rehab appearance coming off the DL. He quickly got two outs, but hurt himself again facing the third batter, and was removed, frustration obvious on his face. Evan Smith, a Blue Jays fourth rounder back in 2013, replaced Adams to finish the frame, but gave up three runs in the 8th as Ogden made it exciting. Zac Ryan came on for the save and gave up a walk and an RBI double before settling down to retire the next 3 batters as Orem won 11-9. A very typical rookie league game with 11 walks, a couple of hit batsmen, a balk, a wild pitch, and two errors. Brandon Marsh, the Angels #2 draft pick last year and their #3 prospect, went 1-5 with an RBI double.

Next Up

I'm staying in the Salt Lake City area for a couple of days, and checking out the AAA Bees tonight before heading to Ogden tomorrow. Check back for recaps.



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