Owls sliding down the stretch

Jul. 20, 2013 @ 06:26 AM

After a less-than-stellar first half, the Forest City Owls (12-22) are slipping in the wrong direction as the Petitt Cup playoffs draw near.

After posting a 10-17 record in the first half, the Owls are 2-5 in the second as of Friday and losers of nine of their last 11 games.

"We need to focus on the things I preached about early in the season," Forest City head coach David Tufo said. "We're losing games because we aren't winning the little battles within the game. We need to take a step back, win each inning and compete. If we do that then we'll be in a better situation and the wins should follow suit."

In six of the nine loses the Owls pitching staff has held the opposition to five or fewer runs, including Thursday night's 4-3 loss to Gastonia in 10 innings. In the loss, Forest City had the winning runner on base in the ninth inning and the tying run on in the tenth.

"We're getting runners on but we aren't getting clutch hitting," Tufo said. "We need the clutch hits to score runs a build confidence."

Despite the slump, Tufo and his Owls have managed to keep level heads ... if you want to disregard Thursday's on-field dispute that ended in the ejection of both Tufo and assistant Todd Coffey.

"The guys aren't too down on themselves," Tufo said. "Through the season we haven't gotten too high or too low at any point."

According to Tufo, the Owls need to win 12-14 of their final 19 games to even solidify a spot in the Petitt Cup playoffs.

"Going into this last stretch we know we have a challenge on our hands but they're excited because they feel it's a challenge they can overcome and succeed and confidence goes a long way," Tufo said. "We can say or act any way that we want but the results are dictated by the way that we play."

The Owls are home tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a doubleheader against Columbia before embarking on a tough week that includes doubleheaders on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Thursday's doubleheader at Gastonia includes the famous midnight match-up between the two rivals.