Owls enjoy much-needed day off

Jun. 20, 2013 @ 05:34 AM

The 2013 season was a downward spiral for the Forest City Owls after they posted a 2-10 record in their first 12 games, but over a four-day stretch in which the Owls played six games and posted a 4-2 record, it seems that the team may be rising from the dead.

Despite still holding the last spot in the West division, the Owls (6-12) have flown into the ninth spot in team batting average (.238) and sixth in hits (144), due largely in-part to two double-digit explosions over the final six-game stretch.

"The first 12 we were trying to get an idea of what guys were going to contribute on a daily basis," Owls head coach David Tufo said. "Now we have an idea of what guys we can count on each day. And know we're focused on finding those secondary players we can rely on."

The Owls knocked around 58 hits and scored 36 runs during the stretch compared to just 86 hits and 40 runs in their first 12 games.

First baseman Ty Barkell has been leading the offensive charge for the Owls and ranked seventh in batting average in the Coastal Plain League (.371) after recording four hits in a doubleheader sweep of the Gastonia Grizzlies Tuesday night at McNair Field.

"At the beginning of the year I knew to expect a lot from Ty," Tufo said. "Now we're getting batters on base and he's doing what we know he's capable of, and that's driving them in."

Barkell leads the CPL in hits with 26 and comes in fifth in total bases with 34, which is huge for Forest City as former All-Star Nate Chong battles injury.

But the story of late for Forest City is the starting pitching.

Owls starters have logged four consecutive complete-game efforts allowing the bullpen to stay fresh and Tufo from stressing over pitching moves.

"When we first looked at the schedule and saw we would have these doubleheaders we were afraid that out bullpen was really going to get worn out," Tufo said. "But we've only had to pitch four guys in four days so that was a welcomed surprise."

Joshua Bogese started the string with an incredible one-hit outing in a 5-0 win over Martinsville Monday night.

"We needed some spot starts during the doubleheaders and Josh volunteered ," Tufo said. "He's a hard-throwing right-hander out of the bullpen so I wondered how he would be able to expend his energy as a starter, but he really changed his mentality and had a great outing."

Bogese ranks fifth in the CPL with 21 strikeouts on the season in just 16 innings pitched.

Lucas Cash followed with a complete-game loss later that day but Jake Padgett and Jordan Eich each tossed complete games in the sweep of Gastonia.

"It makes it so much easier as a coach just being able to put a guy on the mound to start and not worrying about making a move," Tufo said.

The Owls have their third doubleheader of the week as they host Asheboro tonight.