When September rolls around, two things are guaranteed: the start of the college football season, and the Orem Owlz making the Pioneer League Championship Series.
Thanks to a 9-1 victory over the Ogden Raptors in Sunday's Game 3 of the first-round series, the Owlz will make their fifth trip to the finals in as many tries.
Orem hosts Helena in the best-of-three series beginning Tuesday in Orem.
Heading into the final 10 days of the season it wasn't a done deal that the Owlz would even get into the playoffs, as they were battling the Casper Rockies for the top spot in the South Division in the second half.
The Owlz, however, won five of six games over the Raptors — including two in Ogden — which got them into the playoffs.
Orem had lost six straight games to the Raptors in Ogden and were outscored 47-22 and outhit 65-56 in the losses.
In three of their last four games in Ogden, including the decisive Game 3 Sunday and two regular-season games, the Owlz outhit the Raptors 43-25 and outscored them 30-6.
"The key was we won our last two games here so that got the monkey off our backs a little bit that we could win here," Orem manager Tom Kotchman said.
In the three-game series the Owls held the Raptors to just 14 hits and only one of Ogden's six runs in the series was earned.
"The key again was the pitching," Kotchman said.
Orem righthander Daniel Hawkins surrendered just one hit in five inning in improving to 7-2. He retired the side in order in each of the first three innings, though he wasn't perfect because of a first-inning error. He gave up his first hit in the fourth inning and eventually worked out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Juan Apodaca to ground into an inning-ending double play.
By that time the Owlz led 6-0, thanks to a six-run fourth inning in which they recorded six hits while sending 10 hitters to the plate.
Patrick Reilly's one-out, two-run homer started a string of six straight base hits and five runs. Billy Boyer, who was hobbled with a bad leg, had a two-run single, Bradley Coon added an RBI single, and Hainley Statia had an RBI sacrifice fly.
Ogden's only run came in the sixth on a solo homer by Juan Rivera.
Stan Smith, who was a triple away from hitting for the cycle, added a solo homer in the sixth and Trumbo did the same in the seventh. Trumbo added an RBI double in the eighth.
"When you have a winning team everybody contributes and everybody did," Kotchman said.
Ogden couldn't come up with the timely hits Sunday, which was the story the entire series.
"It just came down to we didn't hit to win," Ogden manager Juan Bustabad said. "If we would have hit like we did earlier we would have beat them. Their pitching was good, our pitching was good, it was a great series."
The Owlz (39-38) pounded 16 hits Sunday with Coon and Smith finishing with three hits apiece, while Trumbo and Colby Overstreet tallied two each.
The Raptors, the South Division first-half champions, finished the season 39-38.