Owings celebrates win with family
Georgia native welcomes big cheering section for big day
ATLANTA -- Micah Owings' start for the Diamondbacks in Atlanta was viewed in person by about 50 family members and friends, but Owings said his most important spectator wasn't in the crowd at Turner Field on Saturday night.
"I'm a believer, and I just kept praying," Owings said. "I've got a big God, and he did a lot of big things for me tonight."
Owings, who grew up in Gainesville, Ga. -- about an hour away from Atlanta -- and played at Georgia Tech for two seasons before transferring to Tulane, pitched one of the best games of his career and established Diamondbacks records for pitchers by collecting four hits, two home runs and six RBIs in a 12-6 Arizona win.
He did it all in front of the home crowd, plenty of friends and his immediate family, which includes parents Jim and Danise, brother Josh and sisters Becca and Abi. Another brother, Jon, plays with Class A Rome in the Braves organization and was expected to meet up with the rest of the family late on Saturday.
Many of those in attendance at Turner Field on Saturday got a first-time look at Owings in a Major League uniform. Not so for his family, who makes sure to send at least one representative to every one of Micah's starts.
Owings, a 24-year-old rookie, has endured his share of struggles this season, especially recently, as before Saturday he hadn't won since June 20. When things are going tough for Owings, he turns to his faith and his family.
"We try to let everybody know how much the family cares," Jim Owings said. "We're really there more for picking him up on not as good an outing than we are to celebrate with the great ones. It's more to be an encouragement. It's good to know there's always somebody there no matter how you perform."
Saturday, Owings performed better than he ever has, even better than when he was a star two-way player at Georgia Tech and Tulane. Owings, the Diamondbacks' third-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, allowed one hit through six innings and was even better at the plate.
His double in the second inning was a chopper that bounced over the head of shallow-playing third baseman Chipper Jones. There was nothing cheap about Owings' next two swings, though. He clubbed two no-doubt homers off Buddy Carlyle, totaling 861 feet. For good measure, he added a broken-bat RBI single in the seventh, but he lined out in his bid for a fifth hit in the eighth inning.
"I've seen him hit some hard balls before, but obviously not with a wooden bat in a big league game," said Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who is from Atlanta and is familiar with Owings' exploits in high school and college. "I'm sure it was great with his family and everybody here. He kind of did everything for them tonight."
Owings hadn't played in Atlanta since 2004 with Georgia Tech, a season in which he belted 19 home runs. He had only hit two in his professional career before Saturday, but his home run trot became familiar against the Braves.
Owings may never play another game like Saturday's, but his tight-knit family will be there again if he does. On Saturday, they were sitting behind home plate.
"People that know me know I can't say enough about my family," Owings said. "I grew up in a real close family -- two brothers, two sisters and I couldn't ask for better parents. I'm just blessed that they can follow me on an outing-to-outing basis. Even more so, they try to keep track of us night by night, because they're Diamondback fans now."
There may have been little explanation for such an amazing performance by Owings, who hadn't beaten a National League opponent since May 29 and had won just two games on the road this season.
The last pitcher with at least six RBIs in a game was Robert Person, who had seven on June 2, 2002. But Person wasn't quite as impressive on the mound, lasting just five innings in that game and issued four walks.
Owings had his finest game as a Major Leaguer, but he and his family believed his special night was bigger than the game.
"My favorite part was the part where he pointed up to the sky, because we believe that this is a God thing," Abi said. "We all prayed together before the game, and I think God really helped [Owings] tonight."
Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.