OGDEN — The Ogden Raptors and the Northern Colorado Owlz played a surprisingly similar game in Sunday’s series finale as they did in Tuesday’s opener: low scoring with two strong starting pitching performances.
The game ended almost the same way, but with a bit more flair. On Tuesday, Raptors shortstop Jesus Valdez hit a game-winning RBI single for a 3-2 victory.
Valdez took matters into his own hands again on Sunday, throwing a solo home run into left field to lead in the bottom of the ninth. His celebratory bat flip had so much juice that it almost knocked several teammates out of the dugout to watch his winner without a doubt, and the Raptors were 5-4 winners.
The victory took Ogden up 4-2 in a series in a week that saw three of six games decided by one run and a fourth tied and decided by Knockout Round.
On Tuesday, both teams got eight solid innings from their starters (Ronny Orta for Ogden, Will Buraconak for Northern Colorado) and the game went to the ninth tie 2-2 where Valdez won with a single.
On Sunday, Ogden (45-33, 16-14) handed the ball to Riley Ottesen and he gave the Raptors six scoreless innings, throwing about three hits and two walks with six strikeouts (and catcher Sonny Ulliana also ejected three baserunners on the day).
He started with a 2-0 lead thanks to a swing by Ogden first baseman Matt Warkentin. Northern Colorado (28-46, 11-18) had Buraconak on the mound again and he allowed just two hits in six innings. But one came first when, after Buraconak beat Reese Alexiades with two outs, Warkentin fielded a laser homer to right center for a 2-0 lead.
The Owlz quickly erased that when Ottesen left for Chance Benton, who immediately gave up a two-run homer to Ty Lewis in the seventh for a 2-2 score.
Ogden regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh, breaking through against Buraconak for three hits. One from Logan Williams scored Valdez, and Williams then scored on a double steal with Josh Broughton to put the Raptors up 4-2.
Adam Scoggins made his Ogden debut and came out of that seventh inning, but struggled in the eighth. The southpaw is a Dodgers prospect recently released from the Great Lakes at high-A and pitched well until a hit, a two-run homer from Abdel Guadalupe, tied the game again 4-4.
Ogden, closer, Jackson Lancaster pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out three to throw around a first single and one-shot.
That set up the bottom of the ninth, where Ogden tried to avoid a decision via Knockout Round (the Raptors are 0-4 in Knockout this season). Valdez delivered with his big fly.
Ogden will then hit the road for a six-game series Aug. 23-28 in Colorado Springs against the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
Ogden 5, Northern Colorado 4
Grand Junction 10, Rocky Mountain 5
Woodland 9, Glacier 6
Billings 4, Great Falls 3
Missoula 12, Idaho Falls 1
Missoula 14, Idaho Falls 2
PIONEER LEAGUE STANDINGS
*Missoula 21-9 (56-21 overall)
Billing 17-13 (42-34)
Idaho Falls 14-15 (42-35)
Great Falls 14-16 (41-36)
Glacier 14-16 (31-46)
Grand Junction 22-7 (48-29)
* Oden 16-14 (45-33)
Rockies 12-16 (28-46)
Northern Colorado 11-18 (28-46)
Woody 6-23 (23-54)
*- indicates 1st half champion