The Ogden Raptors gave up a late 11-6 lead and went to a knockout tiebreaker in an 11-11 game, eventually losing in two round knockouts to the Rocky Mountain Vibes to fall to 17-17 in the second half and 0-5 in Knockout Matches this season.
Ogden (46-36, 17-17) shortstop Jesus Valdez hit two two-run doubles. The second came in the sixth inning to give the Raptors a 9-6 lead.
Raptors wide receiver Sonny Ulliana, who hit 5-for-5, doubled in a run in the seventh and scored on a Dustyn Macaluso single for an 11-6 lead.
Relief pitcher Brandon McCabe allowed two runs from Vibes (31-47, 15-17) in the seventh to make it 11-8.
Miguel Cirino got two outs after Adam Scoggins edged the leadoff batter in the eighth, but then ran the bases loaded. Ace closer, Jackson Lancaster took the mound but looked staggered, walking into a run to make it 11-9.
Domonique Hernandez then hit a ball down the right-field line, a triple safe at the sprawling UC Health Park in Colorado Springs that would clear the bases and put Rocky Mountain in front – but found a corner under the fence for a double from basic rule, scoring just two to tie it 11-11.
Lancaster called on former teammate Nick Michaels to line up and finish the eighth inning.
Neither team threatened in the ninth, with Lancaster back in form (none of the runs were charged to his register, so he pitched a scoreless inning in 1 1/3 as far as stats go) .
This sent the game to Knockout, a home derby unique to the Pioneer League. Each team sends a player to the plate to hit as many home runs as possible in 2 minutes or before recording five outs without a homer, whichever comes first.
Valdez landed his first hit at Knockout this season and did something no other Raptors player has: he hit more than one home run, sending two over the fence on his turn at direct elimination.
It seemed for a moment that it would allow Ogden to win when Vibes player Mike Annone couldn’t throw strikes for his hitter, Ethan Lopez. But Lopez sent his second homer over the wall to the left with 30 seconds left. He then ran out of time before registering his fifth out.
With Matt Warkentin unavailable because he didn’t appear in Ogden’s lineup Friday night on a night off, the Raptors sent Josh Broughton to the plate for the second round. He had five quick outs and didn’t flirt with any homers.
Rocky Mountain dispatched former Raptors player Nick Michaels to strike in their second-round half, and he hit his second swing over the fence for the Vibes victory.
Ogden has lost its last two games in tough fashion, going down 6-5 Thursday while leaving the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings, and 12-11 Friday via knockout after giving up an 11-6 lead.
Both teams end the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. The season series is tied 8-8. There are 14 games left in the regular season before Ogden in all likelihood faces the Grand Junction Rockies in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Rocky Mountain 12, Ogden 11 (via 2-round knockout)
Northern Colorado 13, Grand Junction 8
Billings 5, Missoula 2
Great Falls 4, Glacier 3 (via Knockout)
Idaho Falls 23, Boise 3
PIONEER LEAGUE STANDINGS
*Missoula 23-11 (58-23 overall)
Billing 19-15 (44-36)
Idaho Falls 16-17 (44-37)
Glacier 16-17 (33-47)
Big Falls 15-18 (42-38)
Grand Junction 26-8 (52-30)
* Oden 17-17 (46-36)
Rockies 15-17 (31-47)
Northern Colorado 12-22 (29-50)
Woody 8-25 (25-56)
*- indicates 1st half champion