Thursday , September 14, 2017 - 9:54 PM
OGDEN — If you have the right recipe, stay in the kitchen and keep cooking.
Rylan Bannon blasted two three-run home runs, Luis Paz hit a solo shot and, just like in their two-game sweep of Orem, the Ogden Raptors used early runs and solid pitching to defeat the Great Falls Voyagers 7-4 on Thursday at Lindquist Field.
The Game 1 decision moves the Raptors one win away from their first Pioneer League Championship since bringing baseball back to Ogden in 1994. It’s the first time in five championship appearances the Raptors have won Game 1 and only the second win in 10 championship series games.
After Donovan Casey led off the bottom of the first with a triple, Luis Paz walked to set up Bannon for his first homer, a skied shot to left field that dropped onto the spectator deck, giving Ogden a 3-0 lead.
“(The pitcher) threw me a few off-speed pitches and I kind of sat on the inside fastball and I got it, and I hit it well,” Bannon said. “It’s a great feeling putting my team up with one swing of the bat, that was awesome to come back to the dugout and see all the smiles and the high fives, it’s something I’ll never forget.”
With his team leading 4-2, the third baseman repeated the feat in the fifth, this time with two outs, driving a ball to left-center field to put Ogden ahead 7-2, giving the Raptors all the runs they’d need.
“I obviously had a pretty decent day at the dish after struggling the last few games searching for a barrel,” Bannon said. “We were joking around the dugout the other day and Matt Jones was looking for my barrel ... I think he found it.”
All of Ogden’s runs came via the home run, with Luis Paz sending a solo shot to right field in the third.
On the mound, Adalberto Pena pitched around two jams in the first two innings, stranding three Voyagers in scoring position to maintain a lead.
Pena pitched a flawless third, then gave up a two-run homer to Great Falls catcher Nate Nolan with one out in the fourth that cut the lead to 4-2.
Devin Hemmerich, Zach Hartman, Miguel Urena and Justin Hoyt combined to throw the final 5 2/3 innings for Ogden, giving up two runs, six hits, striking out 10 and walking two.
Hoyt came on to record the final out of the game with the tying run at the plate, blowing a fastball past JJ Muno for a strikeout to earn the save.
Gersel Pitre joined Bannon as the only Raptors to record multiple hits, finishing 2 for 3.
Kyle Von Ruden, who gave up all three home runs, took the loss for the Voyagers.
Despite a start moved up to 5 p.m. and a rain storm that delayed first pitch by 20 minutes, a crowd of 2,253 fans came for the final game at Lindquist Field for 2017. The Raptors unofficially went 28-12 at home this season (the two home playoff wins do not count toward official records).
The series now shifts to Great Falls with Game 2 coming at 7 p.m. Saturday. A decisive third game, if necessary, would be at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Osiris Ramirez is slated to start Saturday for the Raptors. The right-hander threw five scoreless innings, giving up four hits and striking out three, to defeat Orem in Game 1 of the South Division series Sunday.
“You want to celebrate, you want to enjoy it, but you’re not done yet. We’ve got to come back Saturday and get the next one,” Bannon said. “We’re still grinding out here, we’re going to come out and get another one.”
Contact Brett Hein at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.
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