OGDEN — There wasn’t much suspense Thursday night about whether the Ogden Raptors were going to keep their winning streak alive.
They went ahead and answered that question in the second inning.
The Raptors exploded for seven runs in the second and the pitching did enough in an easy 11-5 win over Idaho Falls at Lindquist Field.
Ogden (19-12, 40-29) now has a seven-game winning streak, and the Raptors have won 13 of their last 16 games. In that span, the Raptors have moved from last place in the Pioneer League South second-half standings to first, one game over Grand Junction.
The secret to the Raptors’ sustained success, said Malcolm Holland, is that the team is gearing up for the playoffs, where anything but a championship would be disappointing.
“We all want to win a championship,” said Holland, who walked and scored in the first. “We’re not going to stay an extra six games to not win it.”
After both teams scored single runs in the first, the Raptors used an impressive display of power to put up seven in the second off Chukars (14-17, 31-38) starter Zed Sneed.
It started with Tae-Hyeok Nam’s solo homer over the center-field wall. Later, Jeremy Rathjen dropped a two-run single in shallow left field, then three-straight extra-base hits broke it open. Noel Cuevas’s double started it, followed by a homer from Justin Boudreaux, and a double from Bladimir Franco capped the rally.
“It was big time,” Holland said. “In a 1-1 game, if we come out and just hit, it just takes a lot of pressure off our pitcher.”
Gregg Downing gave the Raptors a solid outing on the mound. The left-hander, who’s spent most of the season in the bullpen, turned in his best start, giving up four runs in seven innings, giving the bullpen a bit of a break in the process.
Aside from a few minor blemishes, Downing cruised until a rough patch in the seventh. Nick DelGuidice blasted a no-doubt homer to left-center to start the inning, and Aldaberto Mondesi’s double later scored another run.
Mondesi, one of the league’s top prospects, and its youngest, also had a solo homer in the third.
Cuevas, who played 60 games with the Raptors last year and is coming back from a broken hand, went 5 for 5, improving his average to .481 in 27 at-bats since joining Ogden just over a week ago.
“He’s finally back healthy, and he’s swinging it real well,” said Raptors manager Damon Berryhill. “He should have had a full season at the next level up, but both those injuries ended up costing him playing time. We’re happy to have him.”
Boudreaux added a two-run double off the center-field wall in the sixth, and Rathjen hit a solo homer off the scoreboard in the eighth, his eighth of the season.
The Raptors and Chukars meet again tonight at 7 p.m. at Lindquist Field.