OGDEN -- The 2013 Raptors came into Saturday's home opener at Lindquist Field looking for their first victory.
Austin Cowen's two-out single to left to score Jesmuel Valentin from second in the bottom of the eighth delivered the win over Idaho Falls.
Raptors closer Sawil Gonzalez made the lead stand up by stranding the tying run on third in the top of the ninth, striking out Humberto Arteago and coaxing Daniel Rockett into grounding out to short for the save.
The franchise celebrated a victory of another sort by marking the beginning of its 20th season in Ogden in front of 5,350 fans in attendance for the game and postgame fireworks.
"The main thing that keeps going through my head is where did the time go? Two decades went by real fast," Raptors team president Dave Baggott said. "Part of what we do still feels like we're getting started. I guess we'll always feel that way. No matter what we do or how many people show up, you gotta keep working to try to get more. The only thing I know about getting older is the days go faster and the years go much faster."
The Raptors began life as an independent ballclub playing at Serge B. Simmons Field before moving up in the baseball world by affiliating with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1996 and moving into a brand new Lindquist Field in 1997. The stadium was expanded before the 2008 season.
"When you're trying to sell the word professional in your moniker, if you don't have a major league club that you can tie your name with, it makes it a tougher sell," Baggott said. "Now those first two years were wonderful, because it established the Raptors as a franchise and a baseball entity.
"Then when the Brewers came, things kind of took off from there. When Lindquist Field was built, it took off even more from there, then when the Dodgers came in 2003, it just went beyond our wildest expectations. Having that relationship with a major league club and seeing (64) of our former players make it to the major leagues, it's something we're quite proud of. We've been here long enough (to have) some of our players play in the major leagues and then retire."
The current crop of Raptors would love to do the same as they aim to climb the ladder to the majors and leave the rookie league behind.
Ogden retook the lead in the sixth with a pair of RBIs from two returning Raptors, Austin Cowen and Jesus Valdez. Cowen brought home Jesmuel Valentin with a groundout and Valdez, who led the Pioneer League in RBIs last season, hit a run-scoring single to plate Hank Yates.
Cowen went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs Saturday, while Yates doubled twice and scored twice in his pro debut. Valdez and Joey Curletta also had multiple hits while Gerson Nunez and Zach Babbitt each drove in a run.
Ogden starter Jonathan Martinez opened the season with five strong innings but struggled in the sixth. He allowed six hits over six innings, allowing four runs, all unearned in his last inning as he made a throwing error, then saw the Chukars' Hunter Dozier hit an RBI double, followed by a two-run triple by Elier Hernandez and another run-scoring double by Alexis Rivera to tie the game and erase Ogden's 4-0 lead.
Raptors reliever Jose Diaz (1-0) tossed 1 1/3 innings for the victory, striking out three and allowing one hit and no runs.
The Chukars had tied the game once again at 6-6 off Ogden's Michael Johnson, who allowed two run and llasted just 2/3 of an inning before Diaz came on for the final out of the seventh.
Ogden and Idaho Falls play the second of their four-game series today at 4 p.m.