OGDEN -- Nothing calms a team more than taking a commanding early lead.
It just so happens the Ogden Raptors have been believers in that philosophy during their recent victories, and they proved it true again Tuesday, as the Raptors broke a three-game losing streak, beating the Great Falls Voyagers, 10-4, in front of 3,080 fans at Lindquist Field.
"It's been strange, because we've been swinging the bats well, even in Orem," said Raptors manager Damon Berryhill, in reference to the sweep at the hands of Orem. "We cut down on the approach tonight, and I'm proud of the guys for coming of a day off- coming out ready to play and get back on track."
The Raptors' offense erupted in the first inning, as first baseman Justin Chigbogu hit his eighth home run of the year a mammoth shot over the center-field fence, giving Ogden an early 3-0 lead.
The Raptors saw more action in the bottom of the second, with Jacob Scavuzzo and Jesmuel Valentin both scoring on a sharply placed extra-based hit, courtesy of Hank Yates.
The early lead helped propel the Raptors' confidence throughout the game, as did the fans.
"Our fans are our support," Justin Chigbozu. "All of us work hard for our fans -- we've got to give them a game. If the fans are there, we're there, and we get hyped off of them."
All the while, Ogden starter Luis De Paula pitched well enough to escape a few Voyager jams. However, Great Falls would get on the board in the third inning, as shortstop Tyler Shyock scored on a Zach Voight single- cutting the Raptor lead to 5-1.
Again, the Raptors responded to the adversity in the bottom of the fourth inning. Yates had another sharp RBI, a single which scored Jake Curletta, and Jesus Valdez contributed with a sacrifice fly that scored Dillon Moyer- two runs which gave Ogden a 7-1 lead.
As the night progressed though, the jams De Paula found himself in continued to worsen, and the top of the sixth was a struggle from the beginning. Voyager first baseman Danny Hayes scored on a Zach Fisher single, and then designated hitter Corey Thompson worked his way across the plate on a De Paula wild pitch.
After inducing left fielder Justin Jirschele in a fly-out to center, De Paula was pulled, in favor of reliever Ricky Perez. Perez quickly retired the remaining batters to end the inning, maintaining Ogden's 7-3 lead.
Great Falls would score again in the top of the seventh, with Shyock scoring on a Hayes RBI single.
Ogden would get the last laugh however, with Chigbogu and Alex Santana scoring on a Curletta RBI double. Curletta would also head home on a Valentin single to right field, as the Raptors scored three runs in the eighth inning.
De Paula earned the victory for Ogden, moving to 2-2 on the season. Jacob Rhame pitched a shutout ninth inning in a non-save situation.
"I thought it was a quality start," Berryhill said, of De Paula's victory. "In the sixth inning, I know the pitch count was getting up a little bit, but we wanted to give him an opportunity to get out there and get another inning in."
The Raptors and Voyagers will play the second game of an important four-game set tonight, with first pitch at 7:05. Ogden's Scott Barlow will start for the Raptors, facing Great Falls' Nick Blount.