HELENA, Mont. -- If the Ogden Raptors are to capture the Pioneer League championship, they will have to get back to what made them successful throughout the 2010 season.
The best hitting team in the league couldn't hit the broad side of a barn on Tuesday night, collecting just three singles and striking out a season-high 17 times against a quartet of Helena Brewer pitchers in a 3-2 loss in the opening game of the best-of-three Pioneer League Championship Series in front of 857 at Kindrick Legion Field.
"We swung through a lot of hittable fastballs, especially early in the game," Ogden manager Damon Berryhill said.
Game 2 of the series is Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Lindquist Field, with Raptors ace Red Patterson scheduled to oppose seven-game winner Matt Miller. If the Raptors win, Game 3 will be played Friday at 7 p.m., also at Lindquist Field.
Leon Landry may have been the poster child for offensive ineptitude on Tuesday, going 0 for 5 with four strikeouts and a foul pop out, but he had plenty of accomplices. The top four batters in the Ogden lineup went a combined 1 for 13 with 10 strikeouts.
"Offensively, we just didn't show up," Berryhill said. "We tried to force too much tonight."
The Raptors got their only two runs of the night on consecutive bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning. Blake Dean singled and four Raptors drew walks in the inning.
Helena starter Tyler Thornburg struck out nine in 32aN3 innings, but also walked four.
Stosh Wawrzasek (1-0) earned the win with 21aN3 scoreless innings. Charly Bashara and Brian Garman combined to allow just a single to Jake Lemmerman in three innings.
"Their 'pen came in and did a good job," Berryhill said.
Helena tied the game at 2-2 on Rafael Neda's RBI double in the fourth and took the lead for good in the fifth inning with an unearned run.
Carlos George led off the inning by popping up a pitch from Ogden starter and loser Bret Montgomery (0-1). The ball got caught in a gust of wind and Ogden third baseman Chris Henderson followed it all the way across the infield, only to have it bounce off the heel of his glove into foul territory for a two-base error. George moved to third on a wild pitch and scored uncontested on Robbie Garvey's sacrifice fly to deep center.
That would be more than enough against a Raptors team that had just three baserunners the rest of the way.
"Tonight was one of those nights," said Jake Lemmerman, the league's Most Valuable Player, who had one of the Raptors' three hits.
But there was little panic in the Raptors' clubhouse.
"We trust ourselves," Lemmerman said. "It's tough to beat us two games in a row."
Ogden's best chance to rally came in the visitors' half of the sixth as Jonathan Garcia reached base on an error by Gregory Hopkins and eventually making it to second on a ball that eeked past Helena's catcher, but again, the Raptors couldn't convert as the Brewers retired three straight,
Ogden finished the night leaving a total of eight ducks on the pond.
Standard-Examiner correspondent Gentry Reinhart contributed to this report.