Rivero, Ulliana homer late; Ogden Raptors force Game 3 with GJ Rockies
OGDEN — Facing elimination, Raptors Alejandro Rivero and Sonny Ulliana homered late to swing a back-and-forth battle in Ogden’s favor on the way to a 10-6 win over the Grand Junction Rockies, forcing a final Game 3 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to decide the Pioneer League South Divisional series.
The Raptors turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead in the fourth. After Josh Broughton singled in a run, fellow outfielder Pat Adams launched a three-run homer over Raptor Ridge to provide the lead.
Jaylen Hubbard helped start an answer for the hot Rockies in the fifth, dropping a solo homer just over the centerfield wall to cut it to 6-5. Joe Johnson then hit the final of three singles against Ogden lefty Chase Stratton to score Tyler Sandoval and tie the game 6-6.
Grand Junction turned to usual starter Ian Kahaloa in the fifth and he looked for two innings like he might hold Ogden scoreless the rest of the way. But Rivero, Ogden’s third baseman, ended that notion in the bottom of the seventh by crushing a moonshot to center to put the Raptors up 7-6.
Lefty reliever Jake Mulholland turned in his best performance of the season for Ogden, throwing perfect seventh and eighth innings by striking out five and inducing a weak groundout to second.
With Kahaloa still throwing in the eighth, catcher Ulliana followed a Reese Alexiades single by parking a no-doubter to left-center for a 9-6 lead. After a pitching change, Dakota Conners and Broughton then traded doubles to make it 10-6.
Shutdown reliever Jackson Lancaster took the mound for Ogden in the ninth and quickly struck out Casey Peterson and Hubbard before getting Sandoval to fly out to center to end the game. Mulholland and Lancaster retired the final nine Grand Junction batters, striking out seven of them.
Both starting pitchers had short outings: the Rockies chased Christian Day in the third after Peterson singled in two for the 4-1 lead. GJ starter Izzy Fuentes lasted only 1 1/3 after Ogden asked for a substance check, which apparently uncovered something on his glove, resulting in Fuentes’ ejection and causing heated exchanges between managers Kash Beauchamp and Bobby Jenks.