Joe McQueen Raptors

In this June 19, 2018, photo, Ogden saxophonist Joe McQueen, 99, warms up before playing the national anthem ahead of the Ogden Raptors' home opener.

OGDEN — The Ogden Raptors return home Friday to begin a string of seven straight home games in the second-to-last homestand of the regular season.

With a first-half division title, the Raptors have already wrapped up a playoff berth come September, but the team is still 11-8 in the second half and one game out of first place. At 37-20 overall, beating last season’s record of 47 regular-season wins is still in play.

The Raptors first play host to the Billings Mustangs for three games, a team that’s a red-hot 13-5 so far in the second half. Billings pitchers boast a league-best 4.46 team ERA, part of how the Mustangs edged Ogden for two one-run wins last week in Montana.

Ogden then hosts the Great Falls Voyagers for four games. The Raptors recently won a three-game series 2-1 in Great Falls. The Voyagers won the North Division’s first half at 22-16 but have stumbled to a 4-14 mark so far in the second half. Great Falls is hitting .269 as a team, sixth in the league, compared to Ogden’s league-best .310.

Here’s a rundown of special promotions, including a charity food drive, and details about a change to game times happening during the homestand:

TIME CHANGE

Games Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.) along with Sunday (4 p.m.) have usual start times, but beginning Monday, Aug. 20, home games for the rest of the season will begin at 6:30 p.m. to encourage families to enjoy the finish of the season despite the beginning of school.

FOOD DRIVE/MYSTERY BOBBLEHEAD

On Saturday, Aug. 18, the Raptors will host a food drive on Just Serve Night. Any fan who brings six cans of food to the ticket office will receive a free reserved ticket for Saturday’s game. That food will be donated to Ogden’s Catholic Community Services food pantry.

The night also brings a bonus bobblehead giveaway for the first 500 people, but the character on the bobblehead is being kept a secret.

To top it off, Ogden jazz legend Joe McQueen, 99, will reprise his opening-night gig by again playing the national anthem on his saxophone.

TREEO SENIOR LIVING/SENIOR FIRST PITCH

For Thursday, Aug. 23, the final game of the homestand, fans can go to Treeo Senior Living in South Ogden and pick up free general admission tickets.

For Treeo’s night, longtime Ogden resident Ray Needham will throw out the first pitch. Needham is 90 years old and played Ogden City junior rec baseball, winning the league championship in 1945. Thanks to the “Livin’ the Dream” program, Needham will return to the ballfield to throw out the first pitch.

OTHER PROMOTIONS

Other promotions running during the homestand are: Free Raptors T-Shirt for the first 300 fans (Friday, Aug. 17); Oggie the Raptor mini-bobblehead giveaway to the first 500 fans (Monday, Aug. 20); Free hot dog with purchase of 20 oz beer or 32 oz soda (Tuesday, Aug. 21); Free Raptors poster to the first 500 fans (Wednesday, Aug. 22).

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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