A slew of walks and a pair of errors put Ogden behind early but, a bunch of strikeouts later, the Raptors were victors.
Six Ogden pitchers racked up 17 strikeouts and gave up two total hits, and the Raptors defeated the Idaho Falls Chukars 5-3 on Friday night at Melaleuca Field, winning Game 1 of the Pioneer League Championship Series.
The series moves to Lindquist Field, starting with Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with Ogden needing one win to claim their second league title in three seasons.
The game nearly went off the rails for the Raptors in the third and fourth innings. Ogden starter Juan Morillo walked the first two batters in the bottom of the third. An ensuing bunt attempt resulted in a throwing error from Raptors catcher Ramon Rodriguez to push a run across.
Later, Sauryn Lao tried to throw home from third base to catch Idaho Falls’ lead runner and threw it in the dirt. It skipped away, Lao was charged an error, two runs scored and the Chukars led 3-0.
Jacob Cantleberry took over on the mound and struck out two Chukars in order to end the third inning.
But, after Marco Hernandez scored on an Ismael Alcantara double in the top of the fourth to make it 3-1, Cantleberry issued three straight walks to load the bases in the bottom half.
Corey Merrill took over for Cantleberry and stunningly struck out the next three batters to escape the jam.
It was a crucial save for Ogden, who then took the lead in the next half-inning.
Andy Pages led off the top of the fifth with a single and came around to score on a fielding error, making it 3-2. Jimmy Titus drove in Zac Ching for the tying run with a sacrifice fly, then a Jon Littell RBI groundout scored Lao for a 4-3 Ogden lead.
Lao reached on an error in the seventh and later scored on a Titus single.
Ogden pitchers issued six walks in the first four innings but zero in the final five. Merrill earned the win, striking out seven batters in three innings of middle relief.
Merrill struck out the side in the crucial fourth, did it again in the sixth, and Mitchell Tyranski also claimed the feat in the eighth.
Rodriguez hit 3 for 4 at the plate for Ogden. Pages and Hernandez added two hits.