After a thunderstorm interrupted Tuesday’s series finale in Colorado Springs, the Ogden Raptors trekked west to the mesas of Grand Junction to open a four-game series against a Rockies team with a slim lead on the Pioneer League South Division’s second playoff berth.
The Rockies learned what the rest of the division will face: whoever claims the division’s second playoff spot may come down to who can crack the Raptors best.
It was no dice for the Rockies on Wednesday, who gave up a two-run lead in a 5-3 defeat to the Raptors at Suplizio Field.
Mark Mixon deservedly picked up the win for Ogden (45-14, 14-7) by throwing perfect frames in the sixth and seventh innings.
Mixon was the pitcher of record when the Raptors broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth inning. Zac Ching and Sauryn Lao hit consecutive singles to lead off the frame and were moved up to scoring position on a Jimmy Titus sacrifice bunt.
With two outs, Ching scored on a wild pitch and Lao scored when Andrew Shaps singled, accounting for the 5-3 final.
Raptors relievers Nick Robertson (eighth inning) and Reza Aleaziz (ninth) each put a baserunner on but otherwise pitched around it. Aleaziz earned his fifth save of the season.
Ogden outfielder Andy Pages again figured in the Raptors’ early scoring.
Pages singled in the first inning, as did Zac Ching. Sauryn Lao roped a double to centerfield to score Pages, but Ching was thrown out at the plate on the play.
By the fourth, Grand Junction had taken a 3-1 lead, including a solo homer from Colin Simpson.
Ogden tied it up in the sixth when Pages and Ching hit consecutive doubles to make it 3-2, then Ching scored on a Jon Littell single.
With Rocky Mountain’s blowout win over Orem (24-36, 11-11), Grand Junction (27-32, 8-13) saw its overall standings lead over Rocky Mountain (26-33, 9-12) shrink to one game. If Ogden wins the second half like it did the first (the Raptors currently have a 3.5-game lead over Orem in the second-half standings), the next-best overall season record earns the second playoff bid.
The two teams continue their series at 6:40 p.m. Thursday.