In a game full of missed opportunities, Andrew Shaps created one for himself and the Ogden Raptors are one game from advancing to the Pioneer League title series.
With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Shaps lifted an 0-2 pitch to right field, just clearing the wall and giving Ogden a 2-1 victory over the Grand Junction Rockies on Sunday night at Suplizio Field in Game 1 of the South Division series.
Ogden was 5-5 in the regular season at Suplizio Field, losing three times in walk-off fashion. But Raptors reliever Nick Robertson left no room for that in the bottom of the ninth, using 11 pitches to retire the Rockies in order with a strikeout, groundout and flyout.
The game went through five innings in a starters’ duel, though neither ended with a decision. Rockies starter Helcris Olivarez gave up two hits and struck out five. After walking a pair to load the bases with Raptors in the fourth, he picked up a strikeout and a groundout to escape with the game still 0-0.
But Olivarez walked Sauryn Lao to start the sixth inning and was removed.
With Boby Johnson taking over on the mound, Ogden first baseman Marco Hernandez singled and, with two outs, Ramon Rodriguez knocked a bouncing, infield single up the middle.
Jeremy Arocho then patiently drew a bases-loaded walk, pushing in Lao across and giving the Raptors a 1-0 lead.
Elio Serrano, who got through five scoreless inning s himself as Ogden’s starter, returned to the mound in the sixth inning and struck out the first batter. The Raptors elected to keep Serrano in to face Pioneer League MVP Colin Simpson for a third time and the slugger made them pay, blasting a solo homer to right field to tie it 1-1.
Grand Junction threatened to take the lead in the eighth inning. Jacob Cantleberry picked up two outs for Ogden and, after a team mound visit with manager Austin Chubb, the Raptors issued Simpson an intentional walk.
Brenton Doyle then singled Simpson over to third base, but Cantleberry struck out Bladimir Restituyo to leave Simpson stranded.
Ogden totaled six hits and no Raptor had more than one. Of the game’s 13 hits, the homers from Simpson and Shaps were the only ones that went for extra bases.
Game 2 is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Lindquist Field.