OGDEN — Niko Hulsizer stopped for a split second and stared. No one would’ve blamed him if he couldn’t see the home run ball he just crushed to left field.

The next stop for the ball was somewhere likely on 23rd Street. The next stop for the Ogden Raptors is Grand Junction, Colorado, on Sunday.

Ogden used three timely home runs, two from center fielder James Outman, to beat Grand Junction 7-5 Saturday at Lindquist Field in the second game of the Pioneer League South Divisional playoffs.

The win followed a gut-wrenching loss the night before, which meant the Raptors needed to win Saturday in the second of a best-of-three series or else their season was over.

“I think we went out there a little bit looser, knowing that we had nothing to lose at this point, and I feel like you always play better with your back against the wall a little bit,” Outman said.

Now it’s time for the gut-check moment, a winner-take-all game in Grand Junction on Sunday night to decide who heads to the Pioneer League Championship series.

Ogden had everything working the first two innings. Joel Inoa retired all six batters he faced and the Raptors scored a run in each inning, punctuated with a solo shot by Outman in the second inning that put Ogden ahead 2-0.

Grand Junction’s Daniel Montano broke up the two-inning perfect game with a line drive solo home run for Grand Junction.

Javier Guevara’s RBI single tied the game 2-2 and the fans started getting anxious, wondering if indeed this would be the final night of baseball at Lindquist Field for the season.

Outman crushed a three-run homer to right field to give the Raptors a 5-2 lead, some wind in their sails and a jolt to a crowd watching an otherwise slow-moving game.

The Raptors could’ve had even more runs in the fourth, but Moises Perez hit into an inning-ending double play.

It appeared as if that missed chance would rue Ogden once the Rockies scored two runs in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 5-4 and then loaded the bases with two outs.

By that time, Inoa had been replaced by Orlandy Navarro, who forced a popout to end the inning.

Hulsizer responded with his two-run shot to left field, the illuminated white circle of the ball quickly disappearing amongst the dusky sky still visible above Ben Lomond.

And still, the Rockies didn’t want to head back home for a deciding game. John Cresto drove in a run in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 7-5, but that was the last time they really threatened.

Great Falls awaits the South winner, defeating Billings 9-2 to sweep the North Division series.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

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