The Ogden Raptors began their Pioneer League championship defense Friday night and, for much of the game, it appeared everything was going swimmingly.
But baseball games are nine-inning affairs. Ogden was blistered for six runs in the ninth, turning a 5-2 lead into an 8-5 defeat at the hands of the Grand Junction Rockies in Game 1 of the South Division series.
The Raptors now face elimination in the best-of-three series and the two teams play Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Lindquist Field.
Hits were hard to come by for most of the game but Ogden made the most of their five hits through seven innings.
Dillon Paulson blasted a 430-foot homer in the first inning to put the Raptors ahead 2-0.
Grand Junction slowly chipped away, even without scoring. The Rockies put their leadoff batter on base in six of the nine innings, including the first three.
They got on the board in the second when Grant Lavigne singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on two groundouts.
But Caleb Sampen, Reza Aleaziz and Justin Bruihl fought off the pressure and Grand Junction batted only 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings.
The Rockies finally broke through in the seventh against Justin Hagenman when Niko Decolati led off with a single, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single, tying the game 2-2.
Ogden immediately answered. Ronny Brito scored on a daring double steal before Tre Todd went yard, a two-run shot to put the Raptors up 5-2 and six outs away from victory.
The Rockies then hit 4 of 6 with runners in scoring position in the ninth and beat up Luis Pasen to steal the win.
With two outs, Hunter Stovall beat out an infield single to push across a run and make it 5-4. Coco Montes then singled and Daniel Robinson appeared to have Will Golsan dead to rights at the plate, but catcher Ramon Rodriguez couldn’t handle the throw. That tied the game 5-5.
The Rockies finished the scoring on a bases-loaded wild pitch and a bases-loaded single.
In the North Division series, Great Falls edged Billings 3-2 in Game 1.