With his high school baseball coach and Tommy Lasorda looking on, DJ Peters homered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie, lifting the Raptors (17-14) over the Chukars (13-18). The 3-2 win came in front of a season high 5,720 fans at Lindquist Field. For the home fans, it was a thrilling ending to a sharply played game with a playoff atmosphere.
The teams are in the middle of an eight-game series, with four at each park. The home team has won 12 of the 13 games this year. The lone road win was on Wednesday, when Ogden finally broke the curse of Melaleuca Field, in which they had 11 straight losses dating back to last season. The Game Birds haven't faired that much better in Ogden, losing its last seven games at Lindquist, dating back to last season.
Ogden's 6' 10" starter Nolan Long had command of his big curve ball and only gave up two runs in six innings. Incredibly, he only faced three batters over the minimum, thanks to three double play balls. He gave up a solo shot to Angelo Castellano in the second, and threw a wild pitch to score Rudy Martin in the sixth. It was an otherwise stellar night for the 6' 10" Long, who also played basketball for Wagner College, lowering his ERA to 5.27.
The bullpen was just as good, holding the team with the league's best batting average (.302) to just one hit over the final three innings. Hard-throwing newcomer Adalberto Pena (1-0) struck out five batters in 2 1/3 innings, and got the win in his first outing as a Raptor. Pena was called up from the Arizona league four days ago. Vinny Santarsiero, who was signed by the Dodger organization on August 19, closed out the game to get the save. He has pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Raptors and has a 0.00 ERA. With the Raptors wearing their Dodger blue uniforms with the red numbers, the tall, thin Santarsiero conjured images of Orel Hershiser, with the same number 55 and his long name filling the back of his jersey. Perhaps he brought back World Series memories of The Bulldog for Mr. Lasorda.
All three Raptor runs came on solo blasts by Luis Paz (5), Cody Thomas (14), and DJ Peters (11). Paz and Thomas went back-to-back in the second inning. Thomas is now two back of Helena's Ronnie Gideon for the league lead. Peters' homer came with his high school coach, Ray Bundy, watching from the stands. Bundy coached Peters at Glendora High School. He got the fireworks started early on Firework Friday at Lindquist Field.
Ogden has the league's best slugging percentage at .479. With a double in the first, Keibert Ruiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Dodger first-rounder and recent call-up Gavin Lux went 1-3 in his second game as a Raptor.
Ogden is still a half game back of Grand Junction, who defeated Orem in 15 innings. The Raptors only have three home games left, unless they make the playoffs. Ogden heads to Grand Junction for a season ending battle for the playoffs on Monday.
The same teams meet up in a double-header tomorrow night, starting at 5:00 PM, MDT, and will finish the series Sunday. The double-header tomorrow is due to Thursday's rain-out. Those who had tickets for the rain-out game can exchange them for any of the Raptors' remaining home games. It's also date night: buy a ticket and your date gets in free. If you can't make it to the game, make sure to listen to the one-and-only A.P. Harreld on the call. You can hear him on the Ogden Raptors station on the free TuneIn app, with no sign-up required.