In the last game of the season, the Ogden Raptors lost to the Grand Junction Rockies in a lethargic effort as they mentally prepare for the playoffs. There was little energy for either side, as both teams' postseason fates were sealed last night.
Ogden will play a three-game set with the Orem Owlz in the semifinals of the Pioneer Baseball League (PBL) playoffs, starting tomorrow night in Ogden at Lindquist Field. Tickets are $5 and the game starts at 6:30PM. The series moves to Orem Saturday for game two, and Sunday for game three, if necessary.
Orem won the Southern Division first-half race with a tie-breaker over the Idaho Falls Chukars. Each team finished with a 22-16 record, but Orem had the better head-to-head record.
Ogden finished a half game up on the Grand Junction Rockies in the second half, with a 21-17 record. The half game difference was due to a Rockies' rainout that was not re-scheduled. Had the two teams finished in a tie, the tie-breaker would have gone to Ogden due to the head-to-head record.
The Idaho Falls Chukars actually finished with the best record in the Southern Division at 39-36, but do not advance to the playoffs due to the first-half/second-half format. Ogden suffered the same fate last year when they finished with the best record in the PBL at 43-33 but missed the postseason party.
The winner of the Ogden-Orem series will play the Northern Division champion. In the North, the Billings Mustangs, winners of the first-half, will play the Great Falls Voyagers, run-away winners of the second-half. The Voyagers finished the season on a 15-game winning streak before losing its last two games. They finished with a 47-28 overall record, six games ahead of the second best record (Billings). The Great Falls' pitching staff owns an ERA nearly a full run better than the next closest team, Billings.
Roberth Fernandez got the start tonight for the Raptors, and gave up five runs in four innings to get the loss (3-5). Grand Junction outhit the Raptors 14-4. They broke the the game open by scoring four runs on four hits in the fourth inning.
Ogden made two entries into the Raptor record book tonight. Brandon Montgomery hit his eighth triple of the season, tying the Raptor record held by Ryan Rogowski (2006) and Scott Schebler (2011). He also finished in a tie for the league lead. As a team, the 2016 Raptors hit 43 triples on the season, far surpassing the old team record of 35, set in 2003.
Much has been made of the power on this Raptor offense, and sure enough, it set a new team record for slugging percentage at .484, bettering the old record of .475, set in 2008. Ogden had three players in the top five in the league homer standings: Cody Thomas (16), DJ Peters (13), and Mitchell Hansen (11). Ronnie Gideon hit his 17th homer tonight to finish one ahead of Thomas.
With a long, late bus ride ahead of them, Ogden was content with what they accomplished in Grand Junction. Needing to win three of four games, the Raptors took the first three games. They'll arrive back in Ogden around 4:00 AM, get some sleep, then do battle with the Owlz.
If you can't make it to the game, you can catch the action on the Ogden Raptors Network on the free TuneIn app. The consummate play-by-play man A.P. Harreld will call the action, with a possible guest appearance by a familiar Raptor voice.