|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Raptors walk off with first-half crown07/29/2012 1:35 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
It wouldn't be the Pioneer League playoffs if the Ogden Raptors weren't invited.
Ogden wrapped up the South Division first-half title Saturday night, rallying for an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the visiting Orem Owlz.
Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Raptors tied it when Jesus Valdez and Pat Stover scored on an error by second baseman Sherman Johnson.
Malcom Holland drew a leadoff walk in the 10th, stole second and took third on Jeremy Rathjen's sacrifice. The Owlz chose to walk Eric Smith and Valdez to load the bases, but Stover foiled the strategy with a walk-off single to right field.
"It was a good game," Raptors manager Damon Berryhill said. "We battled the whole time and came up big in the ninth and walked off in the 10th.
"They knew what was at stake and they were involved in the game the whole time and they made it a goal to go out and try to win a first-half [crown]. They were up for the challenge and tonight we got down and we never gave up and felt like they were going to win it the whole time."
The come-from-behind victory sent Ogden to the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
"It's always outstanding," said Berryhill, who spent 10 seasons in the Majors. "As a manager, as a coaching staff, we're here to develop and try and get these guys acclimated to pro ball. But winning is a big part of development, too. You don't play the game just to try to get guys better."
"We always talk about, 'Hey, we're gonna play hard and do everything we can to get better.' It makes it a lot easier if you're going out and competing and winning ballgames. Guys are going to develop a bit quicker and, heck, the game is a lot more fun if you're winning."
Rathjen went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .359, while Stover drove in two runs and scored three times. Corey Seager, the Dodgers' first-round pick in last month's Draft, contributed two hits and an RBI.
"Rathjen ... has been in our leadoff spot and has been swinging the bat well," Berryhill said. "Defensively, he's been solid and has been getting on base consistently. We have a young kid, Seager, who is just getting introduced to baseball, who is mature above his age and who has a calm demeanor about him. Stover came up really big for us tonight and he's been a pleasant surprise. These guys are starting to understand what pro ball is all about and how to go about it day to day."
Craig Stem (3-0) got the win after allowing one hit in a scoreless inning.
The Great Falls Voyagers wrapped up the first-half North Division crown earlier this week.