Raptors' Herrera plays Ghosts-buster

Hit grand slam, collects career-high seven RBIs in 11-9 win

(Jerry Hale/MLB.com)

By Steve Conley / Special to MLB.com | August 2, 2008 9:28 PM ET

According to his manager, Elian Herrera has been one of the most valuable players on the Ogden Raptors. He proved it again on Saturday night.

Herrera hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high seven runs to power the Raptors to an 11-9 victory over the Casper Ghosts at Crossroads Ballpark.

The 23-year-old left fielder delivered a two-run double in the second inning, then blasted his first career grand slam and third homer of the year in the fourth to give the Raptors (2-3) an 8-5 lead. He doubled home another run in the sixth to cap his career night, surpassing a four-RBI effort against Helena last Aug. 22.

"I just try to make contact every time," said Herrera, who raised his batting average to .333. "I feel great. I was very happy to get the first grand slam."

The switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic has hit safely in 20 of 26 games this season, including seven of his last eight. He has 10 multi-hit efforts while playing first base, second base and all three outfield positions.

"He had a huge night for us," Ogden manager Mike Brumley said. "He hit the grand slam in a close game and hit a big double batting right-handed later in the game. He's been consistent all season and a valuable part of this team."

Herrera signed with the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent in 2003 and hit .255 with 14 doubles and 34 RBIs in 70 games at three levels a year ago. He had been hitting just .172 against left-handed pitching as opposed to .385 against righties.

"He's strengthening that [right] side of his game," Brumley said. "That will come with time. He's just got to continue to play his role and show his value, and hopefully he can move up to the higher levels."

Travis Vetters doubled twice and drove in two runs and Jessie Mier had two hits and scored three times for the Raptors.

Ogden's Jonathan Dutton (5-2) won his third straight start, despite allowing six runs on 14 hits with one strikeout over five frames. Matthew Smith pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings to earn his first save, striking out six of the eight batters he faced.

Casper starter Marco Duarte (2-4) surrendered eight runs on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings, walking two and fanning two.

Chad Jacobsen went 3-for-5, Maikol Gonzalez chipped in two hits and two RBIs and Eliezer Mesa and Joseph Massey each singled twice and scored twice for the Ghosts (3-2).

Steve Conley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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