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Victory Guarantees Winning First Half

Newcomer Donovan Casey sparks comeback with first pro home run, three runs scored
Ogden relievers Justin Hoyt, right, and Jeff Paschke, second from left, combined with Devin Hemmerich to shut down Helena after starter Gregorio Sequera left the game (Kevin Johnson)
July 26, 2017

One year after closing the first half of the Pioneer League season on a run to finish a respectable 17-21, the Ogden Raptors have secured a winning first half as they look to build momentum heading into the second half of the 2017 season.A Tuesday night win against the Helena

One year after closing the first half of the Pioneer League season on a run to finish a respectable 17-21, the Ogden Raptors have secured a winning first half as they look to build momentum heading into the second half of the 2017 season.
A Tuesday night win against the Helena Brewers, by a final of 9-3, was victory number 20 on the campaign against only 15 losses, meaning Ogden has a chance to beat their 2016 second-half South division title record of 21-17, also the mark for the Raptors' most-recent first-half title team, in 2012.
Thanks to Orem sewing up this year's first-half championship, the Raptors aren't in the hunt for a playoff spot until the second half begins. They can, however, still spoil the party for Helena, and that's just what Ogden is on the verge of doing, with the result dropping Helena to three games out in the North division with three to go in the first half.
Tuesday's game was a pitchers' duel for the first three innings, as each team stroked only two hits and no one made it to third base.
In the home half of the fourth, Helena ended their goose eggs as both Zach Clark and Chad McClanahan hit solo home runs off Ogden starter Gregorio Sequera.
Seeing the ball fly out must have awakened the Raptors' bats, as they plated three in the top of the fifth. Donovan Casey, the Dodgers' 20th-round pick in 2017 out of Boston College, led off and worked the count full in his second at-bat with Ogden. The payoff pitch was crushed to center field, and it hit off the very top of the fence and bounced over. It was Casey's first professional home run, as he had not homered with the Arizona League Dodgers in five games since signing with Los Angeles.
With one out in the same frame, Connor Heady drew his second walk. A ground ball from Ronny Brito scooted through the legs of Helena shortstop Antonio Pinero, putting runners on the corners. Brito stole second, and with two out Luis Paz dumped a humpback line drive into right-center field to score both runners and take a 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers tied the game after a would-be double play ball was thrown away at first to allow Dallas Carroll to take second, and another throwing error attempting to erase him there moved him to third. Finally, a wild pitch from Sequera brought Carroll across and ended the starting pitcher's night.
Ogden opened the sixth against Helena's second pitcher, Dylan File, and Jared Walker immediately reached with an infield hit. Casey hit a slow chop toward short, but Pinero, trying to start a double play, threw the ball away at second and both runners were safe. A high bouncer on the infield from Kevin LaChance was grabbed by File, but he fired down the right field line, putting LaChance at second and scoring both Walker and Casey. With two away, Brito laced a double off the right field fence, and LaChance scored easily.
Casey was the instigator again in the eighth, when he beat out a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop for a one-out infield hit. Heady pulled a shot inside the third base bag to put two in scoring position, and Brito knocked in his second and third runs with a single through the left side before taking third when left fielder Nicolas Pierre air-mailed his throw home. Finally, Starling Heredia closed the scoring with an infield hit on a ground ball down the third base line to bring Brito across.
Ogden's bullpen once again put together a dominant outing. Jeff Paschke retired the final hitter of the fifth in place of Sequera before a scoreless sixth inning. Devin Hemmerich allowed only one batter to reach in two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, and Justin Hoyt overpowered the Brewers by striking out the side in the ninth on 10 pitches to end the game.
The final scheduled game between Ogden and Helena in 2017 will be played Wednesday night at 7:05. Following the game, the Raptors will return home to prepare for a four-game series with the Grand Junction Rockies, which starts Thursday. The series will feature nightly promotions such as Thirsty Thursday, with $2 12-ounce domestic cans and draft beer along with half-price fountain drinks, Free Tee Friday, where the first 300 fans will receive a special edition Raptors T-shirt, Date Night Saturday, where you buy your ticket and the Raptors will pay for your date's ticket, and Aloha Sunday, when you can wear your favorite casual Hawaiian attire and the Raptors will be in new Hawaiian-themed jerseys of their own. Also, kids 12 and under get in completely free on Sundays.