First, the weather threatened to postpone the Ogden Raptors' Independence Day game. Then, the Rocky Mountain Vibes pitching staff threatened to shut down Ogden's offense.
In the end, the game was played and the Raptors came through with their season-high fifth-straight win, 4-2, over the visiting Vibes.
The Raptors' first time hosting on the Fourth of July since 2015 was delayed five minutes, and then Ogden scuffled by sending the minimum to the plate in the first three innings. In the fifth, Jon Littell drew a leadoff walk and Sauryn Lao pounded the ball into the ground for a high-bouncing infield single. With two out, Zac Ching lined a single to right field to plate Littell and move Lao to third. Ching then broke for second base and stopped as the throw came down, allowing Lao to score on the back end of the double-steal to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Alfredo Tavarez was solid in his start on the mound, giving up a couple of soft hits including a pop-fly double with two out in the second to score a run. Tavarez didn't allow any further runs as he worked around runners in scoring position in every inning.
After Tavarez left, the Vibes tied the game. Ricardo Hernandez walked the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth, and with two out the runner scored from second on a hit to right field.
Neither team scored in the seventh, and Corey Merrill turned in a 1-2-3 top-of-the-eighth.
The Vibes brought in a new pitcher for the bottom of the eighth. Sam McWilliams hammered the first pitch of the frame to left for a home run to put Ogden back in the lead. Brandon Lewis then doubled to left field. Joe Vranesh hit a fly ball to deep right, and Lewis tagged to go to third. The throw sailed by the bag and got stuck in the padding along the side wall - ruled out of play, Lewis was granted home plate for a two-run lead.
Merrill came out for the ninth and struck out the first two batters before allowing a double, but a flyout to left field ended the game.
The Raptors' win and Grand Junction's loss put Ogden five games ahead of the Rockies at the halfway mark of the first half.
Game two between the Raptors and Vibes is Friday night at 7:00. It's a Free Tee Friday, with the first 300 fans through the gates receiving a free Raptors T-shirt. There will also be postgame fireworks.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.