The Ogden Raptors fell behind in the first inning Saturday night in Missoula, but thanks to a Ronny Brito three-run homer, a crucial Missoula error and stellar relief work, the Raptors staved off elimination for one more day.
The magic number for the Orem Owlz to clinch the first-half Pioneer League South division title is one, meaning one Orem win or one Ogden loss will guarantee the Owlz a playoff spot. Orem lost to Great Falls by a final of 6-5, pulling the Raptors within five game with six left to play in the half. Orem, however, holds the tiebreaker advantage.
Missoula went on top in the bottom of the first on a Brito throwing error, scoring a run from second on what would have been the third out. The Osprey added a run when Juan Araujo was hit by an Osiris Ramirez pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the third.
Starling Heredia popped up to open the top of the fourth, but the ball dropped past second baseman Brandon Leyton and Heredia stood on second. After a groundout, Hendrik Clementina drew a walk to bring Brito to the plate. The young shortstop made up for his defensive miscue by crushing the ball over the fence in left-center field for a 3-2 lead.
Eduardo Diaz, who scored all three Missoula runs, tied the game when he was hit by a pitch with two out and the bases empty in the sixth, moved to second on a balk, stole third and scampered home on a Francis Cespedes wild pitch.
Cespedes earned the victory when Brayan Morales crushed a double leading off the top of the seventh, and Connor Heady laid down a sacrifice bunt. Missoula pitcher Rafael Pujols wheeled and threw to third, where Morales was already standing, and the throw escaped down the left field line to allow Morales to trot home.
Conor Costello pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Raptors, getting help from Romer Cuadrado twice in his first frame. The leadoff batter popped up down the right field line, dropping it past the sliding Heady, but Cuadrado alertly barehanded the ball and threw a strike to Brito covering second to get the batter trying to stretch a single into a double. With two out, Ernie De La Trinidad took a walk, and when Joel Novas singled to right he tried to take third. Cuadrado fired a laser to third baseman Brock Carpenter on the fly to retire De La Trinidad by 15 feet.
Having used Miguel Ureña Friday night, the Raptors turned to Vinny Santarsiero in the ninth. the towering righty got a groundout but gave up a hit and a walk to put the potential tying run in scoring position, but a one-hopper back to the mound was turned into a game-ending double play.
The Raptors look for the four-game sweep Sunday evening at 5:15, after which they'll head to Helena for a three-game set.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.