Raptors flip the script in Pioneer League

Ogden goes second-to-first in second half to clinch South title

Donovan Casey is hitting .408/.458/.612 with 32 RBIs in 37 games across two levels this season. (Kevin Johnson)

By Jonathan Raymond / MiLB.com | September 9, 2017 1:07 AM ET

Orem got the better of Ogden in the first half of the Pioneer League season. In the second half, though, the Rookie-level Raptors turned the tables.

Having already wrapped up a playoff berth, Ogden clinched the South Division second-half crown with a 7-4 victory over Idaho Falls, coupled with the Owlz's loss to Grand Junction.

"I'm not even sure the guys know right now," Raptors manager Mark Kertenian said since Orem's game ended after Ogden's. "But they've set themselves up through their day-to-day actions in the regular season and how they've gotten themselves to this point. The last two games, you'd think that we would have had a lull being traditional about clinching and we haven't been traditional about it.

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"These guys played hard last night, a great late-game victory and then tonight they played good baseball. I don't know that they are concerned with differences in games right now. Any chance they get to play they're gonna play hard and that's their decision they've made as a group."

Ogden split its first 28 games, then went on an 11-1 run to end the first half and secure a playoff spot, finishing 3 1/2 games behind Orem. That set the stage for the second half, where the Raptors have gone 24-13 to build a two-game lead over the Owlz entering Saturday's regular-season finale.

The Utah rivals will meet in a three-game semifinal series beginning Sunday. Kertenian praised his players' attitude and work ethic as they look forward to the playoffs.

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"I think we have a very unique situation where people are respecting people and valuing what they're gonna learn from one another and really admiring and feeding off of how they approach playing hard -- doing it together and knowing that they can't do it themselves," the skipper said. "That's the reality."

The Raptors have boasted an offense that can get hits in bunches, and that was the case Friday. They built off a four-run third inning in which Donovan Casey -- who's batting .401 in 32 games -- led off with a triple and scored on a base hit by Romer Cuadrado (.335).

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A stolen base later, Rylan Bannon (.336) singled to put runners at the corners. Carlos Rincon doubled in Cuadrado and Gersel Pitre (.346) singled in Bannon and Rincon. The Raptors added a run in the sixth and two in the eighth on a double by Casey.

Zach Hartman tossed two one-hit innings, walking one and striking out three, for his third save.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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