Rodriguez, Raptors claw way into Finals

Catcher reaches on error in 10th for Pioneer semifinal sweep

The Ogden Raptors are two wins away from their second Pioneer League title in a three-year span. (Ogden Raptors)

By Jordan Wolf / | September 10, 2019 3:09 AM

Ramon Rodriguez went hitless for Rookie Advanced Ogden in Game 2 of the Pioneer League semifinals, but his last trip to the plate sent the Raptors to the Championship Series all the same.

With two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, Rodriguez reached on an error and Jorbit Vivas bolted in to score the winning run as Ogden defeated Grand Junction, 6-5, on Monday at Lindquist Field. There were eight lead changes or ties over the course of the game.

Gameday box score

"Out of all of our opponents, Grand Junction [has] played us the toughest all year," Raptors manager Austin Chubb said. "It was satisfying, because we knew it was going to be a pretty tough series against them."

The Rockies jumped out to a lead in the top of the first inning when Colin Simpson drove in Julio Carreras with a sacrifice fly, but the Raptors responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Zac Ching doubled in Jeremy Arocho to put Ogden on the board. Two batters later, Imanol Vargas plated Andy Pages with a go-ahead sacrifice fly.

But Grand Junction hit back in the second, adding two more runs on an RBI double by Julio Carreras and a run-scoring single by Ezequiel Tovar. The Raptors' bats went silent until the fifth, when Pages clubbed a two-run dinger to left center to pull ahead.

The pendulum once again swung the other way in the eighth as Ronaiker Palma delivered a game-tying RBI single for the Rockies. In the bottom of the inning, Ogden retook the lead on a solo homer by Sauryn Lao  that carried out on a brisk night that Chubb said kept a lot of balls in the yard.

"Lao got into that ball," he said. "He squared that up really good."

The Raptors turned to Reza Aleaziz to close the game in the ninth, but Simpson socked an RBI double to tie it before the right-hander recorded an out. Aleaziz (1-0) stopped the damage there, allowing one hit over the remainder of the two innings.

"I was just really proud of Reza Aleaziz," Chubb said. "He gives up the tying run, but then comes out and throws a scoreless 10th. ... Hats off to him for battling."

Complete postseason coverage

With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Vivas was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a single by Marco Hernandez. With two down, Hernandez took off for second base as Rodriguez -- who was 0-for-4 coming into the at-bat -- lined a sharp grounder to Tovar at shortstop.

"With Hernandez in motion and he was running, I didn't know if [Tovar] was going to try to make a quick throw to second for the forceout, or if that rushed him," Chubb said.

The ball popped off the backhand side of Tovar's glove into the air and he was unable to make a play as Rodriguez raced down the line to first and Vivas jetted home.

Ogden is headed to the best-of-3 Finals, where it will face the winner of Tuesday's decisive Game 3 between Billings and Idaho Falls.

"We're obviously excited," Chubb said. "We'll have two days off now. ... I'm confident in our guys, but we'll do our best and see what happens in the Championship Series."

In other Pioneer League playoff action:

Mustangs 4, Chukars 3

Billings used a sixth-inning rally to stay alive. Trailing with one out, 3-2, Victor Ruiz singled and Leonardo Seminati doubled him in. Two batters later, Reniel Ozuna knocked in Seminati to take the lead. Ozuna finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Left-hander Alec Byrdearned the win with 1 1/3 hitless innings, striking out three. Jose Adames got the save by fanning two of three batters he faced in the ninth. Gameday box score

Jordan Wolf is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @byjordanwolf. View More