Pioneer League preview: Which trend will decide Ogden vs. Great Falls?

Wednesday , September 13, 2017 - 11:30 AM

BRIAN WOLFER/Special to the Standard-Examiner

Ogden Raptors catcher Ramon Rodriguez tags out Great Falls runner Logan Taylor (14) at home plate preventing the score in a game Aug. 17, 2017, at Lindquist Field in Ogden. The two teams square off for the Pioneer League Championship this weekend.

BRETT HEIN, Standard-Examiner Staff

Editor’s Note: The Raptors have moved game time to 5 p.m. for Thursday’s Game 1 at Lindquist Field to avoid inclement weather. 

OGDEN — When the Ogden Raptors host the Great Falls Voyagers on Thursday, it will be a repeat of the 2011 Pioneer League Championship Series.

That was the last time Great Falls made the final series, which it won, while Ogden’s last appearance came a year later in 2012.

Great Falls has won 12 league championships dating back to 1939, six of them coming after the league permanently expanded to eight teams in 1978.

Ogden has won only six, none since the Ogden Dodgers won four in a row ending in 1969, and none since the Raptors were born in 1994.

For this series, the story is how the way the two teams fared in 2017 runs opposite of how they played against each other.

> 5 reasons to watch the Ogden Raptors play for the Pioneer League Championship

The Raptors sport a franchise-best regular-season record of 47-29, which is 13 games better than the Voyagers’ season mark of 34-42.

But in 2017, Great Falls won the season series against Ogden 4-3. All seven games came in August, concluding with a 19-2 walloping on Aug. 17. Ogden won nine of its next 11 after that lopsided loss.


CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE

Game 1: at Ogden — 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14
Tickets are $5 for all seats

Game 2: at Great Falls — 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16
Game 3*: at Great Falls — 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept 17
* - if necessary


Raptors pitcher Adalberto Pena is the expected starter for Thursday’s Game 1. He’s given up only two earned runs in his last three starts across a total of 13 1/3 innings — but he was the starter in that Aug. 17 blowout loss, walking three and giving up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Two of Great Falls’ other wins against Ogden came by scores of 15-10 and 11-6, so the Raptors have a history of letting things get away from them against the Voyagers this year.

For the season, Ogden led the Pioneer League in hitting with a team average of .319, hit 104 home runs and totaled 115 stolen bases.

Great Falls, on the other hand, hit .276 with 72 home runs and only 36 stolen bases (Ogden’s Brayan Morales led the league with 29 swipes by himself).

Ogden’s three wins against the Voyagers were all close, low-scoring affairs (by Pioneer League standards) — 6-4, 5-2 and 5-3.

In two of the wins, Osiris Ramirez started for the Raptors — the same pitcher who threw five scoreless innings to lead Sunday’s Game 1 win against Orem. Starters aren’t set past Thursday, but Ramirez should be available to start Game 2 on Saturday if the Raptors desire.

The series could be decided by which pattern prevails — the season-long trend in which Ogden was dominant, or the teams’ series where Great Falls had the upper hand.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.