Raptors baseball back in full swing

John Keeffer

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Jose Chacin pitching against Orem. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

The defending Pioneer League champions, the Ogden Raptors, were back in town for their first two home games of the season on June 19 and 20. This Pioneer League season marks the 25th anniversary of the team being in Ogden.

It’s a different team than last year’s championship squad as there are only ten returning players from the 2017 squad who won a team-record 47 regular season games.

After starting the season 1–3, the Raptors split four games with the Orem Owlz, bringing their season record to 3–5.

The Raptors picked up their second victory of the season in the home opener, defeating the Owlz 7–2. The tone was set early when local jazz legend Joe McQueen played the national anthem on his saxophone, and the club raised its 2017 championship banner in front of 4,833 fans at Lindquist Field.

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6/ 20 Raptors vs Orem. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

In game two, the Raptors were led by right-handed pitcher Jose Chacin out of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezeula. Chacin led a pitching battle early on, and the game was scoreless through four frames. At one point, Chacin struck out five consecutive batters en route to five shutout innings.

“I was really impressed by what I saw from Chacin,” manager Jeremy Rodriguez said. “He struggled in his first showing up in Idaho Falls (on June 15), so it was really good to see him get back on track. He throws a mean fastball that is hard to hit when he is on.”

The Raptors’ bats warmed up in the fifth inning as right fielder Daniel Robinson hit a booming triple off the center field wall. He was then driven in on a single by second baseman Jeremy Arocho to give Ogden a 1–0 lead.

The Raptors extended their lead in the sixth inning as left fielder Niko Hulsizer walked and later scored on a wild pitch to give the team a 2–0 lead heading into the seventh.

The Raptors maintaned their slim advantage heading into the ninth inning, but a late rally allowed the Owlz to steal the victory.

Vinny Santarsiero took over pitching duties in the top of the ninth and immediately allowed two hits, including a two-run home run given up to Orlando Martinez to tie the game. He also walked one and hit another before being pulled for Jasiel Alvino.

Alvino struck out three batters, but a fielding error by third baseman Jeffrey Souffront allowed Tim Millard to score and give the Owlz a 3–2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.

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Pitcher Jose Chacin warming up before game against Orem. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

Alvaro Rubi and Chris Roller singled to put runners on the corners with two outs for the Raptors. However, Jeremy Arocho hit a comebacker to the mound to end the game.

“Not the way we wanted the game to end, but we’re not going to get discouraged,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a long season, and we have a lot of talent on this team.”

The Raptors traveled to Orem for the final two games of the series. Ogden won the first game 75 miles south 9–3 behind three home runs before they fell 12–3 to ensure the split.