The Ogden Raptors have won their first Pioneer League Championship in 24 years, under first-year head coach Mark Kertenian. The Raptors defeated the Great Falls Voyagers, the Chicago White Sox rookie league affiliate, 8-3 in the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday. The Raptors won the first game of the three-game series, 7-4 at Lindquist Field in Ogden. They lost in the first game of the twin bill 15-3 on Sunday to tie the series entering the final game. Setting up a winner take all, finale.
Ogden Raptors Win Pioneer League Championship
Ogden scored two runs in the first inning to jump ahead. The Los Angeles Dodgers rookie league affiliate enjoyed an excellent start from RHP Edwin Uceta. The Raptors pulled away in the top of the sixth inning when they strung together doubles by Donovan Casey, Luis Paz, and Romer Cuadrado to expand their lead back to five runs, after the Voyagers scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Connor Costello threw a scoreless inning of relief in the sixth to earn the win. In the seventh, lefty reliever, Justin Hoyt induced a fly ball to center, Brayan Morales secured the final out, and the team erupted as they realized their dream of a championship in 2017.
An offensive machine all season long, the Raptors led the Pioneer League in batting average (.319), and they were second in home runs (104). The Raptors pitching staff ERA was third in the Pioneer League at 5.46, which may not seem impressive, but for the elevation and small stadiums, it was more than effective.
Led by first-year Manager Kertenian, the Ogden Raptors flourished under his masterful leadership and guidance. The former college coach has a great way of communicating with players.
When asked about his team, Kertenian responded, “We had a true team in Ogden this season. Our staff utilized each other and the players valued everything thrown at them. We have a special organization and amazing level of support. We are all honored to be here and demonstrated that to one another, daily.”
His staff included Hitting Coach, Justin Viele, Coach Pedro Guerrero as well as Pitching Coach Bobby Cuellar. These coaches did a tremendous job to prepare the players during the season and help with their adjustments; developing them into champions.
@ogdenraptors are champions!!!! Congratulations to everybody that has impacted this team. So happy so many great vibes!
— Justin Viele (@cmardukis) September 18, 2017
The Dodgers coaching staff, roving instructors, Gabe Kapler, Dodgers front office, and entire organization should be very proud of the effort of the Ogden Raptors.
Raptors outfielder, Casey said this just after the game Sunday, “This was probably one of the best experiences of my life and to win a championship with this group of guys was amazing.”
The Dodgers are truly building strong men first, and forging champions as a result. Once again, the Dodgers future looks very bright.
Main Photo: Courtesy Ogden Raptors Team Photographer Kevin Johnson, All Rights Reserved