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Movin’ on: Provo Angels knock Ogden Raptors from playoffs

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OGDEN — Perhaps the third time will be the charm for the Provo Angels.

Behind a near-perfect pitching performance by pitcher Michel Simard in Provo's 6-1 victory over Ogden in the decisive Game 3 of the Pioneer League playoffs Monday, the Angels will be making their third consecutive trip to the league's championship series.

Provo manager Tom Kotchman is hoping the result will be different.

"We're playing and that's what it's about this time of year," he said. "We're close. We need to go and play."

Provo will begin the three-game championship series against Billings Wednesday night in Provo.

"We definitely need the day off physically and mentally. We have guys banged up," Kotchman said. "I'm happy for our guys."

In their inaugural season two years ago the Angels were swept 2-0 by Billings, and last year the lost in three games to the Great Falls Dodgers.

The Angels won a league-tying 54 wins, but dropped the first game of the playoff series to Ogden Saturday, 4-2. They bounced back with 20-5 victory Sunday to force the final game.

Amazingly, the Angels started the year 9-11 and went 43-11 (30-8 in the second half) the remainder of the season.

The Raptors finished the regular season 34-41 and 1-2 in the postseason.

After allowing a first-inning home run to Ogden's Xavier Paul, Simard was downright stingy. He allowed just two more hits through seven innings and struck out eight in earning the win. He entered Monday's contest with a 2.08 ERA and he had fanned 53 in 52 innings.

In his last 3 1/3 innings he was unhittable as he retired 13 straight before giving way to reliever David Austen to start the eighth.

"He had never gone seven before and he was right at 95 pitches," Kotchman said. "We could have stretched him one more, but what was the point? He had done his job."

Austen picked up right where Simard left off and retired the next six to end the game.

The two teams traded runs in the first innings on a solo inside-the-park homer by Provo's Howard Kendrick and solo homer by Paul.

The Angels broke the game open with three runs in the third inning. Kenning and Matt Pali added solo homers in the seventh and eighth inning, respectively.

Kenning and Wilson combined for four of Provo's seven hits, while Jereme Milons, Ryan Carter and Paul had Ogden's only hits.

E-MAIL: jhinton@desnews.com