Ogden rips GJ, 13-2
Right now, the Ogden Raptors have the Grand Junction Rockies’ number.
It appears to be 13.
For the third time in seven games between the Pioneer League South Division teams, the Raptors scored 13 runs in a 13-2 rout Sunday at Suplizio Field. Ogden is 7-0 against the Rockies so far.
The Raptors (13-8) extended their South Division lead on the Rockies (10-11) to three games by peppering five Grand Junction pitchers for 16 runs, including a pair of home runs to blow it open in the middle innings.
“You look at the boxscore, we hit a lot of balls hard right at people and you can’t control that,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said. “What can you do?”
The Rockies were hitting line drives and fly balls, but the Raptors were finding gaps against starter Josh Mueller (1-3), especially in the fourth inning.
Ogden led only 1-0 at the time, but erupted for five runs, all with two out. Justin Boudreaux led off the inning with a double to the left-field corner, but Mueller retired the next two batters on ground balls.
Kevin Thompson singled, scoring Boudreaux, then stole second. A wild pitch on ball four allowed Thompson to get to third. Tae-Hyeok Nam doubled to center to score two runs andJeremy Rathjen and Pat Stover hit back-to-back singles, ending Mueller’s day.
By the time Patrick Johnson got out of the inning, 10 Raptors had batted and they led 6-0.
Through seven innings, the Rockies had only four base runners, and none got past second until they threatened in the eighth.
Ashley Graeter, making his pro debut after being signed earlier this week, singled to right for his first professional hit. It’s been almost a month since he’s played. He lined out to second in his first at-bat and struck out in the fifth inning before singling his next two times up.
“I told myself that I was going to at least sacrifice my first at-bat trying to get my timing,” Graeter said. “I’ve been standing there watching pitchers just to see live arms. I wasn’t giving up my at-bat, but I needed to see some pitches to get my timing back.”
Graeter took second on Juan Ciriaco’s infield single and third on Matt Wessinger’s fielder’s choice, which forced Ciriaco at second.
David Dahl’s bid for a hit down the left-field line was speared at third by Thompson.
Grand Junction avoided being shut out for the first time this season when Jose Briceno, making his debut after being out with a shoulder injury, walked to lead off the ninth.
Ben Waldrip hit a towering home run deep over the right-field wall. Graeter and Ciriaco singled, but with two out, Wessinger struck out.
“Offensively we hit the ball hard,” Diaz said. “Our pitching struggled a little bit. They got lucky as hell, too. Every single ball they hit fell, whether it was hard or soft.”
A couple of the Raptors’ hits were definitely hit hard — Eric Smith’s three-run home run to right in the sixth inning and J.J. Ethel’s grand slam to left in the seventh for a 13-0 lead.
With one out and a runner at first after Ethel’s home run off Tony Seise, Diaz went to Kyle Roliard, who got a ground-ball double play and allowed only a base hit in the eighth, extending his string of scoreless innings to 10.
He allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in the season opener, but in his eight appearances since, he hasn’t allowed a run. He’s allowed six hits and struck out five in that streak.
“Ever since the first game I’ve really tried to go back to what I did in extended (spring training) and go back to the basics, where my fundamentals are at,” Roliard said. “I’ve been working hard on those, throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters. That makes the game easier.
“I’ve just been trying to establish my fastball to get ahead and it’s a lot easier to do that than go 1-0 or 2-0 and have to throw a predicted fastball and having them hit it.”
Before Smith’s home run in the sixth, Ogden manager Damon Berryhill was ejected for arguing a double play ruling.
Ethel was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Nam singled to right. Rathjen grounded to short, forcing Nam at second.
Ciriaco’s relay throw from the shortstop side of the bag pegged Nam in the forearm as he slid in with his arms raised. Field umpire Sean Allen called Rathjean out on the play, bringing Berryhill out of the dugout for a prolonged argument.
The warm afternoon game drew 2,285 fans, and there wasn’t a lot of electricity in the crowd at Suplizio Field, unlike night games.
“When you don’t score runs, people don’t see a lot of energy,” Diaz said. “How do you see energy when people aren’t crossing the plate?”