Raptors rally past Rockies

Jeff Popick hustles past first base after hitting a double Saturday night during the first inning of the Grand Junction Rockies’ loss to Ogden at Suplizio Field.

Little things made the difference Friday night when the Grand Junction Rockies rallied to beat Idaho Falls.

Little things made the difference Saturday night, too, when Ogden claimed a 7-4 win over the Rockies at Suplizio Field.

The Raptors moved two games ahead of the Rockies in the South Division of the Pioneer League by taking advantage of five Grand Junction errors, two in the eighth inning when they broke a 4-4 tie.

“In this league it happens that way a lot,” Ogden manager Damon Berryhill said. “Young kids making mistakes and you’ve just got to be able to capitalize. I thought we did a better job tonight producing runs. The last couple of nights we’ve been struggling getting runs across. The boys did a good job.”

Idaho Falls beat Orem 4-1 on Saturday to move into a tie with the Rockies at 10-10. Ogden (12-8) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Early on, it was the Rockies taking advantage of little things to take a 2-0 lead after two innings. Jeff Popick lined a double to right-center to score Jason Stolz from first base with two outs.

In the second, Max White drew a leadoff walk and barely avoided the tag by Ogden second baseman Malcom Holland on Correlle Prime’s ground ball. Stolz moved up on a groundout and scored on Juan Ciriaco’s squeeze bunt.

After the second inning, the Rockies’ offense was shut down by Jake Hermsen through the sixth. Hermsen allowed two runs on four hits and struck out five.

“Hermie did a great job for us,” Berryhill said. “He got a lot of ground balls. We needed a quality start. We’ve been struggling a little bit getting quality starts the last three and he gave us what we needed.”

Ogden scored three runs in the fourth off Matt Carasiti on three hits, including a two-run double by Jose Capellan. Alex Santana followed with a double to the right-field corner, scoring Capellan. Santana took third when Julian Yan didn’t field the ball cleanly.

“Tonight was a learning night and again, if we learn from that we’ll become a better ballclub,” Grand Junction skipper Tony Diaz said. “We learn a lot more as human beings from our mistakes than when things are going right. It’s a learning night for us and we’ll come out ready to go (today).”

The Raptors added one run in the sixth off Brian Rike, but in the seventh, Grand Junction’s speed and aggressive base running tied the game.

Down 4-2 with one out, Prime singled to right, took second on an outfield error and third on a groundout. He scored on a wild pitch, and Ciriaco drew a two-out walk.

Concerned with his speed, reliever Craig Stem threw to first to keep him close, but the ball sailed and Ciriaco sped around to third. He tied the game when he scored on another wild pitch.

In the top of the eighth, though, those little things bit the Rockies. Devin Shines singled just in front of a sliding Jeff Popick in shallow left and Capellan reached on an error by shortstop Matt Wessinger.

Santana bunted in front of the plate and catcher Franmy Pena elected to throw to third, but it wasn’t in time to get the speedy Shines, loading the bases.

Rayan Gonzalez, who had come on to pitch in the seventh, struck out Holland, but gave up a base hit to center that eventually scored all three runners.

Two runs came home on the base hit and Santana scored when Pena couldn’t handle David Dahl’s throw from center, which was to the first-base side of the plate.

The ball bounced off Pena up the first-base line a few feet, and as he chased it down, Santana broke for the plate. Gonzalez was backing up the throw, but was too far behind the plate to take a throw, so Pena, who runs well, tried to beat Santana to the plate.

It appeared Pena tagged Santana on the shoulder just before he reached the plate, but home plate umpire Sean Allen ruled Santana’s foot hit the plate before the tag.

Raul Fernandez replaced Gonzalez and got the Rockies out of the inning, but they didn’t have another late-inning comeback in them despite drawing back-to-back walks to lead off the ninth.

Ogden reliever Scott Griggs struck out Pena, Ciriaco and Wessinger to end the threat.

Grand Junction, averaging 10 hits a game before Saturday, managed only six. Ogden, which was hitting one percentage point higher than the Rockies (.292 to .291) before the game and averaging 10.3 hits a night, collected 12.

“It’s one of those games,” Diaz said. “You’ve gotta learn from it, put it behind you and get ready for tomorrow. It happens. It happened to our big-league club today. It happens everywhere. As long as we don’t dwell on it, we’ll be fine.”


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