Former Mesa star hits two home runs in GJ Rockies' loss
Jeff Popick’s first professional home run was followed by an encore performance Friday for the Grand Junction Rockies.
The Colorado Mesa University graduate drove in all five runs, but the Rockies came up short, losing 6-5 at Ogden.
Popick hit his first home run in the top of the second inning after David Dahl walked and took second on an errant pickoff attempt by Matt Laney.
Julian Yan singled to right, sending Dahl to third and taking second on a throwing error.
With one out, Popick, who went 3 for 4, homered to left for a 3-2 lead.
“He had a great game, no doubt,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said.
Grand Junction (5-7) stranded 13 men on base to lose its fifth straight game at Ogden this season. The Rockies out-hit the Raptors (9-3) 13-11.
“We left about 20 men on base,” Diaz said. “We had a lot of opportunities with two out, but two-out RBIs are icing on the cake. You’d like to get at least one out of six.”
Grand Junction’s defense turned three double plays, including a rare one started by No. 1 draft pick Dahl in center field.
In the bottom of the third, Eric Smith doubled to left with one out and Jesus Valdez flied out deep to center. Smith had to go back to second to tag and got a late start to third but still tried to test Dahl’s arm. He easily threw Smith out at third to end the inning.
“He looked like Roberto Clemente,” Diaz said. “It was a great play, a great throw.”
The Rockies, though, couldn’t capitalize in the fourth despite having the bases loaded for Ryan Garvey, who is third in the Pioneer League in hitting at .407. Garvey struck out against Laney.
Popick singled in the fourth and flied out deep to left in the fifth with two out and two runners on.
Ogden, which scored a pair of runs in the first inning off Alving Mejias, hit a pair of home runs in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Mejias gave up a base hit to Valdez and a home run to left to Justin Boudreaux before striking out Tae-Hyeok Nam.
He was lifted for Jordan Mejia, who allowed a double to Jeremy Rathjen and a two-out home run to left by JJ Ethel to give Ogden a 6-3 lead.
Popick made it 6-5 in the seventh with his second home run of the night after Ben Waldrip doubled to right with two out.
The Rockies had a chance to take the lead, loading the bases, but again, Garvey struck out. Five Ogden pitchers combined to strike out 11 batters and walk four.
Four Grand Junction pitchers combined for five strikeouts and four walks. Closer Jesse Meaux threw 1 2/3 perfect innings, striking out two of the five men he faced in the seventh and eighth to give the Rockies’ hitters a chance.
Grand Junction, though, went down in order in the eighth and ninth innings.
Dahl extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-out single in the third, but Yan struck out.
Grand Junction opens a three-game series tonight at Orem before returning to Suplizio Field on Tuesday to begin a seven-game homestand.
“We competed well, collectively, I was very proud of our effort,” Diaz said. “You look back and we didn’t get the big hit, but still, most of our opportunities came with two outs. We put ourselves in position and didn’t get it.”