Losing skid ends playoff dreams for GJ Rockies
The Grand Junction Rockies losing skid continued Sunday, ending their chances of getting into the Pioneer Baseball League playoffs.
Orem crushed any hopes the Rockies had left with a 15-8 victory at Suplizio Field. It was Grand Junction’s sixth consecutive loss.
With Ogden’s 14-4 victory over Idaho Falls, Grand Junction (40-32, 17-17 second half) fell 4 ½ games behind Ogden in the Pioneer League South Division with four games left in the season.
Ogden (36-35, 21-12) will, at worst, finish tied with Orem for first place in the second half and would receive a playoff berth since the Owlz won the first half, according to Pioneer League rules. The Raptors overtook first place from Grand Junction with five consecutive wins over the Rockies heading into Sunday’s games.
“We’ve had a tough couple series,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “It’s a disappointment to see the guys finish the way we have after such a great year early on.
“I felt we were on the right path, but we hit a wall the last series against (the Raptors). They stepped up and won a lot of tough ballgames. They deserve it.”
It is the first time Grand Junction didn’t make the playoffs since the Colorado Rockies Rookie League affiliate moved to Grand Junction in 2012.
The Grand Junction Rockies committed a season-high six errors in the game, leading to nine unearned runs for the Owlz.
Grand Junction made two errors right away in the first inning and Orem turned them into three runs.
The Owlz (41-30, 17-16) broke the game open in the fourth with five runs and two Grand Junction errors to chase Rockies starting pitcher Harrison Musgrave. The right-hander (2-4) allowed eight runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.
“Today, defense cost us, but again it all starts with good pitching,” Sanders said. “We didn’t get much out of our starter today and our bullpen as well. We couldn’t stop them at all. Our offense has been there. We continue to score runs, but we’ve got to stop some people as well.”
Five Grand Junction relievers combined to give up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits with four walks.
The Rockies offense continued to swing the bats like it has all season. They scored two runs in bottom of the first inning on Nate Cousey’s two-run single. Grand Junction tied the game 3-3 on Omar Carrizales’ double, scoring Luis Jean in the second, but Orem took the lead for good in the fourth.
“We’ve had some close ball games, a lot of one run games, it took a little bit out of us,” Sanders said. “That’s no excuse, these guys still need to continue to come out here, be professionals and play the game the right way.”
Grand Junction pushed two runs across in the sixth after loading the bases with no outs.
Randy Reyes scored on Roberto Ramos’ groundout, then Hamlet Marte, pinch-running for Cousey, scored on Jean’s sacrifice fly. Orem led 9-5.
The Owlz added two runs in the top of the seventh inning. Alec Kenilvort walked two batters and they both scored on Raul Linares’ double to the left field corner.
Marte doubled home two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Orem took advantage of two walks to score two more runs in the eighth and two in the ninth.