‘Lackadaisical’ loss for GJ Rockies

Anthony Sanders thinks it might have been a case of championship-clinching letdown.

The sluggish Grand Junction Rockies were a step slow Sunday in a 3-2 loss to Idaho Falls, losing the series 3-1.

“Guys were happy and excited about winning the first half and maybe came out here a little lackadaisical,” the Grand Junction skipper said. “No reason we should make four errors on a day like this.”

With several regular starters getting a day off, the Rockies gave up a pair of runs in the first inning, got them back in the fifth, then couldn’t respond after giving up the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Zach Jemiola gave up the two early runs, making a mistake to cleanup hitter Zane Evans.

“Good hitter, quick hands,” Jemiola said. “Maybe I should have gone first-pitch change-up to him. I got two decent outs and left a fastball over the plate. Things happen.

“The two runs were all me. I pegged a guy and gave up a bomb. The defense had nothing to do with that.”

After that, though, Jemiola overcame a couple of extra-base hits and an error-plagued seventh inning.

Alexis Rivera reached on an error and Carlos Garcia bunted the ball back to Jemiola. He had trouble fielding the ball, and both runners moved up on another sacrifice bunt.

With the infield in, Jemiola got Humberto Arteaga to ground out to first, then Elier Hernandez to fly out to right.

Angel Lezama stranded a runner on third in the eighth, and tied in the ninth, the Rockies turned to closer Dylan Stamey.

In his previous 12 games, Stamey had allowed only one earned run. Garcia reached on an error when Stamey fielded a chopper to the mound and the ball arrived as Garcia was crossing the base, and Miguel Dilone couldn’t make the catch.

After Garcia stole second, pinch-hitter Beau Maggi doubled off the left-field wall before two ground balls gave the Rockies another chance.

They were retired in order, though, their fourth loss in the past five games.

Idaho Falls’ pitching again had the Rockies’ hitters handcuffed, effectively pitching inside and getting ground balls.

Grand Junction hit into three double plays, including one in the fourth inning that cost the Rockies a run.

With Jordan Patterson on third after a single and two wild pitches, Ryan Garvey flied out to right. Patterson attempted to score, but Arteaga’s throw was right on the money.

Dom Nunez singled in the fifth, stole second and third, Jairo Rosario walked and Robbie Perkins singled up the middle to score one run. Wesley Jones reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Perkins, but scoring Rosario with the tying run.

After that, though, Grand Junction had only three base runners, stranding Rosario at third after a two-out triple in the seventh.

“A little slump right there,” Sanders said. “We got a few guys on, but we couldn’t get that big hit we needed.”

The Rockies wrap up the first half on the road at Ogden, then Wednesday begin the second half, also at Ogden.

Jemiola, one of the leaders of the club, said just because a playoff spot has been clinched, the work isn’t over.

“I want to win both halves. I don’t want to relax and be happy with making the playoffs,” he said. “I want to win both halves and I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team out, because I want to win it all.

“I was here last year. Some of the guys wanted to go home and didn’t want to be there. I want to win it this year.”

NOTES: Outfielder Jeff Popick took batting practice before Sunday’s game. The Colorado Mesa graduate has not played since joining the Rockies just before the season because of a strained hamstring. Popick was injured in his first game at Tri-City in June. He said he hopes to be ready when the club returns from their road trip to Utah. ... The owners of the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League are in preliminary talks to sell the club, the Billings Gazette has reported. The Mustangs have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds for the past 40 years, and are owned by local investors.

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