Great Falls uses two HRs in ninth to rally past GJ Rox
Two swings took the air out of Suplizio Field on Friday night.
Two big swings.
Home runs by Louie Lechich and Mason Robbins, the latter a three-run, no-doubt shot, propelled Great Falls to an 8-6 victory over Grand Junction, costing the Rockies a chance to build on their lead in the Pioneer League South.
“A little unexpected right there,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said after closer Alec Crawford gave up four runs in the ninth inning. “He left some pitches in spots he didn’t want to, and against the lefties down and in, and he paid for it. He’s been our guy all year, and he’s a guy we’re going to go back to next time and learn from it.”
The Voyagers’ rally spoiled the Rockies’ five-run rally in the seventh inning.
Grand Junction (34-22, 11-7 in the second half) trailed 4-0 until Dom Nunez hit a solo home run deep over the right-field wall in the sixth. In the seventh, the Rockies put together their first five-run inning since July 22.
“The guys definitely battled back. We started off down quite a bit, and the guys showed some life and battled back,” Sanders said. “Give (the Voyagers) some credit over there, they did the same thing. There were some real positives tonight; Forrest (Wall) had another big day and (Kevin) Padlo had a big day, and the guys kept chipping away.”
Wall went 4 for 5 and came up a home run shy of hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career. He had two shots at the big fly, and he was thinking about it.
“I was definitely trying not to hit a home run ... and hope it happened,” he said with a grin. “Tonight was a really good night, and I hope to carry it into tomorrow.”
In four consecutive at-bats, Wall did hit for the cycle. He hit a home run in the eighth inning Thursday night, then singled in the first inning Friday, followed that with a triple to the right-field corner in the third and doubled to right in the fifth.
He got the big seventh inning going by reaching on an error and scored on Padlo’s home run to left-center. Nunez reached on another error, and Hamlet Marte singled up the middle.
Both came home on Roberto Ramos’ double to right, Marte running through Sanders’ stop sign at third. Ramos scored to make it 6-4 when Terry McClure singled to center, bumping into Great Falls catcher Zach Stoner, which started a discussion about whether Ramos should be out for colliding with the catcher or if Stoner was blocking the path to the plate without the ball.
It looked as if Ramos got caught between sliding and scoring standing up when the throw was cut off in the infield.
“I didn’t try to run into the catcher,” Ramos said. “I was trying to slide inside and we both moved at the same time, and I couldn’t get out of the way. I was trying to slide, and as soon as I decided to go inside, he moved, too. I definitely didn’t mean to.”
Yoely Bello continued his stellar pitching out of the bullpen, retiring Great Falls in order in the eighth inning, including two strikeouts, bringing his total to 29 in 20 2/3 innings. He’s allowed only two earned runs all season.
Because of the big seventh inning, Wall, who raised his batting average from .305 to .327, got another chance for the cycle in the eighth, but he singled up the middle.
“I’m seeing the ball well, and I’m in a good rhythm at the plate,” he said. “I’m putting good swings on the ball.”
The Rockies stranded five men in scoring position in the first six innings, three with two out. They went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
■ Padlo hit his 10th double of the season, Nunez his seventh home run, Padlo his sixth. Padlo and Nunez each have 29 RBI, tied with Randy Reyes for the team lead.
■ A rules interpretation cost Billings starter Wyatt Strahan a victory Thursday. He was credited with the win after throwing four innings in a seven-inning game, but professional rules, unlike college, state the starter must go five innings. Reliever Jose Williams got the win for the Mustangs.