Breezing to a win
Wind doesn't hinder GJ Rockies in victory over Billings
Playing the outfield was a bit of an adventure Friday night.
With winds swirling around Suplizio Field, the outfielders were running in circles at times.
“It was an adventure. The wind was going everywhere,” Grand Junction left fielder Jordan Patterson said. “You could never tell, but we figured it out and were all right.”
The Rockies made some big defensive stops and got enough timely hits to wrap up the series against Billings with a 3-1 victory, only a couple of hours after beating the Mustangs 3-2 in 11 innings in a game that was suspended Thursday night by rain.
“It was a good day for two,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “The fans who came out (Thursday night) know we stole the first game from them (with two runs in the eighth to tie it), so we’ll walk out of here with our heads high on that one. The second game, lights-out pitching again, some timely hitting.”
The Rockies (14-8) banged a couple of balls off the wall, driving them to the gaps, which had the Mustangs (9-12) giving chase.
Correlle Prime lined a leadoff double in the second inning off the wall in center and scored on a groundout by Patterson.
In the fifth, Miguel Dilone drove the ball off the wall in the left-center alley for a double, scoring on Raimel Tapia’s sacrifice fly deep to right.
“The wind played a big factor today, keeping the ball in, knocking some balls down,” Sanders said. “I think we would have had a few home runs tonight without that wind blowing.”
Joel Payamps threw six solid innings for the win in the night game, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out four and walked two.
“He was locating good with his fastball, inside, outside, everywhere,” Carlos Esteves said, translating for Payamps.
Payamps said he used the wind to his advantage.
“It wasn’t really hard,” Esteves said. “The wind was blowing in to favor the pitcher. He just tried to get the outs.”
The wind crossed up Prime at first base in the second inning. With Carlos Sanchez on first after a base hit, Daniel Paula lifted a fly ball behind first.
Prime at first back-pedaled, then turned a couple of different ways. The ball fell in and bounced into foul territory before Prime picked it up and threw Sanchez out at second.
“We plan on giving Correlle a hard time tomorrow on that one,” Sanders said. “He calls himself an athlete all the time. He got abused.”
Billings scored its only run when Jon Matthews hit a ball to right that was knocked down by the wind, then skipped past Ryan Garvey for a triple. He scored on a wild pitch.
In the sixth, Garvey and shortstop Emerson Jimenez teamed up to throw out Sanchez, who tried to stretch a double to the right-field corner into a triple.
In the eighth, second baseman Zach Osborne made a diving stop to rob Gabriel Rosa of a base hit up the middle, throwing him out.
The Rockies, the highest-scoring team in the Pioneer League, scoring seven runs per game, used small ball to win twice on Friday.
“We’re not always going to score nine, 10 runs a game,” Patterson said. “Sometimes you’ve got to win games 3-2, 3-1, and that’s what we do. We’ll keep approaching it that way.”
Dilone had himself a day, driving in the winning run in the suspended game on a base hit against a drawn-in infield in the 11th inning.
“The first inning (the ninth) we got the chance to win the ballgame, but we couldn’t,” Dilone said. “I missed the first (chance), so the second one, I say, I cannot miss that one. Two chances, that doesn’t happen too many times.”
He said he was a little antsy at the plate when he saw the infield come in to cut off the run at the plate.
Dilone, though, did exactly what he needed to, driving the ball up the middle to score Jairo Rosario, who had singled and taken third on an errant pickoff attempt.
“I wanted it bad,” Dilone said, grinning. “I wanted it for sure. I just tried to make contact because the last at-bat I struck out.”
Angel Lezama recorded his second win of the season by allowing three hits over the final two innings.
Home plate umpire Tyler Ferguson invoked rule 7.09 on Thursday night when he called base runner Jonathan Reynoso out when Ty Washington interfered with Rosario’s throw to second base after Washington struck out.
That rule allows the umpire to call the runner out if he determines the batter “willfully and deliberately” interferes with the fielder in an obvious intent to break up a double play. Reynoso was attempting to steal second on the strikeout.