By George, he did it
Shortstop becomes first GJ Rockie to hit for cycle
The hard part was already done when Max George sauntered up to the plate in the eighth inning Saturday.
He had the home run, a moonshot to the top of the bleachers in left field. He banged a triple off the CenturyLink sign in center field, only a couple of feet from landing in the parking lot. In the third inning, he hooked a double just inside the left-field line.
Knowing he was in line for the cycle, George looped a single into left field to complete the first cycle in Grand Junction Rockies history as the Rockies clubbed Helena 13-2 in Pioneer League baseball at Suplizio Field.
“Forrest (Wall) actually told me about the cycle, even though you’re not supposed to do that,” George said, laughing. “But he told me that if I got a single, I shouldn’t try to stretch it because I’m in line for it.”
George’s cycle was the first for the Colorado Rockies’ Rookie Advanced affiliate since David Kandilas did it for the Casper Ghosts in Ogden on June 24, 2011.
“Got a pitch in and saw it was a bloop,” said George, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora. “Thought it had a chance to get down, and when I heard everybody cheering, I was excited.”
The Colorado Rockies’ sixth-round draft pick in June finished 4 for 4 with three runs and four RBI hitting from the nine-hole. George has had an up-and-down start to his professional career at the plate, struggling to reach a .200 batting average, but Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said George has been working with coaches to improve his swing.
“A really young kid had a great day today,” Sanders said. “He’s been improving every day and stayed the course. He’s been working with (Rockies hitting coach) Lee (Stevens), and persevering like this kid has is part of the game.”
The shortstop’s night ended with a cooler of water being dumped over his head by Hamlet Marte.
“Oh geez, it was great,” George said. “I love my teammates. Tonight was great.”
George was part of a big offensive night for Grand Junction, one of five players with a multihit game.
The Rockies (15-11) finished 15 of 37 as a team, including six extra-base hits. They scored seven runs in the second inning and sprinkled in runs throughout the game. Marte was 2 for 3 with two runs, and Yonathan Daza was 2 for 5 with a double and a stolen base.
In the second inning, Nate Causey walked, and Marte was hit by a pitch. McClure singled home Causey, then Luis Castro put down a well-placed bunt for a single. Denzel Richardson singled, George was hit by a pitch, then Wall singled to drive in two runs. Daza singled and stole second base before Helena (10-16) got three straight outs.
The Rockies added one run in the fourth, one run in the fifth and four runs in the sixth inning to run away with the victory.
Grand Junction pitcher Logan Norris picked up the win, his third of the season, striking out two and surrendering only one hit. Former Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt, on rehab assignment with Grand Junction, pitched one inning in relief. He gave up two hits but struck out two batters.
With the win, Grand Junction improved to 6-2 with two games remaining in the 10-game homestand.
“Any time you’re able to score seven runs in an inning, you can see the other team’s momentum slipping away,” Sanders said. “These guys stayed the course and swung the bat well all night.
“We’ve been building momentum, and the clubhouse is real loose and light. Everybody is participating, and any given night here, you’re not sure who is going to show up. It’s a good feeling to have.”
Matt McBride was recalled to Colorado Springs on Friday after a rehab assignment in Grand Junction. McBride hit .615 in four games with three doubles and five RBI for Grand Junction. ... Catcher Alex San Juan was assigned to Grand Junction from Class A Modesto on Saturday. ... Grand Junction is 13-2 when scoring first and 13-0 when leading after the sixth inning. ... Former GJ Rockies pitcher Eddie Butler threw four innings in a rehab start at Modesto. He allowed three runs on two hits, walked two and struck out two and retired the final eight batters he faced.