Causey launches Grand Junction past Voyagers

Grand Junction first baseman Nate Causey rounds the bases after hitting a home run deep into the parking lot Sunday at Suplizio Field to help the Rockies beat Great Falls.

Nate Causey crushed what Grand Junction Rockies manager Anthony Sanders called “probably the furthest-hit ball I’ve seen go out of this place” Sunday.

The Rockies’ first baseman finished 2 for 5 with 3 RBI to lead Grand Junction to an 11-9 win over Great Falls in a Pioneer League game at Suplizio Field.

Causey led of the bottom of the second inning by blasting a hanging belt-high fastball over the right-field fence.

“I was just thinking short to the ball,” Causey said. “Then I put a good swing on it.”

The ball Causey was short to finally settled near the Lincoln Park-Moyer swimming pool.

“I was talking to their third baseman,” Sanders said. “And he even mentioned how far it was hit. Nobody moved on that ball.”

Causey’s home run sparked a five-run second inning for Grand Junction (36-22, 13-7 second half).

After Causey’s big hit, Luis Castro drew a walk, then Randy Reyes singled and immediately stole second base. Wesley Jones singled in Castro, stole second, and advanced on a throwing error that also scored Reyes.

Max George drew a walk, and Wes Rogers singled to load the bases.

Then began a string of errors and strange plays that ultimately sunk Great Falls (31-28, 8-13).

Luis Jean was called out on the infield fly rule, then Yonathan Daza grounded into what looked to be a textbook 4-6-3 double play. The Great Falls shortstop bobbled the catch, allowing Jones to score.

On the very next pitch, Hamlet Marte hit a hard comeback ground to pitcher Dane Stone.

Stone turned to fire the ball to second base for another chance to end the inning with a double play. The second baseman went to cover, but stopped well short of the bag despite having plenty of time to turn two.

The second baseman fielded the throw and threw out Marte, but George scored. Causey ended the inning with a warning-track flyout to left field.

Great Falls fell behind 5-1 early, but maintained momentum from a key home run.

Patrick Palmeiro, son of former big leaguer Rafael Palmeiro, gave Great Falls a shot in the arm with a solo home run in the top of second inning. He has three home runs in the past two games.

The Voyagers scored a run in the third inning, but cut a potential rally short after Causey caught a routine fly ball in foul territory and doubled a runner off at second base.

“I think if you take Great Falls’ four errors off the board I think we don’t win that ballgame,” Sanders said. “They made a lot of mental mistakes on easy tag plays and things like that. They let the umpires get involved in the game as well, and we were able to come out on top.”

Despite both mental and physical errors, Great Falls chipped away at the Rockies’ lead, scoring a run in fourth before erupting with a four-run fifth.

Grand Junction scored a run in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back doubles and runs on a passed ball in the fifth and Marte’s solo home run in the sixth.

Great Falls tied the game 8-8 in the top of the eighth before Grand Junction put up three runs in the bottom half to seal the victory.

Castro, serving as the designated hitter, finished 4 for 4 and scored twice. Hamlet Marte was 2 for 4 with 3 RBI.

Yoely Bello picked up the win in relief, pitching two-thirds of the eighth inning, allowing no hits and no walks with two strikeouts. He dropped his ERA to a team-best 0.87. Alec Crawford collected his ninth save of the season.

“The bullpen has looked good, but it’s still tough on them,” Sanders said. “There are still guys who are only getting out there every fifth or sixth day.”

Betancourt moved up: Rafael Betancourt, the former closer of the Colorado Rockies, ended an extended rehab stint with Grand Junction. The 39-year-old right-hander was added to Triple-A Colorado Springs’ roster Sunday and pitched one scoreless inning for the SkySox. In 14 games with Grand Junction, Betancourt picked up one win with a 2.03 ERA as he began his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.


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