GJ Rockies fall 10-8 to Ogden
They had four comebacks in them, but not five.
The Grand Junction Rockies rallied from deficits time and time again Wednesday, finally tying the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Ogden, though, came up with the clutch hit in the top of the 11th inning for a 10-8 victory at Suplizio Field to move back into a tie with Grand Junction for first place in the Pioneer League South Division.
“They fought hard as well,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said of the Raptors. “We just didn’t get that timely hit we needed late in the game. Still, a lot of highlights. We started off down again, but you see it, these guys just keep fighting back. We’re never out of it here.”
Spencer Navin delivered a two-run double in the 11th inning for Ogden (9-5), scoring Joey Curletta, who reached on a two-out single, and Alex Santana, who walked against Grand Junction reliever Scott Firth (0-1).
The loss put a damper on third baseman Ryan McMahon’s two-home-run game, the first two home runs of his professional career. His first home run got out of Suplizio Field in a hurry, high and deep over the right-center-field wall to cap the Rockies’ first comeback of the night in the bottom of the first inning.
“Obviously I’m happy. I just wish we would have won,” McMahon said. “We definitely fought back into this one. We just couldn’t close it out. We’ll be good.”
Ogden scored in each of the first four innings to take a 6-3 lead, with Santana hitting a two-run home run in the third off Blake Shouse, the first of seven pitchers the Rockies used.
After Daniel Palo finished out the third inning, the Rockies sent Devin Burke to the mound for the fourth, but after a few warm-up pitches, home plate umpire Alex Mackay went to the Rockies dugout, and soon after, so did Burke.
Sanders didn’t have Burke listed among the available pitchers on his lineup card, so Jordan Mejia quickly warmed up and took the mound.
“Yeah, that was my first managerial mistake right there,” Sanders said. “Those guys stepped up, no complaints with our pitchers with what they did tonight.”
Mejia struggled early to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters he faced, throwing only one strike. He got out of it with only one run allowed and gave up only a leadoff single in the fifth, getting out of that inning on a double play.
Two runs came across for the Rockies in the sixth, and the wind likely cost Grand Junction another. With runners on second and third, Jose Briceno hit a shot to left-center that got hung up in the wind, which had shifted from blowing out to blowing to right field.
The sacrifice fly got Terry McClure home, and Emerson Jimenez scored on Jordan Patterson’s base hit. Ogden got a double play to strand Patterson at third, with the throw barely beating Jairo Rosario to first.
Down 8-5, the Rockies got back in the game in the seventh on Miguel Dilone’s second home run of the season, then used their speed. Kyle Norton laced a triple to the wall in right-center and scored on a wild pitch to pull Grand Junction within one run, 8-7. McMahon’s second home run, a two-out shot in the eighth, tied it up.
His second home run was a towering shot down the right-field line and left the park just inside the foul pole.
“I thought it was going to keep fading out,” McMahon said. “It started to curve from home plate, and then it stayed straight. I was relieved.”
Grand Junction got only one runner on base from the ninth through the 11th innings, striking out five times against Sawil Gonzalez, who got the win, and Jacob Rhame, who picked up the save for the Raptors.
The Rockies left for Idaho Falls after the game, their first series against a team other than Ogden or Orem.
“We’ll battle back tomorrow,” Sanders said of the loss. “Sleep it off.”
During the Rockies’ afternoon workout, the team split into two for a bunting contest, which, McMahon said, kept the players loose. But with everything they do, there was something on the line for the winning team.
“The winning team gets to go on the bus first and pick their seats, then the losing team gets to get on,” McMahon said. “I was on the winning team. I’m stoked.”