Errors costly in GJ Rockies’ loss

Starting pitcher Shawn Stuart delivers Tuesday during the Grand Junction Rockies’ 7-2 loss to Idaho Falls at Suplizio Field. Stuart allowed only two hits, but three unearned runs saddled him with the loss.

In a post-playoff-clinching hangover, the Grand Junction Rockies committed three errors in the first two innings and couldn’t recover, falling to the Idaho Falls Chukars 7-2 Tuesday night at Suplizio Field.

Ashley Graeter started with an error in the first inning, but starting pitcher Shawn Stuart induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

In the second inning, however, errors caught up to the Rockies. Zach Osborne bobbled a slow grounder at shortstop and tried to deflect it toward second baseman Juan Ciriaco, who cleared second base before catching the ball and then fired a late throw to first. Chukars first baseman Jared Schlehuber emptied the bases with a two-run double.

Two more errors in the top of the fifth cost Grand Junction another run. The Rockies had six errors total.

Idaho Falls is tied for last in the South Division, but something about them has caused the Rockies to struggle. In the first game of series, they committed a season-high seven errors and finished with 15 errors in the four-game series, more than any other series this season.

“I don’t think we can blame the changing lineup because we’ve been playing multiple guys on a pretty much consistent basis,” Rockies manager Tony Diaz said. “It’s anybody at anytime, and we didn’t execute. We didn’t catch the ball and just didn’t play well, even though we had our chances offensively.”

The Rockies’ hot bats and pitching offset the poor fielding temporarily. Max White knocked in Jeremy McLeod and then crossed the plate on a Correlle Prime single. None of the three runs Stuart gave up were earned, and he fanned two batters and walked none over five innings, but he was tagged with the loss.

“There are two choices when you have a game like this happen. You can get stuck and rattled, or you can learn from it and move on. It’s really the name of the game,” Diaz said. “Pitchers, they need to learn to throw with errors behind them. Stuart had a good game out there. It was just one of those nights.”

A three-run sixth inning by the Chukars put the game out of reach. Up to that point, the Rockies had out-hit the Chukars.

Despite losing by five runs, the Rockies matched Idaho Falls with eight hits. Prime led the Rockies at the plate, going 3 for 4 with an RBI. The Rockies didn’t have an extra-base hit.

“It’s frustrating when we’re out working hard and those errors kind of let you down,” White said. “We’re not trying to make errors, but you just have to come back and get the next one. That will help us shape up and focus, so we can go into the playoffs and hopefully win it all.”

Pioneer League MVP David Dahl and team home run leader Julian Yan were given the night off to rest before the playoffs, according to Diaz.

With two games left in the season, the Rockies can’t catch Ogden for the best overall record, but they are only one game behind Billings for the second-best record in the Pioneer League.

“We have to get all our pitching in order,” Diaz said. “Our bullpen guys and some of our position players, too, we have to give them a little blow and make sure everyone is rested. We’ll get them ready for Thursday, so we can hit the ground running.”

Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa makes a rehab start for Grand Junction at 7:05 tonight as the Rookie club closes its regular season with two games against Ogden before turning around at 1:05 p.m. Friday and hosting Ogden in the first round of the playoffs.


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