Errors costly in GJ Rockies’ loss

Former CMU player and current Grand Junction Rockies outfielder Jeff Popick drives in a run Wednesday during the fifth inning of his first game back.

If only they could have gotten out of their own way Wednesday night, the Grand Junction Rockies would have found a way to steal a win.

Instead, the Rockies’ season-high eight errors were costly as Orem survived a sloppy slugfest for an 11-10 victory in 10 innings at Suplizio Field.

“It’s frustrating with eight errors,” Rockies manager Anthony Sanders said. “It’s hard to even be in the game and yet we were one run down with a chance still. A real sloppy game defensively. It’s hard to win that way.”

The Rockies (3-5 second half, 24-22) had a 10-8 lead thanks to Dom Nunez’s three-run home run in the seventh with a chance to escape with a win, but the Rockies’ fourth error of the game led to one Orem run in the eighth. Two more errors in the ninth tied the game and two more errors in the 10th gave the Owlz the victory in the their final game at Suplizio Field this season.

“That was a tough loss,” said Nunez, who had two of the eight errors all in the sixth inning on. “I didn’t really do my part on defense, but it is what it is. I’ve got to try to move on.”

The Owlz (5-3, 25-21) took advantage of a Nunez error with two outs in the eighth inning that allowed one run to score.

In the ninth, Orem’s Chad Hinshaw singled, stole second base and advanced to third on catcher Jairo Rosario’s errant throw. Hinshaw then scored when Rosario dropped the throw home on a ground ball to Ryan McMahon at third to force extra innings.

Orem put the pressure on the Rockies’ defense again in the 10th. Cal Towey singled, stole second and advanced to third on Rosario’s errant pickoff throw and scored on a Nunez fielding error.

Carlos Yan (0-3) gave up one unearned run on two hits in
1 2/3 innings for the loss.

Grand Junction starter Zach Jemiola, normally reliable for a quality start, failed to go five innings for the first time since July 17. The right-hander struggled to find the umpire’s strike zone, allowing six runs on six hits, four walks and struck out three in 4 2/3 innings.

Orem built a 6-0 lead without a Grand Junction error. Then the Rockies’ defense began to crumble in the sixth.

Orem’s leadoff batter reached on a fielding error, then scored on an throwing error by Rosario, who tried to pick off the runner at third base. Two runs scored on the play.

Grand Junction rallied for three runs in the sixth. Zach Osborne doubled home a run, then Emerson Jimenez singled home two runs, but the Rockies still trailed 8-6.

In the seventh, Grand Junction tallied four runs with two outs. Rosario tripled and scored on Terry McClure’s single. Two batters later, Nunez hit a three-run home run around the right-field foul pole for a 10-8 lead. Nunez was 3 for 5 with three RBI in the leadoff spot.

“I faced (the pitcher) earlier in the year and he snapped my bat,” Nunez said. “It was the first wood bat I snapped. I told myself he wasn’t going to get me again. Sure enough, he left a fastball up and in and I caught (up to) it.”

It wasn’t enough to overcome the errors.

NOTES: Colorado Mesa graduate Jeff Popick was 0 for 3 with one RBI in his first game since returning from a pulled hamstring injury in the first game of the season at Class A short-season Tri-City (Wash.) back in June.

“I was nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Popick said. “I felt all right at the plate. A couple adjustments and I think I’ll be all right.”

The Rockies limited him to five innings.

“That’s just their protocol when you’ve been out so long,” Popick said. “They start you out with five innings, then seven, then nine.”

Popick played left field, where he earned All-America honors for the Mavs, but he could see time on the field at first base. He’s been taking ground balls there in practices before the games.

“I’ll keep working at that,” Popick said. “If they need me to play there, I’ll play there.”


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