Errors costly in GJ Rockies’ loss
Diving to his left to spear a low liner was no big deal, and neither was smothering a sharp ground ball and throwing to the pitcher covering.
Jordan Patterson, who has played outfield all season for the Grand Junction Rockies, spent all spring playing first base for South Alabama.
Pressed into service at first last week when Correlle Prime sprained his left ankle, Patterson was back at first on Friday night, giving Prime the night off. He had no problems defensively, and drove in one run in Grand Junction’s 5-3 loss to Missoula.
“I played first a little in high school and all year this year in school,” Patterson said. “It was kind of normal. I played 65 games over there this year. You can’t think too much about it, you just have to let it happen.”
For the most part, the pitching and hitting were there Friday for Grand Junction (26-34, 5-17). The defense, though, was another matter.
Errors on back-to-back routine ground balls to open the game put the Rockies in a quick hole, 1-0, and the Osprey (25-36, 9-14) made it 2-0 on a solo home run by Chuck Taylor in the third.
“The bullpen’s been better as of late. The starters have been better,” Patterson said.
“We’ve been swinging it pretty good, some of the balls haven’t been falling our way. We made a few errors early and it changed the whole game.”
Starter Blake Shouse had one of his best outings, allowing four hits and striking out four in four innings. He reached his pitch count and Daniel Palo allowed three runs in the fifth, again hurt by an error.
“We let them get on the board early; it should have been a zero-zero game early,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “I thought Shouse threw his best outing so far. He just hit his pitch count because he hasn’t been throwing that much.”
As has been the case during the second-half swoon, the Rockies also couldn’t come up with clutch hits with runners in scoring position.
“Offensively, we never got anything going,” Sanders said. “We chipped away a little bit here and there. That one inning we had some base runners out there and never cashed in on it.”
That would be the seventh, when Robbie Perkins fouled off several pitches before lining a leadoff single to center and Wesley Jones followed with an infield single.
With two out, Emerson Jimenez hit a sharp grounder to first that went between Ryan Kinsella’s legs. Instead of the error to score Perkins and extend the inning, though, Missoula second baseman Jamie Westbrook backed up the play and threw out Jimenez.
The Rockies’ aggressive base running helped produce their first run after Jones and Terry McClure drew walks. Dom Nunez lifted a fly ball to center, and Jones tagged and took third.
McClure, who has great speed, also tagged and took off for second, and shortstop Joe Munoz made a bad throw, allowing Jones to score and McClure to advance to third.
Jimenez put down a squeeze bunt, but the throw to first beat him by a half-step to end the inning.
Ryan McMahon singled and Patterson hit a flare behind short with two out in the fourth inning, and McMahon scored on a wild pitch. With Patterson on third, Perkins grounded out.
McMahon doubled and scored on Patterson’s two-out, broken-bat single to left in the eighth, but the Rockies couldn’t keep it going.
Despite the loss, Sanders said he can see his club putting things together.
“Little by little, I think we’ll be ready when it counts,” he said.
Patterson said the struggles in the second half have actually helped the Rockies.
“We’ve kind of come together these past two weeks,” he said. “They’re not Ws in the win column, but we’re playing better baseball.”