GJ Rockies ride hot bats to victory over Orem
The Grand Junction Rockies nearly batted around twice in the first inning Friday night, providing some early evening fireworks for a Rockies record crowd of 6,372 fans who also were drawn to Suplizio Field for the city’s postgame Fourth of July fireworks show.
One night after getting hammered 18-4 in Orem, the Rockies sent 17 batters to the plate in the first inning, producing 12 runs that sparked them to a 16-13 win over the Owlz in a Pioneer League baseball game.
“I’ve never been a part of an inning like that in my career, at any level,” Rockies third baseman Kevin Padlo said. “It was crazy.”
Grand Junction (10-9) benefitted from five singles and two throwing errors the first time through the order, but it was the second time through when the Rockies put away the Owlz.
Leadoff hitter Forrest Wall ripped a double deep to center field and Yonathan Daza singled him home.
Matt McBride, a catcher from Class AAA Colorado Springs, then hammered a double off the “400” sign in dead center to score Daza. McBride, who played left field, is on a rehab assignment in Grand Junction after breaking a metatarsal bone in his right foot in June.
“Got hit by a pitch, and doctors initially thought it was a bone bruise,” McBride said. “Turns out it was a stress fracture. It was weird. After hitting a home run I was rounding first base and felt a pop.”
McBride said he likely will play in Grand Junction for this homestand before returning to Colorado Springs.
The 6-foot-2, power-hitting right-hander was a major part of the Rockies’ offensive explosion, finishing 2 for 2 with three runs, two RBI and two walks before exiting in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After McBride’s double in the first inning, the Rockies drew back-to-back walks, then Padlo and Randy Reyes drove in runs with consecutive singles.
McBride hammered an RBI double in the second inning to add another run, and Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said it was beneficial for his players to be able to watch the 29-year-old at the plate.
“Having a guy like that in the middle of the lineup for a young team like this is invaluable,” Sanders said. “You can tell they learned a lot by just watching his approach.”
Orem (13-6) batted around in the top of the third inning, scoring five runs on the strength of three home runs, including back-to-back shots to start the inning.
Orem added another run in the top of the fourth inning, but the Rockies answered with three runs in the bottom half as Hamlet Marte hit a two-run triple, and Grand Junction pushed its lead to 16-7.
Grand Junction shortstop Luis Jean was ejected in the top of the fifth inning after disputing a close play at second base. Jean was replaced by Max George.
The Rockies didn’t score again after the fourth. Orem added a run in the seventh and scratched out five runs in the top of the ninth to turn a potential blowout into a tight game.
Wall was 3 for 6 with an RBI and a double. Marte was 3 for 4 with three RBI and was a home run away from the cycle. Seven batters had multiple hits for the Rockies, including each of the first five batters in the order.
“We’ll take wins however we can get them, but obviously our pitching is the problem right now,” Sanders said. “We have guys throughout the lineup, guys who were ready to play today, that can hit. We need our pitchers to get back into the zone and start getting outs.
“But I do like what I saw out of these guys after last night’s loss. They came out with fire, and they showed they belong. I don’t like how the game ended, but we know what he have to take care of.”
The Rockies face Orem today at 7:05 p.m.