Four-run 4th keys Osprey’s win over GJ Rox
A hard line drive right back at pitchers can be unnerving, and one that caromed off Alex Balog’s hip Thursday night seemed to affect the Grand Junction Rockies starter.
“He took one off the hip and tried to bounce back,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said after the Rockies dropped a 10-3 decision to Missoula at Suplizio Field.
“Just command of some of his pitches, he got behind hitters and left a few pitches up. I don’t think he had his best stuff tonight, obviously. It’s tough to come back from something like that.”
Anderso Bolivar lined the ball right back at Balog in the fourth inning with one out and a runner at first base. Balog got his glove up and appeared to partially deflect the ball, which hit off his right hip and went into center field.
He was OK to continue, but after that, several of Balog’s pitches were up in the zone and the Osprey took advantage, scoring four runs in the decisive inning.
A fielding error by third baseman Ryan McMahon contributed to the big inning, and the Rockies never really threatened offensively.
“Defensively I see some of the guys put their heads down after a few runs are across,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to find a way to overcome that. We’ve got an explosive ballpark and club.”
They had just tied the game at 2-2 in the third, after Jairo Rosario doubled and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. Dom Nunez, who singled, scored on a groundout by Raimel Tapia.
After the Osprey took the 6-2 lead, though, Grand Junction (26-33, 5-16) had only four base runners the rest of the night. One of those runners wasn’t on base long — Emerson Jimenez hit a home run deep to right-center field in the sixth.
Earlier this season, the Rockies had a game where they left no runners on base. They nearly did it again Thursday, stranding only Jordan Patterson at third in the fifth inning. Patterson singled and took second on a wild pitch when Rosario struck out.
He went to third on a groundout, but was left there when Cesar Galvez grounded out to third. Dom Nunez singled in the eighth, but was caught stealing second, the Rockies’ last base runner of the night.
Early in the game, the Rockies’ defense was helping Balog erase base runners. Galvez timed his jump perfectly at second base in the second inning to snare a line drive and double a runner off first.
McMahon smothered a shot at third base in the third inning, throwing the runner out at first after Ryan Kinsella hit a one-out triple.
Kinsella scored the first run of the game on a base hit later in the inning.
First baseman Correlle Prime threw a runner out at the plate in the fifth, and in the seventh, the Rockies nearly had another out at the plate.
Justin Williams doubled an was waved around third on a base hit to center by Jose Queliz.
Tapia’s throw to the plate was on line, but Rosario couldn’t gather in the ball as the Osprey took an 8-2 lead.
“The ball never jumped back (up). He tried to stay with the ball, but the runner hit him first,” said Carlos Estevez, translating for Rosario.
Helmis Rodriguez came on for Balog (0-3) with a runner on third in the fifth inning and struck out Joe Munoz, then set the side down in order in the sixth.
“I came in that inning to not let them score more runs,” Rodriguez said through Estevez. “I just had that in mind. After that I just wanted to get the batters 1-2-3 so we could get back in the game.”
Grand Junction managed only five hits, four off starter Tom Jameson (3-0). Jameson threw seven solid innings, striking out seven and walking only one.
It was a case of the Rockies being too impatient at the plate.
“I think offensively we need to make some adjustments,” Sanders said. “We swung at way too many first-pitch strikes. Their starter never should have went that long tonight. That hurt us as well. We’ve got to be a little more patient and take every at-at like it’s your last at-bat. Grind some out.”
Notes: Local umpire Jared Farrens, who worked the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series this past May, umpired in the field Thursday. Cameron Westover became dizzy in Wednesday’s game and left in the third inning, with Ryan Doherty working the rest of that game by himself. ... The crowd, announced at 1,908, was the smallest home crowd of the season. The club has had only one other crowd of less than 2,000, on Aug. 6, when 1,960 attended the game against Orem.