GJ Rockies rip the Raptors
The more the Grand Junction Rockies can push the pace of a game, the more they like it.
Tuesday night, the Rockies pushed it from the get-go, taking extra bases, executing the hit-and-run and not really slowing down even when they hit the ball out of the park in a 16-3 rout of Ogden at Suplizio Field. The win put the Rockies (9-4) back in sole possession of first place in the Pioneer League South Division, one game up on the Raptors. It was their fourth win over the Raptors in five meetings.
“We love making guys throw the ball,” second baseman Dom Nunez said. “Stealing bases, taking the extra base, this is what we do and it’s won us a lot of games.”
The 16 runs were the most in the club’s brief Grand Junction history. The Rockies scored 13 runs in wins over Ogden and Idaho Falls last season.
Nunez scored three runs and drove in four, three of which came on his first pro home run, a shot to right-center in the Rockies’ four-run sixth inning.
“It’s been awhile,” he said of finally seeing the ball leave the park. “It felt good, though.
“We showed a lot of confidence at the plate and had a good approach. When you play errorless ball as well, it’s a little bit easier for your pitcher and the defense to back him up when he’s got a good tempo. Offensively, they booted a couple of balls and we took advantage of it.”
Nunez got the Rockies on the board after a collision at first base in the bottom of the first. His ground ball to second erased Emerson Jimenez and Nunez crashed into first baseman Jesus Valdez, who had to come off the bag to try to catch the relay throw. Nunez scrambled to his feet as the ball rolled away and took second.
He came home on Jose Briceno’s fifth home run of the homestand and the Rockies were off and running the bases.
“They came early and often today for us. It was good to see everybody relaxed and swinging the bats well,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “If you watched when they got the hits, how aggressive they were taking extra bases, not settling. They’re playing the game the right way.
“We’ve been preaching that from day one, put the pressure on them. If you come out here and watch the game, that’s one thing you’re going to notice, how hard these kids play the game.”
They only stole two bases, but every time an Ogden player bobbled the ball, the Rockies took an extra base — or two. And with four errors by Ogden, the Rockies were taking plenty of extra bases.
It started with Nunez in the first inning, and in the second, Terry McClure hit a chopper just off the tip of second baseman Jesmuel Valentin’s glove. He took third on Cole Norton’s base hit that scored Tapia.
Norton stole second, but Kyle Farmer’s throw went into center, allowing McClure to score and Norton to take third.
In the fourth, a throwing error on a ground ball by Jimenez scored Norton, who led off with a double. The error allowed Jimenez to advance to third, and after reliever Michael Johnson walked the bases loaded, Correlle Prime singled and Ryan McMahon lifted a sacrifice fly to center.
It ended up being a six-run inning that put the game well out of reach.
Every Rockies player scored at least one run and six players had two or more hits. Only Robbie Perkins didn’t get a hit in the Rockies’ 17-hit attack.
McClure was 3 for 4 and Norton and Briceno each went 3 for 5. Briceno also doubled twice, giving him six in the homestand and 11 extra-base hits in his past four games. He didn’t play Sunday, and Saturday night went 0 for 4. Norton drove in three runs and scored three.
The six runs Grand Junction scored in the first three innings were more than enough for Helmis Rodriguez (2-1), who allowed only one hit in five innings. He walked three, struck out three, lowering his ERA from 1.50 to 1.06. He relied mainly on his fastball and quick pace on the mound.
“That’s the way he does it,” said Carlos Esteves, interpreting for Rodriguez. “He’s been doing it from the Dominican Summer League. That’s the way he gets to dominate batters, by going really quick, pitch after pitch in the strike zone, they can’t swing.
“He wanted to go and attack, attack, he didn’t want them to get comfortable at the plate.”
Rodriguez said it was easy to pitch with the big lead.
“He hopes every start will be like that,” Esteves said, laughing along with Rodriguez.
Notes: Ryan Garvey said he passed his concussion test Tuesday and is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, when the Rockies play at Idaho Falls.
Jayson Aquino, who pitched in Grand Junction last summer and started the season in Class A (short season) Tri-City, going 0-1 in four starts with the Dust Devils, has been moved up to Class A Asheville. Aquino is listed as the No. 10 prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system.