GJ Rockies top Chukars
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — With one game left in the first half of the Pioneer League season, the Grand Junction Rockies are still alive for the South Division title after Friday night’s 6-5 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars.
Grand Junction is tied for first with the Ogden Raptors, who beat Orem 6-3, but Ogden owns the tiebreaker over the Rockies after winning all eight first-half meetings.
Had the Rockies lost, they would have been eliminated, and Friday night’s contest got off to a bad start.
In the bottom of the first inning, the first four Chukars reached base, even though only one ball left the infield.
Idaho Falls scored three runs to take a 3-0 lead, but the Rockies answered in the second, taking a 4-3 lead. Wilfredo Rodriguez knocked in the first two runs with a triple and David Dahl drove in the fourth run with a triple of his own.
“Us answering their first inning saved the game,” Rockies manager Tony Diaz said. “If we would’ve let that three stand up for a few innings, we might not have been able to come back.”
Jeff Popick doubled home a run in the fifth to make it 5-3, and later in the inning, Ryan Garvey gave the Rockies a three-run lead when he drove in Popick.
After a rough first inning, Grand Junction starter Alving Mejias didn’t allow a run the rest of his outing. He picked up his second win of the season, throwing six innings, giving up only five hits.
“I was really proud of the way Mejias bounced back after that first inning,” Diaz said. “They really didn’t hit anything hard against him, and some pitchers will get rattled after that, but he stayed with it and pitched really well.”
Idaho Falls climbed to within a run in the seventh with two runs despite not hitting the ball out of the infield. With a 6-5 lead, Raul Fernandez was able to get Jin-Ho Shin to hit into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice to end the threat, and he then threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Scott Oberg came on to try for his eighth save of the season. He got Carlos Garcia to pop out to start the inning, but Ethan Chapman singled to put the tying run on base.
Oberg then got Adalberto Mondesi to bounce into a double play to give the Rockies the win.
Tonight, the Rockies close the first half of the season at Melaleuca Field at 6 p.m., with Johendi Jiminian starting. In order to win the South, the Rockies need to win and have Ogden lose.
“After the way we started the season, and after the way we have played against Ogden, all we can ask for is a chance to win it on the last day,” Diaz said. “We just need to take care of our business and put the pressure on Ogden.”