Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 22, 2017
Grand Junction 8, Idaho Falls 7
Tuesday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 30-28, 12-8 second half; Idaho Falls 26-32, 9-11
The key inning
After a back-and-forth game, Casey Golden launched a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Grand Junction past Idaho Falls. Golden finished 3 for 4 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Swinging a hot bat
Catcher Nic Motley closed out the series with Idaho Falls with another multi-hit day, finishing 2 for 3 with three runs scored. His leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth eventually turned into the tying run. He also hit a solo home run in the fourth inning that knotted the game 4-4. In the three-game series, Motley was 8 for 12 with three home runs, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored.
Grand Junction Developmental Supervisor Andy Gonzalez said Motley, whose batting average was .181 before the surge, has worked out some of the kinks in his swing. After Tuesday, his average sits at .250.
“It was good to see him get going,” Gonzalez said. “He was struggling early in the season and now he’s getting back to a good approach. He had a great series, so hopefully he keeps it going because right now he’s in a good place.”
On the mound
After three strong innings, Grand Junction starting pitcher Will Gaddis sputtered the rest of the way. The third-round pick allowed only one hit and picked up his only two strikeouts during the first three innings. But after that, Gaddis surrendered a leadoff double in the fourth inning, a two-out-single to put runners on the corners and a three-run home run from Jake Wakamatsu that bounced off the top of the wall in right and into the parking lot. Grand Junction outfielder Ramon Marcelino slammed into the wall tracking the home run, nearly pulling it back into play.
The home run erased the 3-0 lead Grand Junction built in the early innings. After Grand Junction seized a 4-3 advantage in the bottom of the fourth, a sacrifice fly from Amalani Fukofuka knotted it up again in the fifth.
Things didn’t improve under reliever Brandon Lambright, who allowed the first three batters he faced to reach safely. Lambright allowed a leadoff bunt single and hit the next batter he faced. Logan Gray then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error by the pitcher allowed an Idaho Falls run to score.
A sacrifice fly from Wakamatsu extended the Chukars’ lead to 6-4, then Tyler Straub drove in another run with a single, but was thrown out trying to reach second base. Multiple stolen bases put two runners in scoring position before Lambright got a pop-out to end the inning.
Jan Carlos Lopez stabilized things in the seventh and eighth innings, allowing only one hit and one walk to go with three strikeouts. Tommy Doyle came on in the ninth and cruised through without allowing a hit.
Gonzalez said the work of Lopez and Doyle set the Rockies up to win.
“Good relief by both of them,” Gonzalez said. “They did a great job of holding onto the game and keeping it there for us.”
At the plate
On top of the big performances by Golden and Motley, Kennard McDowell finished 2 for 4 and Joey Bartosic was 1 for 4 with two RBI.
In the field
Jeff Bohling ranged from third base to Idaho Falls’ dugout in top of the seventh inning, reaching into the dugout to make the catch for the second out of the frame.
GJ at Orem, 6:35 p.m., Brent Brown Ballpark
Starting pitchers: TBD, GJ vs. TBD, ORM
— Matt Meyer, The Daily Sentinel