Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 23, 2017
Grand Junction 11, Orem 10 (11)
Wednesday at Brent Brown Ballpark
Grand Junction 31-28, 13-8 second half; Orem 39-19, 13-8.
The key inning
Grand Junction loaded the bases in the top of the 11th inning after a single from Kennard McDowell and back-to-back walks. With the table set, Chad Spanberger lofted a single to right field that drove in two runs and put the Rockies up 11-9.
So long, Pedro
Grand Junction outfielder Pedro Gonzalez was traded to the Texas Rangers, becoming the “player to be named later” from the Colorado Rockies’ acquisition of catcher Jonathan Lucroy late in July. He was assigned to Class A-short season Spokane, which has 10 games remaining in its season.
During almost two seasons in Grand Junction, Gonzalez made major strides. He signed with the Colorado Rockies for a $1.3 million bonus in 2015 and moved from the Dominican Summer League to the Rookie-level Rockies in 2016, where he hit only .229 with two home runs in 253 at-bats. He also shifted from shortstop, where he played in the DSL, to the outfield when he arrived in Grand Junction because of a growth spurt.
In 2017, Gonzalez improved both his hitting and fielding, posting a .321 average with 25 extra-base hits in 187 at-bats. He missed time recently with a sore finger, but collected 17 hits in his final 10 games with the Rockies.
At the plate
Early home runs from Shael Mendoza and Spanberger — plus a grand slam from Casey Golden — gave the Rockies some padding before the Owlz chipped away at the lead. Mendoza and Spanberger gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Orem got one run back in the bottom of the frame and led 4-3 by the end of the fourth inning.
Golden’s grand slam was the big hit in the Rockies’ five-run rally in the fifth. With one out, Mendoza doubled to drive in one run and put runners on second and third. Brett Stephens walked, then Golden hammered a 3-1 pitch over the fence in the left-center gap to put the Rockies up 8-4. From there, Orem outscored Grand Junction 5-1 to force extra innings.
Golden was 3 for 5, adding a double in the fourth inning. Mendoza added three hits, Spanberger had two and Alan Trejo added a pair of one-run hits.
On the mound
Justin Valdespina struggled against Orem, giving up nine hits, four runs and two walks to the Owlz. The right-hander did strike out six in five innings, but saw his ERA rise to 6.31.
From there, the Rockies had up-and-down relief performances. Hunter Williams gave up two runs in one inning, Aneudy Duarte threw one nearly perfect inning, and Colton Hathcock was solid in the eighth inning before being shellacked in the ninth.
Derrik Watson struck out one batter and allowed no hits in the 10th and Jefry Valdez hung on for the save in the 11th despite giving up a solo home run.
GJ at Orem, 6:40 p.m., Brent Brown Ballpark
Starting pitchers: Jorge Oviedo, GJ (2-1, 4.55 ERA) vs. TBD, ORM
— Sentinel Staff