Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 4, 2017
Grand Junction 6, Helena 3
Friday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 19-23, 1-3 second half; Helena 17-24, 2-1.
The key inning
Grand Junction’s bullpen blew a two-run lead, but an implosion from Helena’s relief pitchers allowed the Rockies to snap a five-game losing streak.
Tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the eighth, Grand Junction used singles, walks and wild pitches to put the game away.
Shael Mendoza grounded out to start the frame, then Pedro Gonzalez walked. Ryan Vilade poked a single through the right side to set up a pitching change and Chad Spanberger welcomed Cameron Hanes with a strange single.
Spanberger launched a high fly ball that tailed deep into the left-center gap. Helena’s center fielder and left fielder both sprinted for the ball and nearly collided, with the left fielder ducking away at the last second.
The ball glanced off the center fielder’s glove, allowing Gonzalez to score and Vilade to move to second. Casey Golden ripped a single to right field to move each runner up and he advanced to second on the throw as the Rockies went up 4-2. Ramon Marcelino struck out hacking at a curveball in the dirt, but the ball squirted past the catcher, allowing Marcelino to reach safely and Spanberger to cross the plate.
Todd Czinege singled to cap the rally and put Grand Junction up 6-2.
On the mound
After pitching himself into a jam during the second inning, Logan Longwith found his control and shut out Helena for five innings.
Longwith’s start was delayed roughly one hour because of rain and he still powered through the first inning with three quick outs. He did give up a single, but catcher Nic Motley made a throw down to second during the ensuing at-bat to catch the runner stealing.
Longwith carried part of that momentum into the second inning, quickly forcing another groundout, but Payton Henry doubled and Jay Feliciano walked to put a pair of runners on.
Longwith struck out the next hitter on a 2-2 slider, then issued a walk to load the bases. He struck out the Antonio Pinero to end the inning.
The right-hander gave up a pair of singles in the third inning as a drizzle started and, despite the renewed rain, still struck out Henry to end the inning. He worked around an infield error in the fourth inning and an outfield error in the fifth before tacking on two more strikeouts in the sixth to put himself in line for the win.
Longwith lost the decision, however, when Helena scored two runs in the top of the seventh.
Michael Agis came on in relief and struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up a triple, with Tristen Lutz sliding around the tag at third. KJ Harrison ripped a single to left field to cut Grand Junction’s lead to 2-1.
Agis walked the next batter to put two runners on, but got a fly out to prevent them from moving up a base. A single by Gabriel Garcia tied the game. Grand Junction pitching coach Doug Jones came out for a visit before Agis struck out the final batter of the inning.
Second-round pick Tommy Doyle was good enough from there, tossing two solid innings to secure the victory. Doyle scattered two hits and one run across two innings.
At the plate
The Rockies had only three hits in the first six innings — half of Helena’s total — but it was a solo home run from Nic Motley that put a single run on the board early. Motley’s home run was a no-doubter to left field, clearing the bleachers and traveling 407 feet, according to the tracking software at Suplizio Field.
GJ vs. Helena, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Anderson Amarista, GJ (2-1, 8,29 ERA) vs. Harold Chirino, HEL (1-3, 7.76 ERA)
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
— Matt Meyer, The Daily Sentinel