Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 7, 2017
Grand Junction 8, Missoula 7
Monday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 22-23, 4-3, Missoula 20-24, 1-5
The grand hit
Jeff Moberg didn’t get a hit Sunday night, but he hit three balls hard, so he figured he was due. In the sixth inning Monday, he showed how due he was, driving a grand slam into the parking lot in right-center field to put the Rockies up 8-4.
“I felt like I put together a few good at-bats (Sunday) night and one swing tonight led to four runs and helped out and made the difference in the ballgame,” the Rockies’ third baseman said.
Moberg’s grand slam off Pierce Romero, the second pitcher of the inning for the Osprey, capped the nine-batter inning that started when reliever Rafael Pujols hit Todd Czinege on his first pitch.
Brett Stephens worked a walk and Tyler Bates singled to center to load the bases. Nic Motley drew another walk to score Czinege, ending the night for Pujols, but Romero didn’t fare much better, serving up the home run.
“I was just trying to get it to the outfield somehow to get the run in, and it went a little farther,” Moberg said.
Pedro Gonzalez doubled with one out but was stranded when Ryan Vilade grounded out and Ramon Marcelino’s screaming line drive was right at third baseman Joey Rose.
On the mound
Lucas Gilbreath was terrific for four innings, but got a little sped up in the fifth, giving up three runs on four hits. He gave up three runs on seven hits, striking out three in his five innings.
Jorge Oviedo got the win with two innings of relief, allowing a triple by Juan Araujo and a soft liner by Jose Caballero into right field with the infield in. He shut down the Osprey after that, getting a strike out-throw out double play to end the seventh. Juan Carlos Lopez gave up a two-run home run in the eighth and Tommy Doyle earned his second save, giving up one run on a pair of hits, but striking out three in the ninth.
“Gilbreath got a little sped up there, you saw the finish on that thing, but I thought he was really good, competed well and gave us a chance,” GJ manager Frank Gonzales said. “We did some things with the bats again. Defensively we had a couple of things, but I thought we played pretty well.”
At the plate
Gonzalez is swinging a hot bat, so Gonzales kept him in the lineup as the Rockies’ designated hitter. He went 3 for 4 with a solo home run in the fifth and two doubles. Czinege, who got his fourth start at first base, was the only other Rockies batter with multiple hits, going 2 for 3.
In the field
The Rockies’ corner outfielders both made stellar catches. Marcelino ended the first inning and saved a run when he ran down a ball in the gap in right-center, reaching out at the last second to make the catch. Tyler Bates robbed Caballero of extra bases in the fifth by making a tumbling, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track in left field.
JUCO champ returns
Caballero, who hit .448 for Chipola College (Florida) to help the Indians win the 2017 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, returned to Suplizio Field, starting at second base for Missoula. The middle infielder who made the all-tournament team went 1 for 4 and drove in one run.
Around the diamond
The Rockies are 14-5 against the Pioneer League North with two home games remaining against the Osprey. Thursday is a travel day for the final two series against the North, at Helena and Missoula. ... The most recent grand slam by a Rockies hitter was nearly one year ago to the day, Aug. 10, 2016, by Hunter Melton against Helena.
Missoula at Grand Junction, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Will Gaddis, GJ (3-1, 4.50) vs. Jimmy Johnson, MIS (0-1, 7.88 ERA)
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
They said it
“It’s always easier when you’re playing consistently, and winning baseball makes it a lot easier. Losing, you kind of get down. Once you start winning, the ball starts flowing and wins keep coming.” — Jeff Moberg
— Patti Arnold, The Daily Sentinel