Grand Junction Rockies recap, July 23, 2017
Billings 4, Grand Junction 2
Sunday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 17-16, Billings 16-17
Can’t win ‘em all
Grand Junction’s seven-game winning streak came to an end, but manager Frank Gonzales liked that his club was in the game. The loss officially eliminated the Rockies from contention to win the first-half Pioneer League South title, but in reality, Grand Junction’s play in the first couple of weeks of the season took the club out of the race. Orem (24-9) clinched the first-half South title with five games left.
“I can’t complain when you (win) three series in a row and nearly swept a couple in a row,” manager Frank Gonzales said.
“We’re a way better club now. We’ve got all the talent in the world here, we just didn’t know how to use it early in the year. Right now guys are figuring out how to put it on the field every day.”
On the mound
Justin Valdespina (0-4) was a hard-luck losing pitcher, giving up only two runs on four hits through 5 2/3 innings. In one of his best outings of the season, Valdespina struck out four and walked two. The only earned run he allowed was a solo home run in the fifth inning.
“When you give up two runs and haven’t scored any it looks like a bad deal. He pitched well enough to win,” Gonzales said.
At the plate
Pedro Gonzalez and Casey Golden each went 2 for 4, with Gonzalez driving in Shael Mendoza in the eighth inning to pull Grand Junction within one run.
Ramon Marcelino hit the third of three straight seventh-inning singles to score Chad Spanberger from second for the Rockies’ first run.
In the field
The Mustangs learned you don’t run on Gonzalez, who threw Montrell Marshall out at the plate in the third inning from center field on a bang-bang play. With Marshall on second, Satchel McElroy singled up the middle and Gonzalez came up throwing. Catcher Nic Motley tagged Marshall just in time, but Marshall insisted he beat the throw. So, too, did Billings manager Ray Martinez, who gestured that home-plate umpire Colin Barin did not see the play. After a few more words, Martinez was ejected.
“That was a good one. The second one wasn’t (in the sixth on a sacrifice fly) but that was a good one,” Gonzalez said. “The main thing is to keep the throw down. That one wasn’t really down.”
On the bases
The Rockies cost themselves at least one run in the first inning when both Mendoza and Gonzalez were thrown out trying to steal. The league leader in stolen bases, Mendoza was thrown out at second after he reached on an error, and right after that, Gonzalez doubled to left, which would have gotten Mendoza at least to third, if not scoring, from first. Gonzalez was then thrown out by pitcher Tyler Mondile when he tried to steal third.
“We gave up two outs in a hurry. I don’t mind guys running, and 90 percent it’s on their own with guys who can run, but if you don’t get a decent jump and you’re out, you’re out,” Gonzales said.
No lead is safe
Rarely in Rookie ball do you see situational substitutions, but the Mustangs employed a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner in the ninth inning to try to pad their one-run lead and salvage one game in the four-game series. Pinch-hitter Mark Kolozsvary delivered an RBI single, scoring Jeter Downs for a 4-2 lead. The Mustangs, tied with Missoula for the North Division lead, then inserted Zeke White at second to run for Marshall. A double steal put runners at second and third, but White was thrown out at the plate when Stuart Fairchild hit a ground ball to Todd Czinege at third.
Great Falls at Grand Junction, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Logan Longwith, GJ (2-2, 10.13 ERA) vs. Adam Panayotovich, GF (0-4, 6.91 ERA)
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
They said it
“We’re figuring things out. We know each other and we’re treating each other like family. Every time we go out to play we always feel we’re going to win. It’s a team thing right now.” — Pedro Gonzalez
— Patti Arnold, The Daily Sentinel