Grand Junction Rockies recap, July 26, 2017

Grand Junction 6,
Great falls 4
Wednesday at Suplizio Field


Grand Junction 18-18, Great Falls 13-23

On the mound

Jeffri Ocando pitched six sharp innings, allowing only four hits and one run. The 18-year-old struck out seven with no walks.

The first two hitters Ocando faced struck out looking, and the third hitter nearly did the same. Ocando worked to a 1-2 count and narrowly missed off the inside edge to bring the count even. After that, Ocando coaxed a groundout to end the inning.

The lone bump in his outing came in the third, when he gave up a one-out double to Tate Blackman. A wild pitch moved Blackman to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly. The damage was limited by Grand Junction outfielder Casey Golden, who slammed into the wall in right field to make the leaping catch.

Great Falls had two runners in scoring position in the fourth after a one-out single and an error, but Ocando struck out the next batter and was saved by center fielder Joey Bartosic, who laid out for a diving catch to end the frame.

Ocando struck out the side in the fifth and a quick 5-4-3 double play ended the sixth.

“All of it’s been good — his energy, his confidence, his conviction when he throws a pitch,” Grand Junction manager Frank Gonzales said of Ocando. “I think he really believes he’s going to get outs when he’s throwing out there. We tell our guys all the time, if in that moment when the ball leaves your hand, you believe you’re going to get somebody out, then you’re going to get somebody out. I think he’s got all the belief in the world right now.”

Once Ocando departed, the bullpen nearly lost the Rockies’ 6-1 lead.

Colton Hathcock was smooth through the seventh inning, but loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs. A double from Franklin Reyes scored two runs and a sacrifice fly added another.

Jefry Valdez stabilized things in the ninth for Grand Junction, earning the save as he secured Ocando’s victory.

Ocando improves to 4-0 with the win.

The key inning

Great Falls tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning, but Grand Junction retook the lead for good in the bottom of the third.

Nic Motley led off with a strange triple. The catcher looped a ball up the right-field line, where Great Falls’ Nolan Brown gave chase. Brown dove for the ball and snowconed it in his glove for a fraction of a second, but the impact of hitting the ground knocked the ball loose, sending it arcing over the prone outfielder. Brown popped up quickly and made a throw that beat Motley to third base. Motley slid feet first, well wide of the bag, and got his hand under the tag.
Designated hitter Kyle Cunningham fisted a broken-bat single into left field to score Motley, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. He took third on a groundout — the first out of the inning — and scored on a second grounder.

At the plate

Every Grand Junction hitter reached base at least once and eight of the nine starters had hits. Casey Golden was the only Grand Junction player with multiple hits, lacing an RBI single to center field in the fifth and a leadoff single in the seventh.

Around the diamond

A pair of outfielders in the Colorado Rockies’ minor-league system were selected to the Northwest League team in the Northwest League-Pioneer League All-Star Game.

Daniel Jipping, taken in the 22nd round of this year’s MLB Draft, and Steven Linkous, taken in the 22nd round of last year’s draft, will represent the Boise Hawks in the game.

Jipping, drafted out of Central Michigan, is hitting .248 with a league-best nine home runs.

Linkous, in his second year in Boise, is hitting .302 with a league-best 19 steals.

Those two will join three Grand Junction Rockies at the game — shortstop Ryan Vilade, second baseman Shael Mendoza and relief pitcher Michael Agis.

On deck

GJ at Ogden, 7 p.m., Lindquist Field

Starting pitchers: Lucas Gilbreath, GJ (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs. TBA


— Matt Meyer, The Daily Sentinel


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