Grand Junction Rockies recap, July 5, 2017
Orem 12, Grand Junction 4
Wednesday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 5-12, Orem 12-5
On the mound
It was not a good night for starter Logan Longwith (1-2), the free-agent pickup from the independent leagues. Longwith was roughed up from the start, giving up a three-run home run to Harrison Wenson high and deep over the left-field wall. Longwith gave up seven runs on nine hits, and all but the first run scored on home runs. Eight of Orem’s first nine runs came on home runs.
“We just can’t seem to get a break and you don’t get the ball down and give up a couple long ones and a solo turns into a two-run and then a three-run and it just seems like the runs add up on us,” GJ manager Frank Gonzales said. “Longwith, he’s out there competing, but they got him.”
Orem’s Chris Rodriguez was outstanding, retiring the first eight Rockies in order and allowing only a double to shallow left by Nic Motley, the No. 9 hitter. Rodriguez then got Shael Mendoza to ground out to short, needing only 29 pitches (23 strikes) through three innings. That was the only blemish on his line — 5 innings, one hit, no runs, no walks, four strikeouts, 51 pitches, 40 strikes. He lowered his ERA from 9.82 to 6.75.
The message to his pitching staff is simple, Gonzales said: “Attacking the bottom part of the strike zone. Especially in this park, but in any park in this league, the ball goes out and we got hurt being up.”
In the field
Ryan Vilade learned the hard way that Gonzales expects players to hustle. The Rockies’ second-round draft pick started at shortstop and grounded out in the first inning. After taking the field to warm up in the top of the second, he was replaced by Alan Trejo.
“He just didn’t get down the line,” Gonzales said. “That’s one thing that’s an absolute with us and we want to make sure if it’s an out that we run it out.”
The key inning
Orem put up four runs in the first inning, with Brandon Sandoval hitting a single that was misplayed in center by Pedro Gonzalez, allowing Sandoval to take third. Ryan Vega brought him home with a single up the middle, followed by a base hit by David Mackinnon. With two out, Wenson crushed the ball over the left-field wall, which was picked up later by a golfer. The 4-0 lead was padded with solo home runs in the second by Torii Hunter Jr., who hit one off the video board, and Sandoval, who went out to left.
“This team, when we first started playing them, they didn’t seem to swing the bats that aggressively and now we’ve got them where they’re swinging the bats comfortably and we’ve got to figure out a way to stop that,” Gonzales said.
Trejo ended the shutout with a two-run triple in the sixth inning, scoring Mendoza and Gonzalez, who hit back-to-back two-out singles. Mendoza hit his second home run of the season in the eighth after Motley walked.
Around the diamond
Torii Hunter Jr., the son of former MLB outfielder Torii Hunter, played football and baseball at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Angels in the 23rd round of the 2016 draft. He gave up his fifth year of football eligibility to begin his baseball career. His father played five years for the Angels and retired in 2015 after 19 seasons. … Nate Coronado, former independent leagues infielder, was released after Wednesday’s game. He appeared in five games, hitting .450 with three home runs and seven RBI… After drawing 5,267 fans on Tuesday, the biggest crowd of the season only 1,419 came through the gates Wednesday, the smallest crowd in the firsteight home games.
Orem at Grand Junction, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Anderson Amarista, GJ (0-0, 6.97 ERA) vs. Elvin Rodriguez, Orem (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
They said it
“The way we gave up runs tonight and the way we pitched, we were out of the ballgame early. Offensively, we had some two-strike hits that we did all right with tonight, so Lee (hitting coach Lee Stevens) was in a weird way, kind of pleased with some of the efforts there.” — Frank Gonzales
— Patti Arnold, The Daily Sentinel