Grand Junction Rockies recap, Sept. 6, 2017
Ogden 11, Grand Junction 7
Wednesday at Lindquist Field
Grand Junction 37-36, 19-16 second half; Ogden 45-28, 22-13
Raptors win race
Grand Junction fought off playoff elimination for two straight games with thrilling come-from-behind wins at Suplizio Field. Once the series moved to Utah, the Rockies didn’t have enough left, although they made it interesting, loading the bases down four in the ninth inning.
Down 11-6, Jeff Moberg drew a one-out walk and Kennard McDowell singled. After Shael Mendoza struck out, Joey Bartosic singled in Moberg, and Casey Golden was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Chad Spanberger. On a 1-2 pitch, he hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line, but Luis Paz made a diving stop and beat Spanberger to first to start the Raptors’ celebration.
Ogden will play Orem in a best-of-three series in the South Division semifinals next week. The winner faces the North Division champion in a best-of-three championship series between Missoula and either Great Falls or Billings.
Grand Junction made the Pioneer League playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but has come up short every season since.
On the mound
For the second straight night, Grand Junction’s starting pitching faltered, with Jeffri Ocando struggling through two innings. He allowed six runs on eight hits and struck out two. Hunter Williams quieted Ogden over the next two innings, allowing only a pair of hits and Derrik Watson (1-1) allowed five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Michael Agis gave up two hits over the final two innings.
At the plate
Spanberger hit his 19th home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth, putting him one behind Casey Golden for the team lead. The Rockies have hit 108 home runs in 73 games, a Pioneer League record.
The Rockies spotted Ogden a six-run lead, then, just like Monday and Tuesday, came roaring back to tie the game.
The Raptors roughed up Ocando for six runs in the second inning, sending 10 men to the plate.
Grand Junction scored three runs in each of the third and fourth innings to tie the game at 6-6.
With two runners on, Mendoza laced a triple to right and scored on a groundout by Bartosic in the third. After Williams retired Ogden in order, the Rockies went right back on the offensive, with Spanberger hitting a home run to lead things off. Brett Stephens reached on a two-out single and came home when Moberg hit his ninth home run of the season.
Ogden scored five two-out runs over the sixth and seventh innings to go up 11-6.
Grand Junction’s offense shut down after Moberg’s home run in the fourth, going hitless until Todd Czinege singled in the eighth.
Around the diamond
Lancaster, the Class A affiliate of Colorado, opened the California League playoffs Wednesday night against Rancho Cucamonga. All but one player in Lancaster’s starting lineup was a former Grand Junction Rockies player, including shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who was moved from Double A Hartford after that season ended to get more playing time. Rodgers missed much of August with an injury. Former Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders is the Jethawks’ development supervisor. The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are managed by former Grand Junction hitting coach Drew Saylor. ... Assistant coach Lee Stevens was ejected in the fifth inning after Golden was called out on strikes, his first ejection in two stints as GJ’s hitting coach. ... Grand Junction, which started the season 5-13, can still finish over .500 for only the third time in franchise history (44-35 in 2012, 43-33 in 2014) by winning two of its final three games.
Grand Junction at Ogden, 6:30 p.m., Lindquist Field
Starting pitchers: Lucas Gilbreath, GJ (2-3, 5.08 ERA) vs. Adalberto Pena, OG (0-3, 6.02 ERA)
— Sentinel staff