Hit the mitt: Polanco strikes out 10 for GJ

Grand Junction Rockies shortstop Max George forces out Great Falls base runner Mason Robbins at second base and throws to first in time for the double play in the in the third inning Saturday night at Suplizio Field.

Carlos Polanco had a simple explanation for his success Saturday night.

“I focused on the glove, the catcher’s glove,” he said through a translator.

It wasn’t always the prettiest, but Polanco battled through six innings and struck out 10 batters to lead the Grand Junction Rockies to a 5-3 win over Great Falls in a Pioneer League game at Suplizio Field.

The Rockies (35-22, 12-7 second half) were set down in order during the first and second innings and struggled to generate offense early. The bats never really picked up, as the Voyagers outhit Grand Junction 11-8, but the Rockies took advantage of timely hits and stolen bases.

Polanco, outside of a surrendering a couple of home runs, made sure Grand Junction didn’t need a ton of offense.

The Voyagers (31-27, 8-12) opened the scoring with a two-run home run from Zach Fisher in the top of the first. Then, Polanco struck out five batters in the first two innings.

Grand Junction didn’t bounce back until the bottom of the third, when Forrest Wall’s RBI triple and a key stolen base by Max George set up a two-run single from Dom Nunez.

The 3-2 lead was short-lived, however, as Patrick Palmeiro led off the top of the fourth with a solo home run. After that, Polanco locked down Great Falls.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander induced two groundouts and a flyout to end the top of the fourth, then struck out the side in the fifth.

“I worked my fastball down in the zone and used my slider,” Polanco said.

Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said practice paid off for Polanco.

“He really turned the corner tonight,” Sanders said. “He’s a guy who has put in a lot of work in behind the scenes to get his off-speed pitches over the plate. It finally showed up for him tonight.”

A run-scoring groundout from Terry McClure and an RBI double from Roberto Ramos in the bottom of the fifth inning gave Grand Junction a 5-3 lead.

Ramos finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run. After a 2-for-4 performance Friday, it was Ramos’ first instance of back-to-back games with multiple hits since arriving from Tri-City on Aug. 2.

“He came in late and tried to put some pressure on himself early in his time here,” Sanders said. “He’s calmed down a little bit and has had some knocks for us. Him relaxing is a big part of that.”

Omar Carrizales finished 2 for 3 with two stolen bases, giving him 12 steals for the season.

For Great Falls, all but one player in the starting lineup collected a hit.

The victory was Polanco’s sixth of the season. Taylor Black converted the save, his second of the year.

Gettin’ chilly for charity

The ice bucket challenge, the latest Internet craze, has roped in everyone from Bill Gates to Robert Downey Jr., and Saturday the Grand Junction Rockies took part.

It involves having a bucket of icy water dumped over your head, and then challenging specific friends or colleagues to take part. The videos are all over YouTube.

As bizarre as some Internet fads are, this one is for a good cause, as people taking part are urged to donate money to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that can cause muscle atrophy and severe spasms.

Those challenged have 24 hours to respond, or can avoid the chill by donating to the ALS Association.

The Grand Junction Rockies posted a video to YouTube of the players and coaches getting doused by 10 interns with buckets and water coolers filled with icy water.

Before being dunked, Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders called on the other Colorado Rockies’ minor league affiliates and their managers to repeat the challenge.

“These guys are young and know all about that stuff,” Sanders said. “I hadn’t heard of it, but I’d seen McClure and Nunez doing (the ice bucket challenge) in the shower and thinking, ‘Man, what are you guys doing in here?’

“But it was a good thing to do. We lost a tough one last night, but you wouldn’t have noticed after doing this. It’s for a good cause, too.”

Search “Grand Junction Rockies ice bucket challenge” on http://www.YouTube.com.

In the past two weeks, the ALS Association estimated roughly $4 million has been raised by donations accompanying the viral videos.


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