GJ forces Game 3 in playoff series with extra-inning win
OGDEN, Utah — For awhile it looked bleak. You could see it on the faces of all the purple-clad fans that made the trip to Lindquist Field, but you didn’t see it on anyone wearing a black jersey in the third-base dugout.
Saturday night in Ogden, the Rockies did to the Raptors what the Raptors did at Suplizio Field on Friday. They won in 11 innings, 8-7, extending the Pioneer League South Division Championship Series to a do-or-die Game 3 this afternoon.
The Rockies trailed 5-2 with one out and nobody on base in the eighth inning, but a five-run rally ensued, capped by a Ben Waldrip three-run home run. Even after Ogden answered with two runs in their half to tie the game, Grand Junction didn’t waver.
Even after stranding a runner at third with the game tied in the ninth, the Rockies got off the mat.
Scott Oberg who allowed runs in all three appearances against the Raptors, including Game 1 on Friday, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to send it to extras.
After Grand Junction failed to score a run in the top of the 10th, Shawn Stuart stranded the winning run at third base in the bottom of the 10th. Then the Rockies broke through in the 11th, and it all started with two out.
Matt Wessinger singled, moved to second when David Dahl reached on an error, and Wilfredo Rodriguez brought him in with a single to give the Rockies just their second lead of the series.
Stuart worked around a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning to seal the win.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Rockies manager Tony Diaz said. “To be able to come back on the road multiple times is such a testament to the heart and fight of this team.”
Jeremy Rathjen gave the Raptors an early lead when he hit a solo home run off Jayson Aquino with two out in the first inning, and Ogden added to it on a Bladimir Franco RBI single to make it 2-0.
The Rockies tied it in the fifth on David Dahl’s two-run single, but Ogden rallied in the bottom of the inning.
Aquino started the frame by walking Malcolm Holland, who proceeded to steal second and third base. He scored when Eric Smith lined a single off the glove of Ashley Graeter to regain the lead for the Raptors. Rathjen doubled him home to make it a 4-2 game, which knocked Aquino out of the game.
Jonathan Vargas replaced him, and with Rathjen at third, he delivered a wild pitch to give the Raptors a 5-2 lead, but he finished the inning and threw a scoreless sixth.
Rayan Gonzalez entered in the bottom of the seventh and let the first two batters reach base. Mike Mason was brought in, and he worked out of the jam to keep it a three-run game.
“Mason saved us,” Diaz said. “Who knows what happens if he can’t get us out of that jam.”
The win is the first playoff victory for a Rockies Pioneer League affiliate, and after losing five straight to start the season at Lindquist Field, the Rockies have now won three of four.
Game 3 will be this afternoon in Ogden with Ryan Warner getting the start for the Rockies against Carlos Frias. First pitch will be at 4 p.m.