Rox split doubleheader with Helena
It was so close to being a turnaround day for the Grand Junction Rockies.
Instead of riding the momentum of an exciting 3-2, 8-inning victory over Helena in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, the wheels came off in the second game, a 16-3 loss.
“I was really happy with the way the guys played the first game, a good win for us,” GJ manager Anthony Sanders said. “We came out flat and obviously couldn’t get any strikes in that one inning. It’s hard to come back from something like that.”
It was 5-2 when the sixth inning started, so the Rockies had a chance at the sweep.
The pitching, though, took that chance away, walking seven batters in the inning that lasted roughly 45 minutes. The Brewers batted around before an out was recorded, with Billy Waltrip continuing to struggle.
He walked the first three men he faced, and an error by first baseman Jordan Patterson, who didn’t catch a throw from second, got the first run of the inning home.
Renaldo Jenkins laced a three-run, stand-up triple down the right-field line, and another walk was it for Waltrip, who allowed six runs without recording an out.
Scott Firth walked three of the seven men he faced and gave up a double, and Daniel Palo finally ended it. Helena scored 11 runs on four hits in the inning.
“I had to use a lot of guys in the pen tonight that I didn’t want to use,” Sanders said.
Seven walks and two errors, obviously, were the Rockies’ downfall in the inning.
The opening game, though, was the polar opposite of the nightcap’s sixth inning.
The teams traded one run at a time, and the Brewers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh were it not for a heads-up defensive play.
With Angel Ortega on second with one out, Dionis Hinojosa grounded back to pitcher Dylan Stamey, who threw him out at first. Ortega took a wide turn at third and Correlle Prime alertly threw back across the diamond.
Prime said he noticed Ortega was aggressive on the bases, taking wide turns, and made him pay.
“Once Dylan got me the ball I knew he was going to be aggressive,” Prime said. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye so I just threw it to Ryan (McMahon) and we caught him leaning.”
McMahon threw to catcher Jairo Rosario, who ran Ortega back toward third and tagged him out to preserve the 2-2 tie.
“Prime and I made eye contact and I threw my hands up and he was already throwing the ball,” McMahon said.
“He made a great read on that and the guy slipped and we got him in the pickle and got the out.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Tapia reached on a fielder’s choice and Cesar Galvez hit a hard grounder back to the mound. Pitcher Andy Hillis knocked down the ball, but his throw inexplicably went straight into right field, allowing Tapia to take third.
McMahon hit a chopper to second, where Ortega, the shortstop, and Jenkins, the second baseman, got crossed up. Ortega fielded the ball as he and Jenkins tried to avoid colliding, but McMahon beat the off-balance throw to set off a celebration down the first-base line.
“I was just thinking get a base hit and got lucky with that little dribbler,” McMahon said. “I just hustled and good things happened.”
Stamey got the win in the well-pitched game by both clubs. Joel Payamps allowed two runs on four hits through five innings and Yan threw a perfect sixth.
Helena starter Anthony Banda, who threw for San Jacinto (Texas) College-North in the 2012 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, threw seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four.
Tapia hit his fifth home run of the season in the third inning, and Terry McClure walked to lead off the sixth and scored on a base hit to center by McMahon.
“It’s hard to beat up on the guys tonight, because they did come out and play a hard first game,” Sanders said. “The second game we were just really flat.
“We split. Worse things could happen.”
Notes: Shortstop Emerson Jimenez is out indefinitely with a sore right arm, Sanders said.
“It’s just sore,” Sanders said. “He’s a 17-year-old kid playing so many games for the first time. It’s just wear and tear.”
Outfielder Cole Norton has been out all month with a sore left arm. ...
Jon Gray, the Rockies’ first-round draft pick who started the season in Grand Junction, was selected the Class A Advanced California League pitcher of the week on Monday. Gray struck out a career-high 10 batters last Tuesday and followed it up with eight strikeouts Sunday. He’s 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 36 strikeouts for Modesto.