Seven is enough
GJ rallies past Orem in finale of weeklong series
It’ll be nice to play someone else.
After a week’s worth of games against Orem, Grand Junction capped back-to-back series against its Pioneer League rival Sunday afternoon with a 11-8 win over the South Division-leading Owlz at Suplizio Field.
“We got a lot of football scores going up on the scoreboard during this series,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “It’s a team we’ll definitely see later on down the road, but it will be a nice change of pace.”
Kevin Padlo hit a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the eighth inning to break an 8-8 tie and Matt Pierpont picked up the save, his third of the season.
“Our closer is still to be determined, but Matty has come in and closed the door for us a few times this season,” Sanders said. “He’s definitely making a case for himself.”
The Rockies used a big eighth inning to combat a couple of crooked numbers on the scoreboard by Orem.
With the Owlz trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Andrew Daniel hit a three-run home run into the left-field bleachers and Zach Houchins added a two-run shot to center.
Former Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt, in Grand Junction on a rehab assignment, shut the Owlz down with a solid sixth inning.
The 39-year-old threw 18 pitches, 12 for strikes, with a strikeout and a walk. He topped out at 90 mph and surrendered one hit, and threw effective off-speed pitches.
Sanders said the results of Betancourt’s outings are “meaningless” other than how his arm responds as the veteran works his way back from Tommy John surgery last September. How long he remains in Grand Junction will be a “touch-and-feel process,” Sanders said.
Still, Sanders said Betancourt’s presence with the team has been meaningful.
“He’s a professional,” Sanders said. “He’s goes about everything like a professional, and that’s great for the kids to see.”
Betancourt threw only the one inning, and Orem found its power swing again in the seventh against Marc Magliaro. Michael Hermosillo hammered a three-run home run to right field to give Orem an 8-6 lead.
Grand Junction picked up one run on an RBI single from Dom Nunez. It looked as if an errant throw to the plate would score the tying run, but the ball struck the umpire and rolled right back to the catcher, keeping Forrest Wall at third.
Randy Reyes walked to load the bases and Luis Castro also walked, scoring Wall with the tying run.
That’s when Padlo crushed a double into the left-center gap.
“I saw a fastball off the inside of the plate,” Padlo said. “Didn’t think it was a strike, but that’s how it was called. Saw a slider over the heart of the plate but didn’t feel like swinging at it. I was down 0-2, so I was just trying to stay calm.”
Completely calm, Padlo jumped on a belt-high fastball.
“This game was big,” Padlo said. “Obviously Orem is a good team because they’re winning the division right now. They can really swing it, and for us to pick up a few wins in the seven games we played against them is huge heading into the off day.
“We just need to regroup and use that to our advantage.”
Hunter Brothers picked up the win in relief, his first decision of the season.
Padlo was 2 for 5 with a run and three RBI. Nunez finished 2 for 4 with three RBI. Matt McBride, on a rehab assignment from Triple-A Colorado Springs, was 2 for 4 with a double that bounced hard off the wall in left field.
The Rockies are 9-2 when scoring first, and Sanders said Grand Junction needs the pitching to back it up.
“You see what Matty (Pierpont) did today, and you see Hunter come in and get the win and throw some strikes,” Sanders said. “We need more performances like that.”