McMahon's key hit lifts GJ Rockies to win
Ryan McMahon reverted back to the days when he was in Little League and it worked.
The Grand Junction Rockies’ third baseman snapped a cold spell at the plate with three hits, including a two-run triple in the seventh Tuesday night, to lift the Rockies to a 5-3 victory over the Orem Owlz at Suplizio Field.
“I literally went back to the swing thought I had since Little League, which is just sit on the back leg and play pepper up the middle and it worked,” McMahon said. “My dad sent me a text, ‘Go back to your swing and thought in Little League.’ “
He was 1 for 17 in his past five games.
McMahon’s hit capped a three-run inning to give the Rockies (3-4 second half, 24-21) the lead shortly after Grand Junction starter Devin Burke — in his longest outing of the season — left the game trailing 3-2.
“It was disappointing (to leave trailing),” Burke said. “Our offense put together some runs late, which was fantastic. I thought I pitched better than what the scoreboard said, but we came up big late offensively and that was the difference in the game.”
After giving up a double to the first batter he faced, Burke retired 12 consecutive hitters.
He had a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Orem’s Chad Hinshaw reached on a fielder’s choice. Hinshaw stole second, then third and scored when Rockies’ catcher Jairo Rosario’s pickoff throw sailed into left field.
Two batters later, Cambric Moye drove a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a 3-2 Owlz lead.
“I made one bad pitch, he ran into for a home run,” Burke said. “After that, I had to concentrate on slowing myself down and keeping the ball down in the zone.”
Burke limited Orem to three runs on four hits with five strikeouts and one walk in 6 2/3 innings.
“It’s not surprising for me to see that,” Rockies manager Anthony Sanders said. “He’s been doing that all year. He’s had some spot starts, but he gives us a quality start every time he gets the ball.”
The bullpen relied on the defense to give the Rockies a chance to rally. Carlos Estevez (4-1) picked up the win, despite allowing three walks and one hit in 2/3 of an inning. Dylan Stamey induced a double play to get the Rockies out of trouble in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his sixth save of the season.
“That’s been our Achilles’ heel lately, that sixth, seventh and eighth inning,” Sanders said. “The guys did a good job tonight.”
The Rockies took an early 2-0 lead, but couldn’t break it open, leaving 11 runners on base.
Terry McClure tripled to lead off the fourth and tried to score with one out on a hard hit ball to Orem’s second baseman, but was thrown out at home plate. The Owlz escaped the inning without allowing a run.
“I was hoping to bust this game open a little earlier, but we failed a few times with a man on third and less than two outs,” Sanders said. “Some guys came up big for us.”
Miguel Dilone did with a one-out base hit to score Correlle Prime to tie the game 3-3 in the seventh.
“We’ve had a couple games we couldn’t make the adjustment at a good time,” Dilone said. “Rosario couldn’t move the runner up. The only thing I thought was to try to pick him up.”
Dilone saw nothing but fastballs, he said, and hit the sixth one for a single.
“The second half of the season, we’ve been struggling, but we’ve been working to get better and end the season good,” Dilone said.
McMahon followed with his two-run triple, putting the Rockies up 5-3.
“I was thrown a lot of changeups the at-bat before and the pitch I hit was a changeup,” McMahon said. “I was looking for a ball up in the zone I could hit hard and I swung.”
Notes: Jon Gray, who was promoted from Grand Junction to Class A Advanced Modesto last week, made a quick impression on the California League. Gray was selected the league’s pitcher of the week Monday after his debut performance, pitching five shutout innings and striking out seven to pick up his first professional win. In 18 1/3 innings as a professional, Gray has struck out 22 and walked only two batters.