Surprise ending

Rain suspends game after GJ Rox tie contest with late rally

Grand Junction Rockies first baseman Correlle Prime tries to catch a foul ball near the screen behind the first-base dugout Thursday night in the fifth inning of the Rockies’ game with Billings. Rain with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning suspended the game until today. The teams are tied 2-2.

Billings’ Ronald Bueno reaches to tag Jairo Rosario after Rosario tried to steal second base in the fifth inning. Rosario was safe, but slid over the bag, where Bueno tagged him.

Anthony Sanders liked how the momentum finally swung to his side of the field Thursday.

All the Grand Junction Rockies skipper wanted was another 20 minutes or so to see if his club could finish it off.

“I didn’t like the way the momentum was going early in the game, but Perkins came up with that big hit and got everyone back in the game,” Sanders said. “We had them on the ropes when the rain came, but we’re in a good position right now.”

The clouds that built over Suplizio Field all afternoon, though, finally gave way, and after a 34-minute rain delay, officials suspended the game, tied 2-2 with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

The suspended game will resume at 5:30 this evening, with tonight’s game to follow. The Rockies’ fireworks show will follow the conclusion of the nine-inning series finale.

“It was sprinkling at the end of the eighth, and the top of the ninth it started raining pretty hard,” Grand Junction reliever Jacob Newberry said. “Right when I came into the dugout, it started pouring.”

Correlle Prime flied out to right to lead off the ninth, then the umpires sent the teams to their dugouts.

A great pitching matchup between Grand Junction’s Zach Jemiola and Ben Lively, the Mustangs’ fourth-round pick this June, had the game sailing until the rain came.

Jemiola allowed only one run in his six innings, and it came after a throwing error allowed Ty Washington to take third after a double to right. A sacrifice fly got him home. Billings made it 2-0 on a solo home run by Jose Ortiz in the seventh off reliever Carlos Esteves.

The Rockies couldn’t do much of anything against Lively, who threw three no-hit innings, facing only 10 batters. He walked Robbie Perkins with two out in the third, the only man to reach base against him.

Daniel Wright was just as solid through the sixth, allowing two hits.

In the eighth, Grand Junction finally found some offense.

Jairo Rosario beat out a broken-bat infield single that caromed off the glove of Austin Salter. With two out, Perkins lined his second home run of the season over the right-field wall to tie it at 2-2.

“When I hit the ball I didn’t think it was going out,” Perkins said. “I was running hard trying to get to second base, get in scoring position. It carried out and worked out really well.”

The game took a strange twist in the sixth inning with Billings up 1-0, and the Rockies might have caught a break in the process.

Jonathan Reynoso walked to lead off the inning, and when Ty Washington struck out, Reynoso attempted to steal second. Rosario came up throwing, but when he did, Washington was holding his bat in the path of the throw. The ball hit the bat and popped in the air.

“He always thought he was going to steal second, so he called for a slider away so he knew the batter was going to swing across the zone,” said Carlos Esteves, translating for Rosario. “So he took that opportunity to throw the ball so he could get the interference.

“He said when he threw the ball, the ball hit the bat of the hitter.”

Home plate umpire Tyler Ferguson called batter interference and ruled Reynoso out.

Under Rule 6.06(c) of the Major League Baseball rule book, which deals with batter interference, Reynoso should not have been out and returned to first.

In the comment section of the rule, it states, “If the batter interferes with the catcher, the plate umpire shall call ‘interference.’ The batter is out and the ball dead. No player may advance on such interference (offensive interference) and all runners must return to the last base that was, in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference.”

The next batter, Carlos Sanchez, lined a double to right and took third on a wild pitch, either one of which could have scored Reynoso.

Newberry shut down the Mustangs in the final two innings, getting out of a jam in the ninth, stranding runners at second and third when he struck out Nick Benedetto.

“Just get in there, keeping the ball down and throwing strikes,” Newberry said of the ninth inning. “Just throwing whatever Rosario is telling me to throw. He’s got a really good mind back there and I trust in what he tells me to throw.”

Most of the Rockies hadn’t seen it rain in Grand Junction yet. It cooled things down, but they really wish it would have stayed away just a half-hour longer.

“We got the momentum back our way,” Perkins said “It would have been nice to just finish it up.”


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