GJ Rockies nearly rally from early deficit in loss to Owlz
Grand Junction Rockies manager Tony Diaz found out how his team handled playing from behind.
The Orem Owlz jumped to an early 5-0 lead and held on to defeat the Rockies 7-6 on Wednesday night at Suplizio Field. Orem (2-8) ended a five-game losing streak.
“I’m very proud of the effort we displayed tonight,” Rockies manager Tony Diaz said. “We got down 5-0 and we kept battling back. We’re not going to win every single game; we know that. Our main goal is to handle the ballgame and put up a fight.”
Orem jumped on Grand Junction starter Matt Carasiti, who fell behind in the pitch counts early, scoring two runs in the first and three in the third.
The Owlz’s Jarrod Parks bounced a 2-0 pitch in the parking lot for a three-run home run in the third.
Grand Junction (5-5) responded with three runs in the bottom half.
Jeff Popick led off the bottom of the third with a single. Chris Cowell followed with a double. Cesar Galvez singled home Popick and Cowell scored on a Matt Wessinger groundout.
Jason Stolz followed with a RBI single to score Galvez and chase Orem starter Mark Sappington. Orem escaped the inning with a 5-3 lead.
The Rockies cut Orem’s lead to one in the fourth when Popick, who walked, scored on Max White’s groundout to shortstop.
“We still capitalized,” Diaz said. “We got some situational hitting. We got RBI with ground balls. (Max) White, (Matt) Wessinger got RBI ground balls so they got them in. We did a fine job offensively.”
Orem took advantage of an error in the fifth and sixth innings to plate two runs.
The Owlz’s bullpen took care of the rest. Nataniel Rodriguez (1-0) gave up two runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. He relieved Sappington, who was pulled in the third. Brandon Efferson struck out four Grand Junction batters without giving up a run or hit in 2 2/3 innings for the save.
“He pitched backwards,” Diaz said. “Sometimes when you get a pitcher that can pitch backwards, throw breaking balls in fastball counts at this level and command it, they can be tough. He kept us off balance.”
The Orem pitchers, though, couldn’t slow down a confident David Dahl. The Colorado Rockies first-round pick was 3 for 3 with one walk and two RBI.
“I’m feeling good right now,” Dahl said. “My dad was here a couple days ago and videotaping all my swings. Everything looked good, but I was letting the ball get too deep, not catching it out front.
“I worked with Drew (Saylor), the hitting coach, on getting the barrel to the ball more. I feel like that’s helped me out. It made me more calm and comfortable in the box.”
Carasiti (0-1) allowed five earned runs on eight hits and two walks in four innings.
The bullpen kept the Rockies in it, limiting Orem to two runs on six hits in four innings.
“(Carasiti) had a rough start, but he battled back, he gave us a chance,” Diaz said. ‘That’s all you can ask for. The pitching, there was some bright spots out there. (Rayan) Gonzalez did a fantastic job, bases loaded nobody out and minimizing the damage and kept us in the game.”
Josh Mueller (1-1) is scheduled to make his third start for the Rockies tonight at Ogden.