Top picks shine
Dahl, Warner and Butler play well in GJ Rockies' victory
It’s a pretty good 1-2 combination — especially when you have the knockout punch at the plate.
Ryan Warner made his first professional start Tuesday for the Grand Junction Rockies and Eddie Butler his first pro appearance in relief, picking up the first win of his career.
And David Dahl gave them plenty of offense to work with in a 12-7 win over the Orem Owlz at Suplizio Field.
“I like that; (12) runs ... that’s different than college,” said Butler, who threw the fourth and fifth innings, allowing two hits, including a solo home run.
By that time, though, the Rockies (5-4) were up 8-1 and added three more in the fifth.
Dahl, the Rockies’ first-round draft pick (10th overall), hit a three-run triple down the right-field line in the first, beat out a bunt single in the third and tripled to the gap in right-center in the fourth, driving in five runs and scoring two.
When he got to third on his second triple of the night, he knew he had just missed it, even though it went to the wall.
“It was a changeup, so I got a little bit out front and I hit it a little bit off the end,” he said. “If I would have waited back, I probably could have hit it a little further, but I’m happy with a triple.”
Cesar Galvez beat out an infield single with one out in the first, Matt Wessinger singled up the middle and Ryan Garvey walked ahead of Dahl, who sent a screamer just inside the foul line past first base and into the right-field corner.
“First-pitch fastball,” he said. “The last couple of games I was getting jammed a lot, so before that at-bat, I thought, ‘He’s probably going to start you off with something inside, just don’t get jammed. Get the barrel there,’ and I ended up doing that.”
Juan Ciriaco walked and scored on Wessinger’s double in the second. In the fourth, with Max White on third and Ryan Garvey on first, Dahl lined a shot to the gap.
Orem center fielder Kyle Johnson and right fielder Jonathan Walsh both gave chase, nearly colliding, both diving for the ball, which skipped to the wall. Garvey scored from first and Dahl wheeled into third with his fourth extra-base hit of the season. Grand Junction had 14 hits, tying its season high.
“He’s a special player and not only that, but the intangibles he possesses, they’re part of the package,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said. “He has tremendous hand-eye coordination; he doesn’t strike out much. He’ll make contact and he’s got bat speed. It’s a nice combination.”
His second triple of the night was it for Orem starter Gabriel Perez, but the Rockies picked up three more in the fifth off Austin Adams on an RBI single by Galvez and a sacrifice fly to right by Wessinger.
White, who walked to load the bases, scored the Rockies’ 11th run of the game on a wild pitch.
Warner and Butler will follow one another in the next couple of times they’re scheduled to pitch.
“Realizing the age of this kid (Warner, who just graduated from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs) makes it even more impressive,” manager Tony Diaz said. “We’re piggybacking those two; the next time Butler will start and he’ll come out (for Warner).
“At some point we’ll stretch them both out and they’ll take spots in the rotation, but for the next couple of starts, they’ll be piggybacking. It’s a nice combo. Hopefully we get to a point with them that we just finish the game.”
Butler’s mother and grandmother made the trip from Virginia, arriving Tuesday afternoon for his first game He made it worth the trip, registering 98 on the radar gun.
“I was ready to be on the mound in front of people,” he said, acknowledging adrenaline was pumping pretty good when he took the mound.
“I got a little agitated with myself when I went 3-0 to the batter after giving up the line drive and the home run (in the fifth). I said all right, calm down, take a second and throw a couple of easy fastballs in there and give my teammates a shot to make a play.”
They did, turning a double play to get him out of the inning.
Warner went three innings, allowing three first-inning hits, but only one run, with his defense turning a double play and Garvey throwing out Michael Bolaski from left field trying to stretch a single into a double.
Both Warner and Butler are fine with the piggyback plan, and Diaz liked what he saw from the top two pitchers the club took in the draft.
“He’s got an electric arm and he showed it tonight,” Diaz said of Butler. “This guy can be a special force out of our rotation.
“He went after it. I would, too, with the stuff he’s got.”