Two-run home run by Orem lifts Owlz to a 3-1 victory
Hot days with no wind are hitting days.
That was not Sunday.
With the wind gusting up to 31 mph and blowing straight in from center field, the Grand Junction Rockies didn’t have a base hit out of the infield until the eighth inning.
That one, a double to right-center by Jordan Patterson, came with two out in the eighth and he was stranded at third in the Rockies’ 3-1 loss to Orem at Suplizio Field.
“The wind was brutal,” said Patterson, who had a bunt single in the sixth inning, one of three bunt singles for Grand Junction.
Patterson had hit a home run in four of his past five games entering Sunday, but knew there was little chance of extending that mark.
“It’s a tough atmosphere to hit in, the wind blowing straight in,” he said. “It takes the long ball out of it putting it in the air, so you have to make adjustments as a hitter, put it on the ground and let the defense work.”
His double came after Raimel Tapia was robbed of a base hit by a leaping Alex Allbritton, who speared his line drive headed to left field to lead off the inning.
“Tapia hit that ball hard and if it falls in, it’s a different ballgame,” Patterson said.
One of the few hits — there were only 11 total in the game — that did leave the infield decided it, a no-doubt, two-run home run to left in the top of the ninth by Orem’s Ryan Dalton off reliever Scott Firth. It came with two out after Allbritton singled up the middle.
“The wind played a huge factor in today’s game,” said first baseman Correlle Prime, who also beat out a bunt for a base hit. “They had that sac fly (to score the Owlz first run in the fourth) and the kid crushed the ball. I hit a ball to left and the wind just took it. It was a bad day to be a hitter today.”
It was a good day to pitch, though, as long as the ball was down in the zone.
Peter Tago was solid for 6 1/3 innings, allowing only the one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out three.
“I try not to worry about (the wind), go out and do my thing, quick tempo and throw strikes,” Tago said. “I know I’m stronger and better than the outside distractions, so I try not to let that bother me.”
The Owlz tried to slow down his tempo by stepping out of the box, but as soon as they stepped back in, he was ready to throw.
“I like to be in control of the baseball game when I’m on the mound,” Tago said. “When I have my fastball command, that makes everything better.”
His defense turned a pair of double plays behind him when Orem got men on base. The run he allowed came on an infield hit that shortstop Zach Osborne made a diving stop on, but was just a shade late with the throw to first.
Tago hit the next batter and Allbritton bunted the runners over before Ranyelmy Mendoza lifted a fly ball to center for the run.
Grand Junction scored its only run in the first inning.
Terry McClure walked, stole second and scored when Prime beat out an infield single to short and the throw to first sailed high.
Prime accidentally upended first baseman Ryan Dalton, who leaped to try to catch the throw. Prime was thrown out running to third on the throwing error.
Prime had a chance to get Patterson home in the eighth with the go-ahead run, but struck out.
“That’s my job, to drive in the run and I didn’t execute,” he said. “I could have put the ball in play, the shadows can get bad (later) in the day, so there’s the wind and the shadows. It was a good day to be a pitcher, not a hitter.”
Notes: After the game, Jose Briceno was promoted to Class A Asheville. The popular catcher cleaned out his locker and took one last glimpse at Suplizio Field’s home plate area as he left Sunday evening. He flies out early this morning.
“I want to (enjoy) the moment,” he said with a big smile. “I’m excited. I’ve played there so I know I can play pretty good there.”
Briceno played 10 games to open this season in Asheville, hitting .303 before being assigned to Grand Junction to work with the young pitchers, especially those from the Dominican Republic in their first year of pro ball in the U.S.
He had his 16-game hitting streak snapped Saturday and didn’t play Sunday. ...
Alex Balog, the Rockies’ second-round draft pick in June, makes his professional debut tonight against Orem and will be on a pitch count, manager Anthony Sanders said. Balog has been out with a strained muscle in his back. … Outfielder Jeff Popick, a Colorado Mesa graduate, should get into lineup during the homestand, Sanders said. Popick has been out all season with a strained hamstring.