With a patriotically dressed, season-best crowd on hand, tailgates happening across Lincoln Park and a fireworks display in the evening, Suplizio Field was the place to be for family fun on Independence Day.
Fans were treated to everything they could want from the hometown team's July 4 festivities Thursday. Everything, that is, except a Grand Junction Rockies victory.
The Rockies allowed four home runs, two by Jeremiah Jackson, and fell to Orem 8-4.
Grand Junction (9-10) has lost six of its past nine games.
"Our base running wasn't very good. We made five outs on the bases, so that's my biggest takeaway," said Rockies manager Jake Opitz. "Those two runs in the ninth happened because we got lost in twilight and just missed it. Not our best today."
The first four innings were a back-and-forth affair. The Owlz (7-12) went ahead 1-0 in the first inning on a solo home run by Caleb Scires off Rockies starting pitcher Anderson Amarista, who would pitch into the fifth inning.
Although the first inning saw no success at the plate for Grand Junction, the second inning was be different. Colin Simpson had the team's first hit of the evening, a double deep to center field. Simpson advanced to third on a Max George single, but moments later, he was tagged out trying to steal home.
That didn't mean the Rockies' scoring chance was gone, though. The next batter, Grand Junction High School graduate Owen Taylor, ripped a single to score George and Walking Cabrera for a 2-1 advantage.
Taylor has played many games at Suplizio Field prior to his professional career, but he had never played in the stadium with that many eyes on him.
"So far, since the summer started, this is the best turnout we've had," Taylor said. "It was really special out there. The energy, all the fans getting into it, a few waves going around... it was fun."
The Rockies' lead would only last one inning.
Jackson led off the top of the third inning with a solo home run to right-center field to tie the game. Jackson's blast was followed by a two-out RBI double by David Clawson, putting the Owlz ahead 3-2.
Once again, the Rockies responded.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, with Yolki Pena at third base after leading off with a triple, Julio Carreras, who had a team-high three hits, connected on an RBI single to tie the game.
"He's been working to get the ball more out in front and he's made solid progress," Opitz said of Carreras. "He took some of his early work into the game and he looked good. He stayed through some balls and hit his first home run of the year, so that was good."
That tie would remain until the fifth, when Jackson went yard for the second time, making it 4-3 Orem, and Amarista gave way to Juan Mejia on the mound.
Mejia wouldn't be in the game long. With two outs in the sixth inning, he gave up a two-run home run to Will Wilson to increase Orem's lead to 6-3.
Grand Junction threatened in the seventh inning.
Ronaiker Palma and Pena both singled, then advanced to third and second on a wild pitch. However, Eddy Diaz struck out to leave them stranded.
In the eighth, Carreras' solo home run brought the Rockies within 6-4, but that was as close as they would get.
The Owlz put it away in the top of the ninth, when a miscommunication on a pop-up between the Rockies' infielders and outfielders allowed two more runs to score.
Despite the loss, it was a learning experience for the Grand Junction players — especially those from the Dominican Republic who had never witnessed the Fourth of July.
"It's good for these guys to experience that," Opitz said. "It's fun for them. Great crowd tonight. Glad they got this experience on the Fourth."