By Luke O’Roark | Loroark@postregister.com
Grand Junction just couldn’t stop hitting home runs during its sixth meeting with Idaho Falls Monday at Melalueca Field.
The Rockies beat the Chukars, 9-4, behind five home runs to end their five-game losing streak. The loss pushes the Chukars to 1-3 at home.
It was back-to-back Rockies’ home runs that gave them a five-run lead, and sent Chukars fans home early.
In the top of the ninth, Grand Junction’s Chad Spanberger hit a two-run home run to extend its already 6-4 lead. Then, Ramon Marcelino hit a home run over the center field wall the next pitch. The back-to-back hits doomed Idaho Falls late (4-4).
“They caught a fews balls real good late in the game and the lead before (the Chukars did),” Robby Rinn said. “We’ve done it to them before and they got us back.”
The five home runs were the most the Chukars had surrendered all season. They only let up seven runs in their first seven games this season.
Grand Junction (2-6) began Monday’s game similar to Sunday’s: with a two-run lead.
Ryan Vilade hit a home run to left field to score him and Pedro Gonzalez. Shael Mendoza notched an RBI after a shot to right field scored Javier Guevara in the third.
The Chukars scratched the 3-0 deficit with RBIs from Ricky Aracena, Amalani Fukofuka and Rinn. Rinn’s RBI pushed his total to 15 — a team-high this season.
Fukofuka would break the stalemate in the bottom of the fifth with a RBI-single to left field — scoring Dalton Griffin — and giving Idaho Falls a 4-3 lead.
Grand Junction’s Nic Motley hit a home run to tie it at 4-4. It wasn’t the last one Chukars pitchers Janser Lara and Jeremy Gwinn would see fly over Melaleuca’s back wall, either.
Marcelino added another home run in the top of the eighth to give Grand Junction a 5-4 lead. It was a prelude to what would happen a inning later.
“The ball kind of flies in this league,” pitcher Michael Silva said. “When we played them, we had a bunch of home runs at their place to start of the season. They were just swinging early and they caught a lot of fastballs and it just elevated them.”
Similar to Saturday’s loss to Orem, Idaho Falls made solid contact with the ball Monday — it just couldn’t capitalize on it. The Rockies five home runs were the difference makers.
Players of the game:
Ricky Aracena and Robby Rinn. Two of the Chukars’ most consistent hitters continued to be consistent Monday. Aracena went 2-for-4 at the plate on the night. Rinn went 1-for-4 and an RBI.
Quote of the game:
“The ball kind of flies in this league. When we played them, we had a bunch of home runs at their place to start of the season. They were just swinging early and they caught a lot of fastballs and it just elevated them.” — pitcher Michael Silva
A fan caught a foul ball with a purse during the second inning.
Robby Rinn hit his 15th RBI this season during the third frame — four more than the second-best, Amalani Fukofuka (11).
Rain hit Melaleuca Field during the fourth frame, causing some fans to scatter away from their seats and others to put sweaters above the head. The rain lasted less than a minute.
Idaho Falls (4-4) plays Grand Junction (2-6) Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. It’s the fifth game of a six-game homestand.
Idaho Falls beat Grand Junction 13-4 Sunday at Melaleuca Field.
Chukars infielder Tyler Straub lead the way for Idaho Falls, hitting 3-for-5 at bat and notching three RBIs. He also hit his first career home run during the second inning.
First baseman Robby Rinn and catcher Darrell Miller Jr. also had notable performances Sunday. Rinn went 2-for-5 at the plate and knocked in two runs. Miller went 2-for-4 and had three RBIs. Miller has registered atleast two hits and two RBIs in all three games he’s played for the Chukars.
After surrendering two runs in the top of the first, Idaho Falls scored 11 unanswered runs in seven frames to earn its first home win of the season.
The win pushed the Chukars to 4-3 on the season. All four of their wins have come against the Rockies.