Maybe four games was all it took for the Pioneer League baseball wackiness to regress to the mean.
The Ogden Raptors’ score line on the scoreboard was filled with zeroes, the result of a well-rounded pitching performance by the Grand Junction Rockies, who handed Ogden a 9-0 loss to end the Raptors’ brief unbeaten start to 2019.
Ogden starting pitcher Alfredo Tavarez pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out five batters, allowing one earned run that was scored after he left.
As soon as he left, the Rockies scored two runs on a hard ground ball that ricocheted off third baseman Moises Perez’s glove and a wild pitch in the fifth inning.
Then Max George hit an opposite-field homer to right field to make it 5-0 a day after hitting a two-run line drive homer to right-center field.
GJ’s Jacob Barnwell lobbed a fly ball into right field and Ogden right-fielder Ryan Ward lost track of the ball in the atmosphere. The ball landed on the field and not in anybody’s glove. Two more runs scored to make it 7-0.
By that time, the Raptors had managed just one hit through four innings. They finished the game with six.
George launched an inside pitch high in the dark, drizzling sky to left field for the final 9-0 scoreline.
Rockies’ center-fielder Brenton Doyle singlehandedly took away two surefire extra-base hits with fantastic catches in the left-center field corner.
The first was a sliding catch in front of the wall in the first inning to deny Josh McClain a hit. McClain made a fantastic diving catch for the third out in the eighth inning in center field to take a base hit away from — who else? — Doyle.
The second was a diving catch to deny Ramon Rodriguez an extra-base hit. Four 2019 MLB Draft picks joined the Raptors’ squad before Monday’s game.
They are 8th-round pick Ryan Ward, an outfielder from Bryant University, 10th-round pick Zac Ching, an infielder from Virginia Commonwealth University, 15th-round pick Joe Vranesh, an outfielder from St. Mary’s College, and 22nd-round pick Jimmy Titus, an infielder also from Bryant.
The debut was anything but sparkling. Ching went 0 for 3 at the plate, Ward hit 0 for 2 and both were substituted in the later innings. Vranesh batted 1 for 2 with a walk.
In a corresponding move to make room for the draft picks, Sunday’s walk-off hero Rolando Lebron was sent down to the Arizona League, but it was predetermined before he put his stamp on Sunday’s 7-6 win.
Lebron hit a two-run, go-ahead triple with two outs against GJ before hitting a walk-off solo homer in the ninth inning.