Grand Junction Rockies Win Pioneer League Championship
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Grand Junction Rockies swept the defending champion Missoula PaddleHeads, winning the first two games of a best of three series to claim the 2022 Pioneer League Championship.
The Rockies essentially took the path of most resistance in the playoffs en route to the 2022 title, defeating the team with the best record in their division, the Ogden Raptors, before defeating the Pioneer League defending champion Missoula PaddleHeads in dominant fashion.
Entering the championship the Rockies faced an uphill climb, not only was Missoula the defending champion but Missoula also had the best record in the 2022 Pioneer League regular season. On top of that, all three games would be played in Missoula.
The Rockies escaped with a 12-10 victory in game 1, putting them on the attack in game 2. They did just that.
In game 2, Missoula actually struck first, after a scoreless top of the first by the Rockies, Missoula got one run on an RBI single that also advanced another runner. Still, Starting Pitcher Jimmy Dobras was able to escape the inning with just the lone run crossing the plate.
The Rockies tied things up in the 3rd with a sacrifice fly by Alex Nielsen putting the ballgame at 1-1.
Missoula hung the next two runs on the board, first via a sac fly of their own in the 3rd, then the first home run of the game, a solo shot, that put the defending PBL champs up 3-1. Any Golden State Warrior or Cleveland Guardian fan that read that number just caught a cold chill.
In the 5th the Rockies put the first crooked number on the scoreboard, a three-run 5th inning where three different Rockies Batters drove in runs.
In the bottom of the 5th Missoula was still showing life, with another solo big fly that kept things close at 4-4, and that would be the end of the starter Dobrash, bringing in reliever Ian Kahaloa, who got out of the inning.
The next two runs to score would both be for the Rockies, Jaylen Hubbard put a ball into right-center in the 6th scoring Casey Petersen. The Rockies would reclaim the lead at 5-4.
A scoreless 7th gave way to the 8th where the Grand Junction Bats struck again, this time it was Tyler Sandoval who put a ball in play that was misfielded and led to Shawn Ross scoring, adding to the Rockies lead at the 6-4.
Only batters wearing purple and black would reach home plate from there on out, as an Alex Nielsen single to right would plate two runners, capping off a three-run 8th inning and putting the Rockies up 8-4.
A two-run ninth punctuated by a Shawn Ross solo homerun to right was the nail in the coffin. The Grand Junction bullpen had more than enough room to work with, not allowing a run and only three hits over four and two-thirds innings.
The Grand Junction Rockies win the game at 10-4 and the series at 2-0. This is the Rockies’ first Pioneer League Championship.
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