Grand Junction Comes Up Short in Slugfest Opener in Pioneer League Championship

GRAND JUNCTION — Right fielder Niko Decolati, a Colorado native selected by the Rockies in the sixth round of the draft last June, tried to spark an early comeback for Rookie Grand Junction in the opening game of the Pioneer League championship series, but it fell short.

Great Falls put together back-to-back five run rallies in the first two innings, and held on for a 12-9 victory in the series that now moves to Great Falls for a Game 2 on Thursday with a Game 3, if needed, on Friday.

The Rockies did make a push to overcome an early deficit, and the game ended with Grand Junction having the tying run at the plate.

Rockies starting pitcher Eris Filpo was charged with seven runs, five earned, on seven hits, striking out one, in 1 1/3 innings.

Decolati, whose father Chris played baseball at Northern Colorado, walked and scored the first run of the Rockies three-run first inning, and then ignited a five-run third inning, following a walk to Grant Lavigne with a two-run home run.

Decolati attended high school in Las Vegas and attended Loyola Marymount, but has a large family base still in Colorado, and remembers being in Coors Field as a pre-schooler, and seeing his first big-league game.

The day of the draft he did not hide his glee over going to the Rockies, admitting it came down to the Royals or Rockies.

"Once I get to Denver, it'll be cool to have [my family] be close by and supporting me," Decolati told the day of the draft. "And of course, playing at Coors Field and getting to be part of a Major League organization, the Rockies especially.”

In his professional debut at Grand Junction, he finished tied for fourth in the Pioneer League with 11 home runs and 56 RBI, hitting .327 with 15 doubles in 69 games.

Tracy RingolsbyComment