Fitzpatrick powers up for Great Falls

White Sox prospect homers twice, plates four in Game 1 slugfest

Ryan Fitzpatrick batted .246 with six homers and 15 RBIs over 41 games in the regular season. (Tianna Stevens)

By Gerard Gilberto / MiLB.com | September 12, 2018 1:58 AM

It was evident from the onset Tuesday night that the opening match of the Pioneer League Championship Series would be decided by whichever offense could put on a bigger show at Suplizio Field. Rookie-level Great Falls got ahead of Grand Junction, 10-8, after three innings, but it took a late boost from an early contributor to put the game away for the Voyagers.

White Sox first base prospect Ryan Fitzpatrick homered twice on a three-hit night and drove in four runs as the Voyagers outslugged the Rockies, 12-9, in Game 1 of the best-of-3 Finals. It marked the first career multi-homer game for the 23-year-old.

"I'm glad I can help the team win, that's all I'm concerned with," said Fitzpatrick, who also singled and struck out. "Now we're one more win from a championship."


Gameday box score


The 22nd-rounder out of UC Irvine this June batted .246/.389/.444 with six homers, seven doubles and 15 RBIs in 41 regular-season games. In July, Fitzpatrick went 16-for-46 (.348) at the plate, but he matched his RBI output for the whole month Tuesday. He singled twice in six at-bats in the semifinals against Billings.

Great Falls led by seven runs after Fitzpatrick's three-run shot to center field on a 1-1 fastball from Jesse Stinnett in the second inning, but the Grand Junction cut the lead, 10-9, on Hunter Stovall's solo shot in the sixth.

"In Grand Junction the ball flies. I think from the start our whole lineup had a pretty good approach," Fitzpatrick said. "We were hitting balls hard and we were executing well, when we had the [big] lead, we felt pretty good."

The Laguna Hills, California, native was able to respond immediately for the Voyagers, widening the gap with a solo shot to left-center to lead off the seventh.

"Grand Junction is a heck of a team and we knew they were going to battle, so we knew that we had to keep adding on and we did that well," Fitzpatrick said. "Right when I hit [the second homer], I knew it was out. Another fastball."


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Bryce Bush fueled the Voyagers' five-run first with a three-run blast to center, his only hit in four at-bats. Romy Gonzalez and Travis Moniot added three hits apiece. Gonzalez scored twice and drove in a run. Gunnar Troutwine doubled twice, once to drive in the final run in the first, and scored Great Falls' 12th run on a balk by Grand Junction reliever Cayden Hatcher.

Stovall had two RBIs, scored twice and reached base five times after adding on a double, being hit by a pitch and walking twice. Niko Decolati smashed a two-run homer, singled and drew a walk with the bases loaded. Pioneer League MVP Coco Montes and catcher Javier Guevara both had two singles and two RBIs.

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Both teams used six pitchers to get through the contest. Lane Ramsey was credited with the win after allowing a hit and a walk in a scoreless seventh and Nick Johnson recorded the final six outs, three by strikeout, to earn the save. Both sides went the entire game without a 1-2-3 inning.

"It's playoff baseball, so every single pitch is important, and you got to stay focused," Fitzpatrick said. "It's tough, a long game like that, a lot of pitching changes, but when you got a chance to win a championship, you can stay focused a little bit more than usual."

The series shifts to Great Falls for Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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