Chukars’ notebook: Chukars, Royals looking for speed

Chukars’ Angel Medina rounds third on his way to home after a hit by Nathan Eaton in the third inning as the Chukars take on the Helena Brewers at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | @Loroark@postregister.com
@LukeORoark

In sports, speed wins. Or, it certainly helps win.

Ask Al Davis (I mean, if you can talk to the dead).

Ask Usain Bolt or any sprinter. Ask any dude who’s ever tried to tackle running backs Barry Sanders or Chris Johnson.

Heck, even ask the Kansas City Royals — who, despite being amidst a rebuild, are looking for speed, Chukars field manager Omar Ramirez said.

“That is the Kansas City Royal’s identity. Run, run, run, run, run,” Ramirez said July 4. “I like to run (the bases, put pressure on defenses). That’s the Royals’ identity. And personally, I’m that type of manager.”

The Chukars certainly embody that “speed-first” idea from the Royals’ higher management.

Idaho Falls leads the Pioneer League in stolen bases this summer with 69. The second-most? Grand Junction at …. 52.

With speedster Tyler James — who overwhelmingly leads the league in stolen bases with 26 — and Offerman Collado batting second, the Chukars are trying to put as much speed as possible on the bags. Even Nate Eaton, who bats third, has 10 stolen bases, tied for the fourth-most in the league.

Chukars’ Nick Hutchins heads to third on a ground hit as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

On paper, it’s worked. The Chukars host one of the most prominent offenses in the Pioneer League — scoring the second most runs (295) with a league-leading on-base percentage of .390. Simply put, the Chukars get on base often (they’re first in hits with 452; hit the most doubles and triples; walk the second-most out of any team), steal, and can play relatively smart small ball.

“That is my game: get on base anyway I can whether it’s a walk, hit, error, bunt. And just try to score runs,” James said previously. “Try to get in scoring position for the guys that knock me in.”

While in the big leagues, the correlation with speed and winning has yet to field results for the Royals — at least not yet. The Royals are tied for 12th in stolen bases (49) — Whit Merrifield is tied for fourth with 22 stolen bases — and have nine of the fastest 150 players in the MLB, per the MLB’s Statcast Sprint Speed Leaderboard metrics.

They’re at the bottom of the AL Central with a 32-71 record.

Standings (as of Saturday morning and in order by second half records)

Pioneer League North

Helena Brewers (MIL) 19-21, 2-0

Billings Mustangs (CIN) 16-23, 1-0

Missoula Osprey (ARI) 19-20, 0-1

* Great Falls Voyagers (CWS) 22-18, 0-2

Pioneer League South

Grand Junction Rockies (COL) 22-19, 2-1

Idaho Falls Chukars (KC) 22-18, 1-1

Orem Owlz (LAA) 13-27, 1-1

* Ogden Raptors (LAD) 27-14, 1-2

* – Denotes first-half division winner

Increasing stock

Catcher Chase Vallot.

On rehab assignment, Vallot joined the Chukars in mid-July and brought a heavy bat late in the Chukars’ lineup. After batting an abysmal .101 in Wilmington, he’s now batting .263 for the Chukars including a 3 for 5 night Friday against Orem. He had three RBIs and a home run in the sixth inning. He also hit two doubles.

Decreasing stock

Third baseman Angel Medina.

While batting .246/.281/.361 for the Chukars in 14 games, Medina committed three errors during Friday’s loss (two fielding, one throwing). His nine errors is second-most on the team (shortstop Offerman Collado has 11) but Medina has committed more in a half the amount of games (Medina’s played 14 games; Collado’s played 28).

Recent transactions (from July 21 to July 28)

– None, though Kansas City Royals’ third baseman Mike Moustakas was recently traded from Kansas City to the Milwaukee Brewers for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez. Moustakas played for the Chukars in 2007 and was a pivotal piece for the Royals’ World Series team in 2015.

First half MVPs

Nate Eaton, Reed Rohlman and JC Cloney.

While names like Manny Olloque, Carlos Diaz and Kyle Isbel provided more offensive firepower in a shorter span, and eventually moved up in the Royals’ farming system, Eaton and Rohlman have been the most statistically consistent offensive batters for the Chukars.

Eaton — who’s played a variety of infield positions — has batted .355 and knocked in 24 RBIs (second most), two home runs (tied for third), eight triples (first) and 10 doubles (third) in 124 at-bats. He’s also shown promise fielding, showcasing solid arm strength.

Rohlman, who exclusively plays first base, has batted .348 from mostly the cleanup spot. He leads the team in hits (48), RBIs (38) and home runs (4), displaying solid power and contact at the plate. He’s done it all in 138 at-bats.

Finally, Cloney. The southpaw ace selected out of Arizona in the ninth round of last year’s draft has been the Chukars’ most consistent arm. He’s a perfect 7-0 on the season, allowing 40 hits in 43.1 innings pitched. His 2.28 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 1.06 WHIP are some of the team’s best.

Upcoming

Idaho Falls is on the road until Thursday, playing two games in Ogden and three games in Orem. The Chukars return home Thursday for a crucial four-game homestand with Grand Junction, which may have some Pioneer League playoff implications down the line.

Recap: Chukars-Owlz play late Friday at Melaleuca Field

Chukars’ Reed Rohlman rounds second base in the second inning as the Chukars take on the Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field on Friday, July 27, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark

Friday’s game between the Idaho Falls Chukars and Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field finished past the Post Register’s deadline, with a 12-10 Owlz lead midway through the eighth inning.

A back-and-forth affair throughout, Friday’s game had six different lead changes, including home runs in the top of the sixth by Tim Millard followed by a two-run homer over the left field scoreboard by Chase Vallot to keep fans engaged late.

The Chukars originally held a four-run lead after the second frame, but that lead quickly vanished after the Owlz tied the game at the top of the third with four runs of their own. Idaho Falls took one more lead with an RBI from Hunter Strong in the bottom of the fifth to Orem shortstop Livan Soto.

That lead was short lived, though, as the Owlz took a three-run lead thanks to Millard’s home run over the center field wall — a lowpoint for the Chukars.

But, in good ol’ Pioneer League fashion, the Chukars responded with a home run of their own when Vallot hit a two-run home run over the video board in the left field.

Strong and Offerman Collado had solid nights at the plate. Strong — including his clutch RBI in the bottom of the fifth — went 2 for 4 with two RBIs as of midway through the eighth. Collado made the most of the No. 2 spot, hitting 3 for 5 with two doubles and two RBIs.

While offense was found often, pitching was not.

Up four runs in the top of the third, the Chukars eventually lost their lead due to poor command from starter Connor Mayes. In 2.2 innings pitched, Mayes allowed six runs (five earned) on five walks. He loaded the bases, and eventually allowed five earned runs on five walks.

Joe Ramirez relieved, working a clean 2.1 innings, but Friday’s game remained a deadlock thanks to two teams that combined for 23 hits as of the Post Register’s deadline.

Jaret Hellinger relieved deep into Friday’s game. He allowed six hits, five runs (four earned) while walking one and striking out two.

The Chukars had the chance to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh after Collado hit a solid double to center-right, but Jesus Antencio was called out on the chest-first slide home for the force out.

The Owlz then took a one-run lead following a Nonie Williams’ RBI-double over the glove of Eaton. Williams went 3 for 4 with three RBIs with two RBIs. Kiki Menendez then line drived to left field to score Millard later in the inning to give the Owlz a two-run lead.

Player(s) of the game

Offerman Collado. The Dominican Republican went 3 for 5 with two doubles Friday. He also hit in two RBIs.

Notables

– The Chukars are 10-12 when they commit at least one error. Their first was the top of the first after a fielding error from third baseman Angel Medina.

– The Owlz have been outscored by 114 runs this season — the most in the Pioneer League. They’ve also allowed the most home runs (54).

– Attendance was announced at 3,101, per the organization.

Upnext

The Chukars return to the road for five games (two at Ogden, three at Orem). The Chukars, who are 10-10 on the road this year, return to Melaleuca Field on Thursday.

Osprey pounce on Chukars, 11-1

The Missoula Osprey stymied the Idaho Falls Chukars on Saturday, handing them a 11-1 loss in game one of a four-game series in Missoula.

The Osprey outhit the Chukars 20-4, getting five extra base hits, and led 4-0 through four innings. Missoula stretched the lead to 7-1 after the fifth inning, getting an RBI single from Brandon Leyton, an RBI single from Jesus Munzo and an RBI single by Eddie Hernandez, and added four runs over the next four frames. Julio Gonzalez scored the lone run for the Chukars in the top of the fifth.

Every Missoula batter recorded at least one hit in the win, including five batters who each had three hits.

Chase Vallot went 2 for 2, Offerman Collado went 1 for 5 with an RBI and Nathan Eaton went 1 for 5 with a double for the Chukars. Jonathan Bowlan took the loss on the mound, allowing seven runs (earned) on 12 hits while walking one and striking out two in five innings pitched.

The Chukars (19-16) remain four games back of Pioneer League South Division leader Ogden (23-12), which lost 8-0 Saturday to Helena.

Game two of the four-game series between the Chukars and Osprey is today at 5:05 p.m. in Missoula.

Chukars’ notebook: Q+A with Chukars GM Kevin Greene

By LUKE O’ROARK | Loroark@postregister.com
@LukeORoark

In sports, consistency is a key ingredient to success.

Kevin Greene

The Chukars haven’t always been successful, sure, but every summer you’re going to see a consistent face walking around Melaleuca Field: Chukars general manager Kevin Greene.

The Post Register sat down with the Chukars’ GM earlier this summer to ask about Greene’s background, his management style, why he became involved with the Chukars and what the future holds for the Kansas City Royals’ affiliate. Some components of the interview, questions and answers have been cut for brevity.

Post Register: Kevin, what is the status of (the Idaho Falls Chukars) and, in terms of yourself, where you’re at personally?

Kevin Greene: “You know, this is my 35th year in baseball but I’m only 56. I started as intern back in 1984 for the Rochester Red Wings (minor league affiliate for the Minnesota Twins in Rochester, New York). Sometimes the grind gets to me a little bit. But I think I see myself not getting out of the game anytime in the next 5-to-10 years. I do see myself adjusting my schedule. I spent all morning and most of the early afternoon on a bucket lift 35 feet in the air and people look at me, like, ‘Why do you do that? You’re the general manager.’ Um, I like to do that, but, I won’t be doing that 10 years from now. I might be still working here as a GM but I might be saying, ‘Hey, I need two guys to go up on that lift’ or I might be hiring a company to go upon that lift. I won’t be doing it myself anymore.”

PR: What’s made you stay (with the Chukars) … I know you’re originally from New York.

KG: When I moved out here, I thought I was on a three-year plan to do a little bit of resume building, like a lot of people that come out here, but then you find out: not only is it a really good town to raise your family in — and you like all the atmosphere of the Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, rivers, mountains, all that — but you also find out, you know, if you find somebody that you connect with that you work for. Having that special relationship with your boss. That’s made this a special job for me. My boss, Dave Elmore, who’s owned this team since 1986, he comes out a few times a year. He lets us do our thing. I send him the reports and as long everything is to his satisfaction, he lets us run the team. And that is so important. When I worked in Rochester, we were micromanaged in Rochester. And it was tough, it was very tough. … Here, having one boss, who knows the business and knows how to manage, he allows us to take the reins and run with it.

PR: I’ve seen inside the office and I certainly understand, what it seems like, that “laissez-faire” kind of approach.

KG: It is. I’m not going to ask someone to go out and clean a bathroom right now if I’m not willing to do it myself. I went out and raked the warning track for a couple of hours. It’s what we do.

PR: Where does that management style stem from? Where does it come from?

KG: When I worked in Rochester, even though we had board oversight, when they were letting us do our thing, the staff all worked like the way we do here. I felt like we all worked on the same level and it was communicative and we all had each other’s back. And if an intern asks me, ‘Hey, Kevin, can you help me with his,’ I don’t say, ‘I’m the GM, you’re the intern’ and I don’t help him. It doesn’t work that way. We all work together, and that’s what I’ve always tried to preach and I’ve always said: I’ve worked with people that have been difficult, and I hope I never get that way.

PR: So, when did that management style start?

KG: When I moved out here in ‘93. Maybe I was a little staunched, thinking that’s how you were supposed to be, but I loosened up. We had a really small staff, and we all got along great. So, that’s what I like. I like a small staff where we can all trust each other to get their job done and if there’s an issue, we can work it out together.

PR: Because it seems like most, some businesses use that management model where it’s a “top-down”. I’m guessing you don’t believe in that (model)?

KG: You know, as long as we get our work done, it doesn’t matter (what it looks like). I’m dressed a slob right now, I’ll admit that. But I’m not going to come in here with a suit on and just point at banners and say, ‘Hey, get those hanged. I expect them to be done in 40 minutes.’ How are the people who work for me going to respect me, or want to work for me, for very long? I think that’s part of the reason I’m able to keep quality people here — people, maybe, trying to climb through minor league baseball. Quality people have stayed longer than they should have and I think it’s because they really like the atmosphere.

PR: It seems like year in and year out there’s some change, but you’ve stayed.

KG: Yeah, I’m the one constant, I guess. I think Paul Henderson is a constant. He’s from Idaho Falls and I hope when I step down I can turn the reins over to him and let him have a nice, long run at it.

PR: Any goals left for you? You mentioned 30-plus years in the business…anything that still drives you?

KG: You know, I would love to win more rings. Love to win more championships. Those are the highlights of what we do here. Some of the most memorable things in baseball are going to playoff games and rushing the field and knowing you get to start designing a ring the next week. That’s always a lot of fun. I like the camaraderie. One day I was in the winter meetings, it was after dinner and I was at a sports bar, with a lot of baseball people, and I looked around and said, ‘My gosh, I know more people here than I don’t know.’ At that point, I felt like I was a part of it.

PR: It was interesting, you mentioned earlier the feeling of winning and the playoff atmosphere, but I feel like that juxtaposes, at times, with the attitude of the club/minors. You know, ‘these kids are learning’, ‘winning may not be everything’. Any thoughts on that juxtaposition? You obviously want a viable, winning organization, but there’s also that attitude of ‘Hey, these kids are learning.’

KG: It is. This is player development. Every player out here with the ultimate goal of helping the Kansas City Royals make it back to the World Series and win one, that’s what the goal is. Along the way, it would be great if the Royals won at the Idaho Falls level, they win at the Lexington level, they win at Omaha. That’s great. It helps these kids know how to win, winning baseball players, as they are being prepared for the major leagues. We’re just fortunate as a small town with the opportunity to watch future major leaguers perform at this level in this little ballpark. I think it’s special for a town this size.

Standings (through Friday’s games)

Pioneer League North

Great Falls Voyagers (CWS) 21-13

Missoula Osprey (ARI) 17-17

Helena Brewers (MIL) 16-18

Billings Mustangs (CIN) 13-21

Pioneer League South

Ogden Raptors (LAD) 23-11

Idaho Falls Chukars (KC) 19-15

Grand Junction Rockies (COL) 17-17

Orem Owlz (LAA) 10-24

Increasing stock

Reed Rohlman.

The Chukars’ first baseman has batted 11 for 21 during the previous five games including an impressive 4 for 5 day at the plate against Missoula. He’s batting .357 with an OPS of 1.017.

Decreasing stock

Jonathan Bowlan.

Bowlan — the Royals’ second round pick this previous draft — holds a 1-1 record with a 4.71 ERA. He’s struck out 13 in 21 innings pitched, and gave up seven earned runs in a 12-0 loss to Missoula on July 14.

Recent transactions (from July 5 to July 21)

– Outfielder Kyle Isbel was promoted to the Lexington Legends on July 19.

– Outfielder Hunter Strong was assigned to the Chukars from the Burlington Royals on July 17.

– Right-handed pitcher Christopher Marte was released on July 13.

– Wilmington Blue Rocks sent catcher Chase Vallot on a rehab assignment to Idaho Falls on July 10.

– Third baseman Angel Medina was assigned to the Chukars from Burlington on July 7.

Upcoming

Idaho Falls finishes its seven-game road trip Tuesday at Missoula before starting a three-game home series against Orem Wednesday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is 7:15 p.m.

Chukars trounce Brewers 18-5

A day after erasing a six-run deficit en route to an eventual win, the Idaho Falls Chukars blew the doors open with a 10-run sixth inning in an 18-5 win over the Helena Brewers in Helena.

The Chukars, who led 6-0 through two innings, outhit the Brewers 20-11 and had nine extra base hits.

Idaho Falls wasted no time, jumping out to a 6-2 lead after three innings thanks to an RBI double by Reed Rohlman, a two RBI double by Chase Vallot, an Offerman Collado two-run home run and a Rohlman RBI single. Vallot hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to extend the advantage to 7-3.

Idaho Falls burst through in a marathon sixth inning, turning five hits, three hit batters, three walks, two errors and a wild pitch into 10 runs. The Brewers made two pitching substitutions during the inning.

The Brewers were held off the scoreboard from the fifth to seventh innings before scoring twice in the eighth inning. Helena recorded two hits and left two on base in the bottom of the ninth.

Vallot had a massive game for Idaho Falls, going 4 for 6 with a home run, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. Collado went 3 for 4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored, Hunter Strong went 3 for 5 with a double and Nathan Eaton went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Connor Mayes took the win on the mound, allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits while walking three and striking out five in five innings pitched.

Idaho Falls (19-15) is four games back of Pioneer League South Division leader Ogden (23-11), which defeated Missoula 9-5 on Friday.

The Chukars continue their Montana road trip by beginning a four-game series tonight at Missoula. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Ninth inning gives Chukars 12-7 win at Helena

After tying the game twice, the Idaho Falls Chukars burst through for six runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 12-7 win over the Helena Brewers on Thursday in Helena.

The Chukars (18-15) capitalized on two errors, a wild pitch and six hits, including an RBI single by Tyler James, an RBI single by Nathan Eaton, an RBI single by Reed Rohlman and an RBI single by Andres Martin, in the inning.

No lead was safe for Helena in Thursday’s contest. The Brewers struck first, taking a 4-0 lead after the first inning thanks to an RBI double by David Fry, an RBI single by Nick Egnatuk, an RBI triple by Leugim Castillo and an RBI single by Pablo Abreu in consecutive at-bats. The Brewers added two more runs in the second inning off a two-RBI single by Fry.

A two-run home run by Chase Vallot put Idaho Falls on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. The Chukars tied the game 6-6 with a four-run fifth inning thanks to a run by Martin and a three-run double by Rohlman.

Helena broke up the 6-6 tie when Jean Carmona scored off a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The Chukars tied the game two at bats into the top of the ninth before beginning their scoring frenzy.

Vallot went 1 for 5 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored, Rohlman went 2 for 5 with a double, four RBIs and a run scored, Eaton went 3 for 4 with an RBI and three runs scored and Jesus Atencio went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Jaret Hellinger took the win, allowing one run (earned) on two hits while walking one and striking out three in two innings pitched for Idaho Falls.

The Chukars remained four games back of Pioneer League South Division Ogden with Thursday’s win. At 10:20 p.m., Ogden (22-10) was leading Missoula 8-4 in the top of the ninth.

The final game of the three-game series between the Chukars and Brewers is tonight in Helena. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Middle innings cost Chukars in 9-2 loss to Helena

The Helena Brewers defeated the Idaho Falls Chukars, 9-2, Wednesday at Kindrick Legion field after scoring all their runs in two innings.

After being held scoreless in the first three innings, Helena came alive in the middle frames, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth and five the next frame.

The Chukars did fight back in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs thanks to an RBI double from Nate Eaton to score Kyle Kasser and an RBI single from Reed Rohlman to drive in Eaton. The Chukars then surrendered five runs in the home half of the frame, however.

Eaton finished 2 for 4 at the plate with a double and a triple. Catcher Chase Vallot also went 2 for 4 with a double for the Chukars, who knocked in nine runs. The Brewers had 12.

CJ Eldred (3-2) took the loss on the mound, allowing nine earned runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out two in 4.2 innings pitched.

The Chukars (17-14) remain in second place in the Pioneer League South Division standings and were four games back of leader Ogden as of 10:10 p.m. Wednesday, when Ogden was leading Missoula 9-5 in the bottom of the eighth.

Idaho Falls returns to Helena tonight for game two of a three-game series. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

Chukars shut out Osprey to end homestand

The Idaho Falls Chukars ended their three-game series with the Missoula Osprey with a shutout win Monday at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars blanked the Osprey 9-0, outhitting Missoula 18-4 in a game that featured no errors between the teams. The win moves Idaho Falls to 16-14, four games back of Pioneer League South Division leader Ogden (20-10).

Idaho Falls led 2-0 through five innings before piling on six runs in the bottom of the sixth: an RBI single by Andres Martin, a three-run double by Offerman Collado and a two-run home run by Kyle Isbel. It was the first of two home runs and three extra base hits Monday evening for Isbel, who ended the night 4 for 5 and three runs scored.

Reed Rohlman went 4 for 5 with a run scored, Angel Medina went 3 for 4 with a run scored and Collado went 2 for 2 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

J.C. Cloney got the win for Idaho Falls to move his record to 6-0 on the season, allowing no runs on four hits while walking one and striking out two in six innings pitched.

The Chukars are off tonight before beginning a seven-game road trip to Montana. They play the first game of a three-game series at Helena on Wednesday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

SUNDAY’S GAME

Missoula defeated Idaho Falls for the second time in as many nights, defeating the Chukars 3-1 on Sunday.

The game was tied 1-1 through eight innings before the Osprey scored two runs in the top of the ninth: an RBI double by Zack Shannon and a sacrifice fly by Alex King that scored Zachery Almond.

Reed Rohlman went 2 for 4 with a RBI to lead the Chukars.

Chukars shut out for the second time this season

The Missoula Osprey began their three-game series with the Idaho Falls Chukars by handing them their second shutout loss of the season.

Missoula pitchers Marcos Tineo and Jacob Stevens combined to throw a two-hitter as the Osprey dealt the Chukars a 12-2 loss Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The first meeting between the teams this season,  Tineo threw 38 pitches for strikes (out of 55) and Stevens threw 22 for strikes (out of 40).

The loss puts Idaho Falls (16-12) two games back of Pioneer League South Division leading Ogden (18-10) as of 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Ogden was leading Helena 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning in Ogden at that time.

The Osprey outhit the Chukars 18-2, building a 7-0 lead through five innings. Missoula broke open the game with a five-run second inning: an RBI double by David Sanchez, a two-RBI single by Jesus Marriaga and a two-run home run by Cesar Garcia. Two other Osprey got extra base hits Saturday.

Outfielders Tyler James (1 for 4 with a double) and Jose Caraballo (1 for 3 with a double) were the lone Chukars to record hits. Jonathan Bowlan took the loss on the mound, allowing seven runs (all earned) on 10 hits while walking none and striking out two in five innings pitched.

Game two of the three-game series is this afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Melaleuca Field.

Chukars, Brewers end series with tight battle

Chukars’ catcher Chase Vallot spins to tag Helena’s David Fry during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. The throw from the outfield was a little too late and Fry scored on the play. Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com

By PAUL LAMBERT
prsports@postregister.com

The luck was with the road team on Friday the 13th at Melaleuca Field as the Helena Brewers took an early lead into the late innings.

At Post Register deadline, the Helena Brewers were leading the Idaho Falls Chukars 8-7 in the top of the ninth inning.

Despite committing four errors and giving up 13 hits to Idaho Falls through eight innings, Helena was in position to get out of town with the victory thanks to 16 hits and a four-run fourth.

A Helena win would earn the Brewers a split in the four-game series, wrapping up the set in front of 2,798 fans Friday.

Chukars’ pitcher Conner Mayes releases a pitch during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com

The Chukars got on the board in the third inning putting together a two-out, two-run rally, flipping a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. Idaho Falls got RBIs from Jose Caraballo and Brady Cox in the inning.

The Brewers stacked back-to-back-to-back singles to open the fourth, starting an inning that proved particularly unlucky for the Chukars and starting pitcher Connor Mayes.

By the time it was over, Helena had four runs on four hits and a 5-2 lead.

Andres Martin got one back to open the bottom of the fourth, popping a solo shot over the left field wall. The homer was the first in Martin’s four-year professional career, a drought spanning 545 plate appearances.

Kyle Isbell brought the crowd to its feet three batters later, lacing a triple deep into the right field corner with two outs, then scoring on the play on a Helena throwing error.

Helena got to Mayes for two more in the fifth, chasing the hard-throwing righty after scoring seven on 12 hits.

Helena slugger Chad McClanahan opened the scoring in the first, driving a towering sky shot to right, to take the Pioneer League lead with six home runs.

Idaho Falls (16-11) will keep the home fires burning tonight, hosting Missoula in the first of a three-game series against the Osprey.

The Chukars will also host Missoula on Sunday and Monday before hitting the road for a seven-game set in Montana.