Chukars’ notebook: Olloque, fast start for Chukars

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

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

You better get to Melalueca Field quick: some of the Chukars’ best are moving up rather quickly.

After Manny Olloque blasted two home runs against Ogden, he was recently bumped up to Lexington.

At Chukars media day earlier in the month, he mentioned the difficulty of moving up and down and around the country for minor league ball.

“You definitely have to have to have faith that’s for sure,” Olloque said on June 13. “You just gotta trust the process and can’t look to far ahead of that. Just play everyday and try not to worry too much about the other little things. … I got caught up with it this year, you know, but I’ve been staying strong with it and just having fun.”

Despite playing in triple-A Omaha for nine games earlier in the year, Olloque came back down to the rookie-A level, bring some experience and early season offense to Melaleuca Field. Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said Olloque wasn’t going to be held up in triple-A for too long — he was called up as an emergency call, per Ramirez — but it was clear from Chukars’ opening day that Olloque wouldn’t be in Idaho Falls for too long either.

He batted .474 in 19 at-bats, knocking in nine RBIs, two home runs, a triple and two doubles. One of his two home runs was a grand slam.

Chukars’ J.C. Cloney pitches in the third inning as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

“I’ve learned to humble myself,” Olloque said. “I know this game isn’t going to last forever, and I know there’s more to (life) than baseball. Just having a closer relationship with God lets me stuff in different perspective. Just try to be not too high, not too low, just even keel.”

“Manny is a good hitter,” said Ramirez after the Chukars’ opening day win. “Manny has always been a good hitter and he’s going to be a good help for the team.”

Even with Olloque gone, though, the Chukars still have a plethora of solid contact hitters. They’re batting .332 through eight games — the highest in the Pioneer League — as of June 23.

Kansas City Royals’ third-round pick Kyle Isbel has been sharp his first few games with the rookie-A affiliate. He’s batting .500. Offerman Collado, Julio Gonzalez, Nick Hutchins and Andres Martin should be steady hands at the plate this summer.

Collado and Gonzalez, in their second stints in Idaho Falls, are batting .368 and .364, respectively. Hutchins has batted .321 in a team-high 28 at-bats. He is tied for first in doubles (3) alongside Isbel and first baseman Reed Rohlman.

While only suiting up for three games thus far, Martin’s small sample size is promising. He’s gone 5 for 11 and knocked in two RBIs. He’s truck out once and walked once.

In terms of pitching, the Chukars’ have vastly improved from a year ago. A year ago, the Chukars were one of the worst — if not, the worst — pitching club in the Pioneer League. Now, they’re among the top.

Of course, minor league teams change rapidly and it’s early in the season, but the Chukars currently rank one of the better rotations and bullpens in the league.

The team’s ERA is 4.43 (second-best in the Pioneer) with their WHIP at 1.35 (tied for second best).

JC Cloney (2-0) is molding into a reliable ace, giving up just 10 hits and three earned runs in 13 innings pitched. He’s struck out 16 and has a WHIP of 0.77. Domingo Pena (1-0) looked sharp in his one appearance thus far. He holds a 1.80 ERA with a 0.80 WHIP.

Again, it’s early. But the Chukars have solid pieces to be excited about if you follow the Royals’ farming system.

“I think it will be a strong group of pitchers and I think that they’re going to be learning just like everybody else will be learning,” Chukars’ pitching coach Jeff Suppan said prior to the season starting.

Standings

Pioneer League North

Helena Brewers (MIL) 4-2

Missoula Osprey (ARI) 3-2

Great Falls Voyagers (CWS) 3-4

Billings Mustangs (CIN) 2-4

Pioneer League South

Idaho Falls Chukars (KC) 6-2

Grand Junction Rockies (COL) 4-4

Ogden Raptors (LAD) 3-5

Orem Owlz (LAA) 3-5

Increasing stock

Kyle Isbel. Since joining the Chukars on June 18, Isbel has proved to be a reliable at-bat for Idaho Falls. In the past five games, the third-round pick has batted 10 for 20 (.500) with seven RBIs, three doubles and seven runs. He’s struck oout twice.

Decreasing stock

Jose Caraballo. Since June 15, Caraballo went 6 for 27 (.222) at the plate including a four-game stretch where the 21-year-old went 0 for 14. His slump could be ending shortly, though, as he’s registered back-t0-back two-hit games at Grand Junction.

Recent transactions (from June 18 to June 23)

– Right-handed pitcher Joe Ramirez assigned to Idaho Falls from DSL Royals2.

– Left-handed pitcher Marcelo Martinez assigned to Idaho Falls from DSL Royals2.

– Catcher Jesus Atencio assigned to Idaho Falls from Burlington Royals.

– Catcher Nathan Easton assigned to Idaho Falls.

– Right-handed pitcher Dillon Drabble assigned to Idaho Falls from Burlington Royals.

– Shortstop Kyle Krasser assigned to Idaho Falls.

– Right-handed pitcher Jon Heasley assigned to Idaho Fals.

– Right-handed pitcher Tyler Gray assigned to Idaho Falls

– Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Bowlan assistned to Idaho Falls Chukars.

– Centerfielder Isaiah Smith assigned to Idaho Falls from AZL Royals.

Upcoming

The Chukars play at Orem until Monday before hosting Grand Junction for a four-game homestand starting Tuesday. First pitch is 7:15 p.m. at Melaleuca Field.

Chukars down Raptors in season-opening pitching duel

Chukars’ Offerman Collado fileds a grounder to throw out Raptors’ Jair Camargo as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

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

Gloomy weather hung over Melaleuca Field to start the Idaho Falls Chukars’ season opener. The night ended with fireworks and a win, though.

The Chukars defeated the Raptors 4-2 Friday to start the season 1-0 for the third consecutive season.

JC Cloney got the win on the mound, striking out 11 and surrendering two earned runs on four hits in seven innings pitched. After a shaky, 2-run first inning, Cloney quickly settled his command, working Friday’s strike zone with breaking balls before Robert Garcia closed the game out with a save.

At one point, Cloney retired 12-straight during the middle innings.

“That was good to see a well-pitched game in this league,” Chukars Omar Ramirez said. “That doesn’t happen very often. It’s a nice to see a game well pitched.”

Down 2-0 to start their freshly new campaign, the Chukars responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. Cleanup hitter Nick Hutchins hit in the first run of the 2018 Chukars’ season, popping an RBI single into the right field gaps to score Freddy Fermin.

After Reed Rohlman scored Manny Olloque later in the bottom of the third, Friday’s game quickly became a classic pitchers’ duel.

That was, of course, until Olloque hit in Fermin with a line drive to left field in the seventh.

Chukars’ Jose Caraballo and Jose Marquez round the bases as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

“I was just looking for a pitch to drive to score the run and I’m glad we won,” Olloque said. “That’s all that matters.”

Up 3-2, Jose Marquez added an insurance in the bottom of the eighth, eventually setting up Garcia to close the door on the 2017 Pioneer League champions.

He did — as the Chukars’ season began with patriotic fireworks and the cliched Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing”.

“Everybody pitched good, hit good, good defense,” Olloque said. “Overall, good win.”

Player (s) of the Game

JC Cloney and Manny Olloque.

Cloney’s command was impressive Friday night. After surrendering two runs in the top of the first inning, Cloney settled in and attacked the zone. He struck 11 out in seven innings.

Olloque finished 2 for 4 at the plate, driving home a run in the bottom of the seventh. He had one run and one RBI.

Quotable

“I go day-by-day. Like I said, we played a good game, we played good defense, very good defense we played. I always say if we have two of these three things: pitching, defense and timely hitting, situational hitting. If you have two of those, you’re in good shape every time you take the field. … We had all three of them. It won’t happen every night, but it’s nice to see the first game of the season.” — Chukars manager Omar Ramirez

Notes

– The Chukars have won three-straight season openers. They’re last season-opening loss was June 18, 2015 (16-10 to Grand Junction).

– Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler performed a solo home run derby before Friday’s game. Butler, a 2012 Silver Slugger with the Kansas City Royals, played for the Chukars in 2004.

– Attendance was announced at 3,132, per the Chukars’ organization.

Upnext

The Chukars host the Ogden Raptors Saturday at Melaleuca Field for game two of a four-game home stand. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Ramirez returns to Idaho Falls for second stint

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez talks to players during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

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

Idaho Falls Chukars’ field manager Omar Ramirez is back in the 208.

But now in his second stint with the burgundy and silver, the 47-year-old has evolved. Grown and matured — as a manager.

“More experienced. More experience as a manager,” Ramirez said of his transition back to Idaho Falls during the Wednesday’s media day at Melaleuca Field. “In 2012, it was my first time being a manager … Just knowing the game more. About movement and pitching change and all that. Players teach you so much, about everything.”

Ramirez returns to the Chukars after spending time with the Royals’ other rookie and low-A affiliates during the previous three summers. After a quick hiatus to manage in Burlington and Lexington, respectively, Ramirez returns with not only more knowledge, but an outgoing personality that fits with Chukars baseball.

“One of the great attributes of a guy like Omar, especially at the lower levels in the minor leagues where the Latin players haven’t acclimated, or haven’t learned English yet, perhaps, Omar has the ability to speak and communicate equally well with the American and English and Spanish speaking players,” Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said. “And I think that’s a great attribute for anyone to ever have, especially to be successful at this level.”

Being a player, or manager, in the ever-so-fluid minor league system can be difficult. It’s no secret.

There can be some long hours, pitching coach Jeff Suppan and hitting coach Damon Hollins said. You spend time away from family, friends. You’re in Idaho one week and then next thing you know: poof, you’re in Kentucky.

By late August, the two-month grind of the minor leagues can grind even the most hardened.

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez talks to players about fielding during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

“You’re always coaching, and it’s like as a player, once the games over, you shower and then you go home. a coach has more work to do,” Suppan said. “As a player, you come to the ball park and your work starts, but as a coach, you’re doing work well before the players are there. So, the best job in baseball is player, you know. Coaching has a lot of enjoyable things, but it’s a lot of work.”

And if someone knows this, it’s Ramirez — who got to the AAA level and played in the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros farming system at one point in his career. He’s no stranger to not settling in one place for too long: he’s bounced around from Cleveland to Mexico to independent leagues, he said.

But within that minor league grind, there’s a chance to make an impact on a pro-baller’s career. That’s what drew Ramirez back to Idaho Falls, and coaching, after retiring due to lingering injuries, spending time in Mexico and building a family.

He said he loves teaching.

“It’s my life. It’s what I enjoy doing,” Ramirez said. “I love it. They always ask me, ‘Do you want to become a big league manager?’ And if the opportunity is there, that’s fine, but I like the minor leagues. The players listen to you. In the big leagues, they don’t listen to you. I like this. I can tell, ‘Hey, you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing this wrong.’ In the big leagues, it’s different.

“I enjoy my job,” Ramirez added.

The Chukars play the Idaho Falls Bandits, an American Legion double-A team today at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls official season begins Friday at Melaleuca Field against Ogden.

Same time as always: 7:15 p.m.

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez works with players during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Chukars announce 2018 coaching staff

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
A familiar face will be back with the Idaho Falls Chukars this summer.

The Chukars, an advanced rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, announced Omar Ramirez will manage the team in 2018, returning to Idaho Falls after spending three season with Burlington and Lexington.

Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on June 14 at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field.(Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Ramirez takes over for now former Chukars manager Justin Gemoll, who will join Grand Canyon Baseball as a volunteer assistant coach for the Lopes’ 2018 season.

Ramirez previously managed the Chukars from 2012 to 2014 and was a part of the Chukars’ 2013 Pioneer League championship team.

“We welcome back Omar Ramirez, the manager who brought us our last championship in 2013,” Chukars’ President and general manager Kevin Greene said in a press release. “He along with a great supporting coaching staff of Jeff and Damon should make for a fun season of baseball in Idaho Falls.”

Joining Ramirez in 2018 will be pitching coach Jeff Suppan and hitting coach Damon Hollins, both who were a part of the Cuhkars’ 2017 staff. Suppan returns for his fourth year in Idaho Falls and brings 17 years of Major league experience.

For Hollins, he returns for his eighth season within the Kansas City Royals organization, the press release states. Hollins will also serve as an assistant outfield, base running and bunting coordinator.

Justin Kemp will also return to the Chukars as the team’s head athletic trainer in 2018. It will be his third season with the Chukars.

Idaho Falls’ opening day is set for June 15. The Chukars will host the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field, as first pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m.

Ogden claws I.F., 13-8, at Melaleuca Field

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
You might want to check your car for dents if you were at Melaleuca Field Wednesday night.

The Raptors blasted two home runs and took advantage of three oppositional fielding errors, to beat the Chukars 13-8 at Melaleuca Field in front of 1,579 fans.

Ogden tallied 15 hits against Idaho Falls’ three pitchers, Dillon Drabble, Garrettson Harris and Andrew Beckwith, to hand the Chukars’ their fourth loss in five games.

(FILE) Chukars’ Cristhian Vasquez catches a pop fly during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

Idaho Falls has allowed 58 runs during that span.

With the win, Ogden keeps its playoff hopes alive at 36-22 (14-7 second half). Idaho Falls’ chances continue to dip, falling to 26-33 (9-12).

The Raptors are 5-3 when playing the Chukars this season.

Despite Ogden’s hot offense at Melaleuca Field, the Chukars did respond with runs of their own Wednesday, peaking when first baseman Robby Rinn slugged a two-run home run to revitalize the Chukars in the bottom of the eighth.

Rinn finished the night 2 for 3 at the plate.

But the Chukars — the worst pitching, and most undisciplined, team in the Pioneer League — fell in similar fashion. They simply couldn’t prevent the Raptors from circling the bases throughout Wednesday’s three-hour bout.

After Drabble surrendered two home runs during the first two frames, the Chukars got onto the board thanks to Cristhian Vasquez and Matt Morales RBIs.

Freddy Fermin and Darrell Miller Jr. then squeezed the Raptors’ four-run lead after Fermin hit in a run and Miller walked home, respectively, to cut Ogden’s lead to two.

But a sloppy fifth innings, which included a throwing error from Morales that allowed an extra base runner, helped the Raptors to score four runs.

The Raptors’ damage continued in the top of the ninth frame when the Raptors scored three runs off Harris. Harris finished the night with five hits, three earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched for a 9.00 ERA. He struck out three batters. Drabble (1-3) took the loss after allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and two home runs.

Idaho Falls’ offense failed to respond as Fermin, Vasquez and Gonzalez all struck out in the top of the ninth.

To start the night, Ogden took an early 3-0 lead after a 424-foot, three-run homer by Mitchell Hansen flew over the right wall during the first inning. It was Hansen’s ninth home run of 2017.

Connor Heady continued the damage, hitting a three-run home run to extend Ogden’s lead to 6-0. It was also over the right wall.

What’s important:

Two early home runs set the tone, as the Chukars’ offense couldn’t carry their weak pitching and three fielding errors.

Player (s) of the game:

Robby Rinn. Rinn finished 2 for 3 at the plate with a two-run home run during the top of the eighth. He was also walked twice.

Notables:

– Attendance was announced as 1,578 Wednesday night.

Upnext:

Idaho Falls will return to Melaleuca Field for game two against Ogden. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Chukars notebook: A melting pot of different cultural backgrounds, Latin players attempt to integrate with Chukars

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
Chukars’ employee Andrew Scarlata said two Latino Chukars players, instead of driving, once pegged his bike to go to the local grocery store a couple miles down the road.

Another time, one player wanted to order Domino’s Pizza 30 minutes before a game’s first pitch.

Scarlata’s quick tales aren’t malicious — rather, examples of cultural barriers some players may face when being drafted from overseas into the MLB’s farming system.

Chukars’ Julio Gonzalez and Chukars’ Freddy Fermin have a meeting at the mound with pitcher Chukars’ Janser Lara, center, during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

“I’ve realized that these guys will probably need some sort of help or information or support when they come to the U.S., a completely different culture,” said Scarlata, who was in the Dominican Republic last summer and worked with a few Chukars players like Freddy Fermin. “Some guys handle it differently than others. A lot of times with the Latin players … having money is a total 180 for them. Language-wise, it’s all about commitment.”

The Chukars — a rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals — have seven Spanish-speaking players on their roster this season.

Scarlata, who was hired by Chukars’ general manager Kevin Greene because of his close relationship with the seven players, said they receive English classes in their hotel have gone on a fishing trips and even visited Tautphaus Park to help become acclimated to Idaho Falls — an overwhelmingly white, English speaking area of the United States.

The percentage of Hispanic or Latino population in Idaho Falls is 12.8 percent of the total general populous, according to city-data.com.

“The Royals do a really good job. They have classes for the Latin players, and we communicate a lot,” Jake Wakamatsu said. “I think it’s a good thing for all of us to get together and just learn about each other’s cultures and about each other.”

The Spanish-speaking players, like Fermin and Cristhian Vasquez, have used the developmental league to not only hone their craft, but to understand American culture, societal norms and the English language.

Fermin, in a translated interview with Scarlata, said it can be an adjustment for them, though.

“It is hard,” Fermin said. “It is difficult with the language barrier, but I’m learning new words every day by talking with the coaches and learning inside the clubhouse every day.”

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, a study by Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt found that 27.4 percent of MLB players identified as Latino.

The MLB and MiLB has slowly, but surely, become more inclusive over the years to accommodate other players’ backgrounds.

For an example, the MLB mandated that all teams provide interpreters for players with limited or no English proficiency in 2016, according to NPR.

“I know if I were playing or managing in Latin America today and had to speak Spanish, I would want a translator, just because the nuances of everything you say can be misunderstood or taken out of context,” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia told USA Today in 2016.

Chukars’ Cristhian Vasquez runs to third base during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

Chukars’ pitching coach Jeff Suppan and designated hitter Darrell Miller, Jr. said they recognized the language (and cultural) barrier that happens since the Chukars are a melting pot of players from the likes of Georgia, California, Venezuela, Arizona and the Dominican Republic.

“Every year, almost half the team is Latin,” right fielder Amalani Fukofuka said during the preseason. “So, it’s good to try and get to know them a little more and learn a little Spanish to communicate. You can mess with them sometimes, and they’re usually cool to talk to.”

Suppan pitched 17 years in the majors, communicating with players of multiple Latin backgrounds. He said the cultural and language barrier “is just baseball.”

“Hopefully, you just mesh as a team,” Suppan said. “So, I might come in with a California accent, somebody else comes in with a Georgia accent, a Philly accent, somebody is a Spanish speaker and you kinda blend and have your own language together.”

Suppan added that “team language” is a universal component to sports.

Miller, who occasionally has to communicate with Spanish-speaking pitchers during games, agreed.

“I know it can be a challenge in clubhouses, but being a member of the Royals, and knowing what they’re about, we mesh really well — whether or not we can understand each other sometimes,” Miller said. “Baseball has a universal language, and I do know a little bit of Spanish, and these guys work their tails off … It might be broken in our communication but again, you know what they’re trying to say. They know what you’re trying to say.”

The term “universal language” as Miller and Suppan described comes with just playing the sport.

No matter if a player is from South America or North Dakota, the objective is still to score as many runs as possible before three outs.

Chukars’ Julio Gonzalez runs to first base during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

Win or lose, Scarlata said he takes responsibility for the Latin players in Idaho Falls, though. He has tried to be empathetic to people of different backgrounds attempting to merge into the United States.

“They’re really like kids, when you think about it,” Scarlata said. “You go into a place, you don’t know the language very well, and you’re here to play baseball and all you know is that there’s a town around you. They’ve really impressed me coming here.”

Chukars rout Mustangs, 17-2, behind Gonzalez’s six RBIs

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
The Chukars kept hitting in between the gaps and the Mustangs just couldn’t respond.

No matter how you slice it, Thursday night belonged to Idaho Falls’ trifecta of hitters: Julio Gonzalez, Logan Gray and designated hitter, Darrell Miller Jr.

Chukars’ Julio Gonzalez throws to first to make a double play against the Mustangs at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

The trio combined for 12 RBIs as Idaho Falls routed Billings 17-2 at Melaleuca Field in front of 2,411 fans. Gonzalez led the way offensively with six RBIs while Miller and Gray added three RBIs, respectively.

All three had three or more hits during the win (Miller Jr. and Gonzalez had four hits apiece).

“We all had really good approaches,” Miller Jr. said. “Tried to keep it simple. (The Mustangs) have a really good staff … so it’s good to face pitching like that.”

The win split the four-game series at 2-2 as the Chukars move to 25-29 overall (8-8 second half ).

It was Idaho Falls’ largest-margin of victory since beating Helena 13-1 on July 21. The Chukars’ 22 hits, the second-most this season, made Thursday night’s win all the more sweeter.

Six of those hits came in the bottom of the sixth frame alone.

But while the offense exploded, the Chukars’ bullpen did its job, too.

“(Janser) Lara had a very solid start for us. Throwing the ball, attacking the hitters,” manager Justin Gemoll said. “And we scored runs early and we kept added on throughout the game. It’s a good win for us.”

Simply, the Chukars blasted Mustangs’ pitcher Tyler Mondile (L, 2-4) from the opening frame, registering 12 hits and eight runs.

Mondile finished the night with an ERA of 5.15.

Conversely, Idaho Falls’ starter Janser Lara controlled early and often. Billings’ six hits were one of the lowest totals this season against the Chukars, statistically one of the Pioneer League’s worst pitching and defensive teams.

But as Lara and closer Andrew Beckwith shut the door on Billings (24-28, 6-9), the Chukars kept adding on runs.

Lara finished the night with two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out six. He did allow one home run, as Jeter Downs hit his fourth dinger of the season in the top of the sixth.

Beckwith allowed one hit and struck out two in 2.1 innings pitched Thursday.

“They threw the ball well,” Pitching coach Jeff Suppan said of his bullpen. “Janser threw the ball well, so I was happy for him. I thought he was smooth and had good rhythm. It’s really his first time pitching in the United States, so I think his stuff really played well.”

What’s important:

From the start, this was the Chukars’ night. Six runs in the bottom of the third gave them an early lead and Idaho Falls hardly had a problem afterwards.

Player (s) of the game:

Julio Gonzalez. While Miller Jr., Gray and Janser Lara played a vital role during Thursday night’s win, Gonzalez’s six RBIs were most notable.

Quotable:

“It is nice to get one of these (routs), but it’s by no means a day off. We still have to go up there and keep our foot on the gas and not let up because that’s how a lot of teams come back, especially in this league. It’s an offensive league, so you’re not safe up by freakin’ eight runs. These guys battled, and we battled, and I think it was a good series.” — DH Darrell Miller Jr.

Notables:

– Gonzalez’s six RBIs were a team-high this year. He’s also only the third player to hit five-plus RBIs in a single game this year, joining Robby Rinn and Matt Morales.

– Darrell Miller’s RBI during the first frame was his 30th of the season. His 32 RBIs are tied for second-most (Tyler Straub) on the Chukars.

– An attendee was injured at Melaleuca during the latter portion of Saturday’s game and was transported away by ambulance. Chukars assistant GM Josh Michelson said the attendee was “okay” and had injured themselves from a fall.

Up next: The Chukars are off today. They will return to action Saturday at Grand Junction (27-27, 9-7). First pitch is at 6:40 p.m.

Voyagers only need home run to down Chukars, 2-0

By Post Register | Prsports@postregister.com
The Chukars just couldn’t get anything going Saturday night against the Voyagers.

Atleast, it was the quickest game of the season at two hours and 14 minutes.

Chukars’ Ramon Castro steals second base during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

Great Falls only needed a home run to outlast Idaho Falls, 2-0, Saturday night in Melaleuca Field, scoring two runs in the top of the second and holding on to earn its 20th win on the season. It was only the second time the Chukars had been shut out all season.

The Chukars fall to 22-27, 5-6 on the season. The Voyagers advance to 20-28, 5-5 and a top of the Pioneer League North standings.

The Voyagers scored their two runs late in the second frame, holding onto the lead after the Chukars failed to cross home plate for the first time since July 27 (3-0 loss to Orem).

It was a Franklin Reyes home run over the left field wall that scored Carlos Perez and got Great Falls on the board first. It ended up being the only offense necessary.

Despite starting pitcher Julio Pinto’s solid work on the mound — five hits, two earned runs and eight strikeouts in eight innings pitched — the Idaho Falls registered its lowest amount of hits since losing 13-2 to Orem on July 28 (four hits).

Saturday, the Chukars only mustered up five hits, with first baseman Robby Rinn going 1 for 4 at the plate. It was Rinn’s 10th-straight hit.

Pinto fell to 3-6 on the season. His eight innings pitched was also the longest start for any Chukar so far this season.

Chukars beat Voyagers, 6-3, with solid pitching

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Two of the Pioneer League’s bottom dwellers played Friday night at Melaleuca Field.

One team didn’t play like it, though.

Chukars’ Garrettson Harris pitches after replacing Chukars’ Janser Lara during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

The Idaho Falls Chukars beat the Great Falls Voyagers 6-3 Friday night in front of 2,329 fans to start its seven-game homestand.

In a relatively back-and-forth affair, the Chukars took control thanks to five runs in the final three frames. The win pushed the Chukars to 22-26 (5-5 in the second half) on the season. The Voyagers fall to 19-28 (4-5).

Chukars outfielders Travis Jones and Amalani Fukofuka led the way at the plate, going 2 for 4 and 2 for 3, respectively. They both reached home plate twice.

“Quality at-bats, really,” said Jones, when asked what went right Friday night. “Our at-bats were pretty quality today.”

Jones broke the stalemate first, scoring on a wild pitch during the second inning after hitting a triple to right field to get on base.

It was almost the only run the Chukars needed until Voyagers’ outfielder Tate Blackmon hit a line drive off starting pitcher Janser Lara, and past Amalani Fukofuka, to tie the game at one in the sixth frame.

Lara, a Pioneer League All-Star, pitched well up to that point, finishing the night with one run on two hits while walking three and striking out four in 5.2 innings pitched.

Garrettson Harris relieved him, earning his second win (2-0) on the season in 2.1 innings pitched.

The Chukars answered the Voyagers’ single run with three runs in the bottom of the six when Fukofuka scored off a failed rundown and Freddy Fermin and Brewer Hicklen plated two runs off RBIs.

“You can only hit the ball so hard, and it’s up to God where the ball goes and I think it’s been going in the hole lately,” Jones said.

The Voyagers made it close with two runs in the seventh, but two Chukars — Fukofuka and Robby Rinn — scored with bases loaded to put the game away.

Chukars’ Julio Gonzalez throws to first during game one of three against the Voyagers at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Id., Friday, August 11, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

“What really won the game was the good communication between the pitcher, catcher and the infield,” Fermin said through Chukars’ Andrew Scarlata, who translated. “It was superior tonight.”

What’s important:

The Chukars success against the Voyagers this season continued Friday night. Every time Great Falls seemed to score, Idaho Falls answered.

Player (s) of the game:

Travis Jones and Janser Lara. Lara, one of the Chukars best pitchers, showed solid command, not allowing a run until the sixth inning. Jones went 2 for 4 at the plate, including a triple in the bottom of the second.

Notables:

– Rain briefly hit Melaleuca Field during the first inning, causing some fans to ditch their seats. The rain lasted less than two minutes.

– Right fielder Amalani Fukfofuka registered his 14th hit in 11 games Friday after a line drive was mishandled by Voyagers’ third baseman Craig Dedelow.

– Travis Jones’ recent tear through the Pioneer League continued Friday when he tripled to right field. He later scored on a wild pitch. Jones has garnered nine hits in the previous four games.

Up next: The Chukars will return to Melaleuca Field tonight for game two of three against the Voyagers. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Mustangs halt Chukars’ sweep, win 14-9

By Post Register | Prsports@postregister.com
The Idaho Falls Chukars entered Wednesday’s game against Billings with a sweep on the line and instead took a 14-9 loss to the Mustangs at Dehler Park. 

The Chukars fall to 21-26 overall and 4-5 in the second half of Pioneer League play.

As in its previous two games against Billings, Idaho Falls again got off to a quick start on Wednesday with a 5-0 lead after the top of the first. Billings matched it to end the frame knotted at 5-5. Matt Morales scored with two outs in the top of the fourth to make it 6-5 Idaho Falls, but that was the last time the Chukars would lead.

The Mustangs (22-23, 4-4 second half), capitalized on a walk, two errors, a wild pitch, a balk, a stolen base, and two hits all with two outs to score four runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 9-6 lead. Billings scored another five unanswered runs in the next two innings before Idaho Falls got back on the scoreboard again with three runs in the top of the eighth.

After combining for 25 runs and five errors on Tuesday, the Chukars and Mustangs combined for 27 hits and seven errors on Wednesday. Five of those errors were committed by Idaho Falls.

Morales went 3 for 5 with three runs scored, Amalani Fukofuka went 2 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored while Robby Rinn went 1 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

Starting pitcher Dillon Drabble took the loss, giving up seven runs (four earned) on seven hits while walking three and striking out four in 4.2 innings.

The Chukars return to Melaleuca Field on Friday for game one of three against Great Falls after a seven-game road trip to Montana. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.