17 year-old Gasparini’s big night gives Chukars 8-3 win in season finale


Idaho Falls Chukars short stop Marten Gasparini slides into third base during Thursday's season finale against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

Last Friday, Marten Gasparini went 0 for 2 with two errors in the Burlington Royals’ season finale.

Fortunately for Gasparini, this wasn’t his last game.

The 17-year-old Italy native traveled from North Carolina to Idaho Falls and played in the Chukars’ final five games. He saved his best for last, going 3 for 3 with a three-run home run in Idaho Falls’ 8-3, season-ending win over the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field on Thursday night. The game was a satisfying end to a mediocre season for both Gasparini and the Chukars (38-38).

“I’ll go into (Fall Instructional League) with a much better mindset,” Gasparini said Thursday.

Gasparini sparked the Chukars’ first rally with a one-out single in the first inning, and he moved to third on Samir Duenez’s single the following at-bat. On a 1-1 count with two outs, Duenez took off for second. Odgen’s catcher threw to second in attempt to catch Duenez stealing. Meanwhile, Gasparini sprinted toward home. The throw took one hop in front of the second baseman, who bobbled the ball, allowing Duenez to notch the steal and Gasparini to score.

The Raptors struck back in the third. With two outs and a runner on first, Cody Bellinger blasted a triple into the left center field gap. Gasparini handled the relay but his throw to third was off line and bounced into Odgen’s dugout. The error allowed Bellinger to score, giving Odgen a 2-1 lead.

Idaho Falls answered in the bottom half of the inning, with Gasparini leading the charge again. He hit a two-out single and scored the next at-bat on a double down the left field line by Duenez.

Idaho Falls’ Jecksson Flores hit a one-out single the next inning and moved over to third on a single by Cesar Gonzalez. Desmond Henry walked to load the bases and Brandon Downes drove in Flores with a sacrifice fly to deep right.

Next up was Gasparini, who crushed a three-run home run to right, putting the Chukars up 6-2 and essentially sealing the victory.

“He’s still young, still learning, but it’s exciting to watch him play,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said of Gasparini.

Chukars first baseman and Pioneer League MVP Ryan O’Hearn lauded Gasparini’s defense, in addition to his offensive firepower.

“I sure wasn’t that good when I was 17,” O’Hearn said.

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Chukars stay driven in 9-4 win over Raptors


The only difference for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Thursday night was the wind howling out to left center field.

The Chukars, who were eliminated from the Pioneer League playoffs four days ago, played their second-to-last game of the season Wednesday against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. While the outcome was meaningless, Idaho Falls’ players and coaches said they treated the game like any other. They wouldn’t want to take a game lightly no matter how unimportant it was.

The final outcome — a 9-4 Chukars victory — illustrated their business-like approach.

“That’s being a professional,” Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said.

The Chukars’ offense put up five runs in the first inning, all with two outs.

Pioneer League MVP Ryan O’Hearn started the rally with a walk. Robert Pehl followed with a single, then O’Hearn and Pehl moved up a base on a wild pitch before scoring on Samir Duenez’s single. Brawlun Gomez followed with another single, and Mike Hill made the score 4-0 with a triple to right center. Pedro Gonzalez completed the scoring with a bloop double to right.

The Chukars added on in the third when Duenez, who hit a leadoff triple, scored on a passed ball.

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Raptors rally for 12-5 win over Chukars

The Ogden Raptors rallied from an early 4-1 deficit and rolled to a 12-5 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars on Tuesday in Ogden, Utah.

It was the final road game of the season for the Chukars, who fell to 36-38 overall and 16-20 in the second half.

The Chukars took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn, a wild pitch and an error. Ogden got a run back in the bottom of the inning before I.F. regained its three-run lead in the sixth on Jecksson Flores’ RBI groundout that scored Brandon Thomasson.

Ogden broke things open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and four more in the seventh. Julian Leon and Jacob Scavuzzo both hit two-run homers in the sixth, while the Raptors scored on a bases-loaded walk, a two-run single from Alex Verdugo and an RBI groundout from Scavuzzo.

The Raptors added three more runs in the eighth with a two-run single from Leon and a sac fly by Yensys Capellan.

O’Hearn had another big day for the Chukars, going 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI. Shortstop Corey Toups also went 2 for 5 and scored a run.

Kyle Zimmer made his final rehab appearance, going 0.2 innings while allowing a hit and a walk and striking out two.

Torey Deshazier took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

Bernardo Reyes pitched two innings of relief to earn the win, allowing one run on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts.

The Raptors (37-36, 22-13 second half) and Chukars now head to Melaleuca Field to finish off the regular season. The teams will play today and Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Ogden has clinched the top spot in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings and will face Orem in the first round of the playoffs beginning this weekend. The Chukars have been eliminated.

Chukars snap Raptors’ six-game win streak

The Idaho Falls Chukars used a strong start from Jake Newberry and a big seventh inning to hold off the Ogden Raptors 6-5 on Monday in front of 2,622 fans at Lindquist Field.

The Chukars trailed 3-2 entering the seventh when they scored four runs on four hits, two walks, an error and a balk to take a 6-3 lead. Corey Toups, Ryan O’Hearn and Samir Duenez had RBIs in the inning while the other run scored on an error.

Ogden scored two runs in the ninth and had home run leader Justin Chigbogu up with a man on and two outs, but the 6-foot-4, 250 pounder flied out to deep right off Nick Green to end the game.

Duenez had a big night, going 3 for 5 while O’Hearn walked three times and drove in two runs.

Newberry finished his season in style, allowing three runs, two earned on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. Jon Fitzsimmons allowed two runs, one earned, in 2.1 innings of relief and Green got the final two outs to earn his fourth save.

The Chukars and Raptors play against tonight at Ogden before heading to Melaleuca for the final two games of the regular season Wednesday and Thursday.

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O’Hearn wins Pioneer League MVP, makes All-Star team with four other Chukars



The 2014 Idaho Falls Chukars won’t repeat as Pioneer League champions, but their players sure made an impression on the league this summer.

The Chukars posted a league-high five players on the Pioneer League’s 2014 All-Star team, and also walked away with the summer’s top prize when first baseman/right fielder Ryan O’Hearn earned the Ralph Nelles Award given to the league’s MVP.

Third baseman Mike Hill, shortstop Corey Toups, outfielder Robert Pehl and right-handed pitcher Torey Deshazier joined O’Hearn on the All-Star team.

O’Hearn, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed slugger out of Sam Houston State, is the first I.F. player to win the Nelles Award since Clint Robinson in 2007.

He started his pro career with a 5-for-5 night in his debut and never stopped hitting. His .372 batting average entering Saturday’s game was second in the league, and he leads the league in hits (87), runs (58) and slugging percentage (.598) while also belting 12 home runs and driving in 50 runs. He’s currently second in the league in on-base percentage at .449.

“I want to thank God first of all, and my teammates and coaches,” O’Hearn said in a news release. “I’ve been so blessed to end up in an awesome organization in the Royals, and to start my career with the Chukars. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and my time here. It’s an honor to get picked for this award, and it’s something I will always cherish.”

Toups, a teammate of O’Hearn’s at Sam Houston State, shook off a slow start and is hitting .330 with 46 walks and an on-base percentage of .452. He also has 20 doubles.

Hill showed a strong arm at third base and is also hitting .282 with three home runs, 30 RBIs and a league-high seven triples.

Pehl has been the team’s cleanup hitter for most of the summer, batting .339 with 41 RBIs.

Deshazier has been the Chukars best pitcher all summer, posting a 5-2 record and a league-low 2.85 ERA. He’s second in WHIP (1.23) and opponents batting average (.236) while adding 64 strikeouts.

Kyle Pollock was named honorable mention at catcher while Omar Ramirez was an honorable mention selection as Manager of the Year (won by Grand Junction’s Anthony Sanders).

Chukars eliminated from 2014 Pioneer League playoffs


Idaho Falls did its part to stay alive in the Pioneer League playoff chase Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Ogden Raptors didn’t play along.

Idaho Falls knocked 11 hits, stole five bases and got dominating relief pitching to beat Orem 5-1 in front of 2,698 fans at Melaleuca Field. But down in Ogden, Utah, the Raptors cruised to a 9-7 win over Grand Junction and eliminated the Chukars from the South Division second-half playoff face.

The Chukars played a complete game Saturday.

Brawlun Gomez led the offense, going 3 for 4 with a run scored, two RBIs and a stolen base. Corey Toups went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI and DonAndre Clark was 2 for 4 with a run scored and two stolen bases.

Eric Stout and Matthew Strahm shut the door over the final five innings. Stout earned the win, tossing three scoreless, hitless innings. Strahm followed with two scoreless innings.

The Chukars (35-36, 15-18) finish the regular season with five games against Ogden, the first three in Utah beginning today with the final two at Melaleuca Field beginning Wednesday.

Late homer not enough in 4-3 loss to Owlz


Even a top performer for the Idaho Falls Chukars was kicking himself Thursday after the team’s 4-3 loss to the Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field.

Third baseman Mike Hill pulled the Chukars within a run after his two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. However, his blast might have tied the game if not for his error in the top half of the inning.

With two outs and nobody on in the eighth, Orem’s Raul Linares hit a fairly routine ground ball to Hill, who bobbled it, allowing Linares to reach first. The next batter, Andrew Daniel, blasted a Mariel Checo pitch to right center field for a double, scoring Linares for a 4-1 lead.

Hill said he thought about his error immediately after his home run narrowly cleared the right-field fence.

“It was bittersweet,” Hill said.

Such was the night for Idaho Falls (34-35, 14-17 in second half), which now sits four-and-a-half games behind first-place Ogden in the South Division second-half playoff chase with seven games to play.

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Chukars flip script in 3-1 win over Owlz


Idaho Falls Chukars right fielder Brandon Thomasson catches a deep fly ball during the game against the Orem Owlz Wednesday at Melaleuca Field. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

A night after the Idaho Falls Chukars lost to the Orem Owlz thanks to an untimely error, the Owlz returned the favor.

An error-filled third inning netted Idaho Falls a 3-0 lead, and the Chukars held on for a 3-1 victory Wednesday night at Melaleuca Field.

“They gave it away,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “But I’ll take a win this time of year with the way we’ve been playing.”

The win puts the Chukars three and a half games behind Ogden, the second-half leader of the Pioneer League South Division, with eight games to play. Idaho Falls is 34-34 on the season and 14-16 in the second half.

Idaho Falls’ offense mustered only four hits, and zero came with runners in scoring position. But the Chukars didn’t need great hitting Wednesday night.

In the bottom of the third, Jecksson Flores hit a one-out single (the only hit of the inning) but was forced out on a fielder’s choice. Corey Toups and Ryan O’Hearn then drew walks, setting up a bases-loaded opportunity for Robert Pehl. In a 1-1 count, starting pitcher Michael Bolaski threw a wild pitch, allowing Brandon Downes to score from third. Later in the at-bat, Pehl hit a soft chopper to Bolaski’s right. Bolaski tracked the ball down quickly and fired an off-balance, on-target throw to first baseman Ryan Seiz — who dropped it. The error allowed Toups and O’Hearn to score, putting the Chukars up 3-0.

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Pioneer League-Northwest League All-Star game to debut in 2015



The best of the Pioneer League will take on the best of the Northwest League in an all-star game starting in 2015, the leagues announced Tuesday.

The first PBL-NWL All-Star game will be hosted by the Spokane Indians and will be played at Avista Stadium on Aug. 4, 2015.

“The Northwest League and Pioneer League are two prominent short-season leagues in Minor League Baseball,” Pat O’Connor, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball, said in a news release. “To combine the two and showcase the talented individuals from 14 Major League farm systems is a win for everyone, especially the fans.”

The release didn’t specify how the teams would be chosen.

The Pioneer League is made up of teams from Idaho Falls, Ogden (Utah), Orem (Utah), Grand Junction (Colo.), Missoula (Mont.), Billings (Mont.), Helena (Mont.) and Great Falls (Mont.).

The Northwest League has teams in Boise, Spokane, Everett (Wash.), Tri-City (Wash.), Eugene (Ore.), Hillsboro (Ore.) and Salem-Keizer (Ore.).

Owlz complete four-game sweep of Chukars


The bats have gone silent at the wrong time for the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Idaho Falls managed just four hits, all of them singles, as the Orem Owlz completed a four-game sweep with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Brent Brown Ballpark.

The loss dropped the Chukars to 33-34 overall and 13-16 in the second half. Pioneer League South Division leader Grand Junction won by forfeit over Ogden, and Idaho Falls now trails the Rockies by five games with nine to play.

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