Rockies break open tight game, beat Chukars 7-2

Idaho Falls baserunner Brandon Thomasson slides into third base ahead of the tag of Grand Junction’s Luis Jean on his second-inning triple during Wednesday’s game in Grand Junction, Colo. Gretel Daugherty / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

POST REGISTER

At Grand Junction, Colo., Tuesday night’s 16-inning, five-and-a-half-hour marathon and a 500-mile bus ride to Grand Junction, Colo., proved too much for the Idaho Falls Chukars to overcome on Wednesday night.

Grand Junction broke open a one-run game with four late runs and beat the weary Chukars 7-2 in front of 1,820 fans at Suplizio Field.

Idaho Falls scored single runs in the second and fifth innings while Grand Junction had single runs in the second, third and fifth. The Rockies scored twice in the seventh without a ball leaving the infield, the got a two-run home run from Luis Jean in the eighth.

That was more than enough for a trio of Rockies pitchers.

Carlos Polanco worked seven full innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four. Craig Schlitter loaded the bases in the eighth but worked out of the jam, and Alec Crawford struck out two in a scoreless ninth to close it out.

The Chukars wasted a strong starter from Zach Lovvorn. The right-hander from Oxford, Ala., allowed three runs, one earned on five hits and two walks while striking out three in six innings. Lovvorn took the loss and fell to 2-3.

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UPDATED, 7/30: Thomasson’s RBI 2B sends I.F. to 9-8, 16-inning win after a night of brawls

Chukars outfielder Brandon Downes hits the ball deep into left field to bring two runners home and tie the score 2-2 during the fourth inning of the game against the Ogden Raptors Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

By PAUL LAMBERT
prsports@postregister.com

When Brandon Thomasson finally ended it with a double in the bottom of the 16th inning, Idaho Falls Chukars manager Omar Ramirez was sitting in the clubhouse.

His Chukars had just beaten Ogden 9-8 in a heated, marathon game.

A game that featured 32 hits, three fights, 11 ejections and two 7th-inning stretches — all before coming to a merciful end when Chukars catcher Pedro Gonzalez slid home ahead of the tag.

And Ramirez? He missed it after being ejected in the top of the 10th following a bench-clearing brawl that included Ramirez and Ogden manager Jack McDowell.

The victory roar went up from the home crowd at 12:47 a.m. early Wednesday morning after 5 hours, 29 minutes of play.

And Ramirez? He was sitting in his office watching ESPN with a bruise on his left cheek and a plate of chicken on his desk.

He didn’t even know how the game ended. Some media guy had to tell him.

As a professional manager, Ramirez certainly had access to the MiLB live broadcast. He just couldn’t bear to watch it on a little TV while locked behind the cinder block walls of his office.

“I didn’t watch,” he said. “Being in the dugout I can handle things. But when I can’t handle things, I get nervous. I don’t even know how we won the game.”

Part of what Ramirez didn’t watch was Ogden breaking an 8-7 tie in the top of the eighth, only to have Idaho Falls come back with a run of its own in the bottom of the frame.

That game-tying run came after a Thomasson double, a balk on a failed intentional walk attempt and an infield single by Corey Toups.

Gonzalez doubled to left center to start the 16th, and Thomasson doubled to the opposite gap beyond a spirited dive by Ogden center fielder Devan Arehart.

Thomasson’s hit rolled to the wall, but Gonzalez had a late start and barely made it home before the relay throw.

“He threw me a couple curveballs before that, then he threw me a fastball and left it out over the plate,” Thomasson said. “I got the bat head out and just drove it to right center.”

The Chukars players exploded out of the dugout, mobbing both Gonzalez and Thomasson on the infield. For his efforts, Thomasson got a Gatorade bath in the left eye and ear, as well as an ice bath down the back of his No. 35 pinstripe jersey.

“It’s a great win, and these guys have heart and they showed it again tonight,” Ramirez said.

Idaho Falls gave up a 7-2 lead to Ogden for the second straight night when the Raptors posted five runs in the eighth on three walks, a hit batsman and two hits.

Unlike Monday’s 10-7 loss to the Raptors where two late errors led to three critical runs, the Chukars played an astounding 16 innings of errorless Rookie League baseball on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

“We talked about it last night when we struggled defensively, and tonight we took care of business with the baseball,” Ramirez said.

The two teams won’t meet again until the end of the season when they play five straight to close the Pioneer League’s second half.

Considering the hoots, caterwauling and general mayhem in the post-game locker room, Thomasson believes Tuesday’s win is the type of game that could turn around the second half of the season for the 1-2 Chukars.

And Ramirez? He’s similarly encouraged.

“This was unbelievable,” he said. “There were fights and all that, and thank God we won this game. … Hopefully from here on good things happen.”

FIGHT NIGHT RECAP

Three 10th-inning fights broke out in the Idaho Falls win, adding extra drama to an extra-inning thriller.

The confrontation began when Ogden designated hitter Justin Chigbogu took exception to something said by Idaho Falls catcher Pedro Gonzalez following Chigbogu’s three-pitch strikeout in the top of the 10th.

After reaching the third-base on-deck circle, Chigbogu flipped his bat and started aggressively shouting and walking toward Gonzalez.

At that point, home plate umpire Jordan Johnson got between the two, the benches and bullpens cleared, and more than 60 grown men began pushing and shoving midway between home plate and the pitching mound.

The much-taller McDowell was bumping and pointing in Ramirez’s face, and Ramirez was bumping and barking right back – finally shouting an audible, two-word curse.

McDowell threw the first punch, and that sent the entire throng from pushing to punching.

“It was just baseball,” Ramirez said. “They thought we were throwing at their hitters and all that, which we didn’t. Jack got mad or whatever … and you saw what happened.”

The teams separated once, and after some additional barking, snowballed on the infield again 90 seconds later.

A third fracas erupted as McDowell and Ramirez reached the clubhouse after both were ejected.

McDowell was waiting for Ramirez and the bulldogging began anew. Again both dugouts and bullpens made a mad dash to the clubhouse area.

“He thought I sucker punched him or whatever … but that’s in the past,” Ramirez said.

After separating the teams a third time, Johnson had tossed McDowell, Chigbogu, Ogden catcher Julian Leon, Ogden pitching coach Greg Sabat and Ogden outfielders Colin Hering and Theo Alexander.

Ramirez was also thrown out, along with pitcher Brooks Pounders and Brawlun Gomez. Idaho Falls bench coach Julio Bruno was ejected in an unrelated incident in the 15th.

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BREAKING: Chukars edge Raptors 9-8 in 16 innings

A Brandon Thomasson double drove in Pedro Gonzalez for the tie-breaking, game-winning run in the bottom of the 16th to end the game after five hours, 29 minutes. Check Chukarsextra.com later for a complete follow-up.

Brawl breaks out, Chukars go into 14th inning tied 7-7 with Raptors

By PAUL LAMBERT
prsports@postregister.com

Ogden Raptors rookie manager Jack McDowell threw a right hand at Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez, and it was on.

A 10th-inning fight broke out between the Raptors and Chukars at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday night, adding extra drama to an extra-inning thriller, a game that was tied 7-7 in the top of the 13th inning at Post Register deadline.

The confrontation began when Ogden designated hitter Justin Chigbogu took exception to something said by Idaho Falls catcher Pedro Gonzalez following Chigbogu’s three-pitch strikeout in the top of the 10th.

After reaching the third-base on-deck circle, Chigbogu flipped his bat and started shouting and walking toward Gonzalez.

At that point, home umpire Jordan Johnson got between the two, the benches and bullpens cleared, and more than 50 grown men began pushing and shoving midway between home plate and the pitching mound.

The much-taller McDowell was bumping and pointing in Ramirez’s face, and Ramirez was bumping and barking right back — finally shouting an audible, two-word curse.

McDowell threw the first punch, and that sent the entire throng from pushing to punching.

The teams separated once, and after some additional barking, snowballed on the infield again 90 seconds later.

A third fracas erupted as McDowell and Ramirez reached the clubhouse after both were ejected. Apparently, McDowell was waiting for Ramirez and the bulldogging began anew. Again both dugouts and bullpens made a mad dash to the clubhouse area.

After separating the teams a third time, Johnson had tossed McDowell, Chigbogu, Ogden catcher Julian Leon, pitching coach Greg Sabat and outfielders Colin Hering and Theo Alexander.

Ramirez was also thrown out, along with Idaho Falls pitcher Brooks Pounders and infielder Brooks Gomez.

Idaho Falls gave up a 7-2 lead to Ogden for the second straight night when the Raptors posted five runs in the eighth on three walks, a hit batsman and two hits.

The two teams won’t meet again until the end of the season, when they play five straight to close the Pioneer League’s second half.

CHUKARS CHATTER: Idaho Falls lost a pair of players to promotion this week, losing RHP Ashton Goudeau to the Lexington Legends (Class A long season), and INF Logan Davis to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High Class A). … Robert Pehl extended hit hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single in the fifth. … The Chukars have had 10 or more hits in 10 straight games at Melaleuca Field. … Both of Tuesday night’s pitchers, Bryan Brickhouse (I.F.) and Jeff Brigham (Ogden) had Tommy John surgery in 2013.

Miscues cost Chukars in 10-7 loss to Raptors

By PAUL LAMBERT
prsports@postregister.com

Idaho Falls’ Brandon Downescq slides into third base as Ogden’s Yensys Capellancq waits to make the tag during Monday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. The play was close, but Downes was ruled safe at third. Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com

The Idaho Falls Chukars opened the second half of the Pioneer League season the same way they did the first, with a pair of losses.

But for manager Omar Ramirez, it wasn’t that his team lost Monday so much as how his team lost, falling 10-7 to Ogden in an error-filled night at Melaleuca Field.

“We didn’t play defense today, didn’t make the pitches when we had to and things didn’t work out,” Ramirez said. “We’ve got to play better defense.”

The Chukars gave up the tying and winning runs after a two-out error in the seventh, and surrendered a pair of cushion runs in the ninth set up by another error.

All this after taking an early 7-2 lead and scoring runs in each of the first four innings. The Chukars had 11 hits at the end of a four-run fourth, but managed just two hits over the final five.

For Ramirez the loss wasn’t about the Ogden pitching or the 14 Idaho Falls baserunners left on base.

It was all about poor fielding.

“A couple of relievers came in and shut us down, but we’ve got to play better defense,” he said. “We can’t give the other team four or five more outs and come out expecting to win ballgames.”

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Chukars drop first-half finale 7-6 to Raptors

POST REGISTER

A two-out rally by the Idaho Falls Chukars fell short in the top of the ninth in a 7-6 loss to the Ogden Raptors on Saturday at Lindquist Field to conclude the first half of the Pioneer League season.

This is the first time Idaho Falls (20-18) has finished the first half above .500 since 2009.

Before the ninth inning, Idaho Falls had mustered three hits while the Ogden Raptors (15-23) roughed up Chukars starting pitcher Jake Newberry. A hit by pitch, a double and back-to-back RBI singles by Ivan Vela and Justin Chigbogu put the Raptors up 2-0 with no outs in the first.

Hunter Redman extended Ogden’s lead to 4-0 with a solo homer in the second. A two-out, three-run homer by Luis Valenzuela — his first home run of the season — gave Idaho Falls a spark and tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the third.

The Raptors threatened in the bottom of the third, but the 3-3 deadlock remained when Ivan Vela was cut down at home on Valenzuela’s relay throw from left field.

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I.F. extends win streak to two over first-half Southern Division champs

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At Orem, Utah, the Idaho Falls Chukars won’t win the Pioneer League South Division first-half title. But they sent a message to the first-half champs Friday night.

Idaho Falls scored 15 unanswered runs after falling behind 3-2 early, pounding the first-half champion Orem Owlz 17-6 in front of 2,498 fans at Brent Brown Ballpark.

The Chukars didn’t waste any time getting on the board, taking a 2-0 lead in the first on Robert Pehl’s single to left that scored Brandon Downes and Corey Toups.

Orem got a run back in the bottom of the first, then took a 3-2 lead in the third on RBI singles from Ryan Seiz and Natanael Delgado.

That was as close as it would get.

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Chukars hold off Owlz rally for 9-7 road win

POST REGISTER

At Orem, Utah, no lead is safe when the Idaho Falls Chukars are involved.

The Chukars, who rallied from big deficits several times during their most recent homestand, watched Orem turn the tables Thursday night at Brent Brown Ballpark.

Luckily for Idaho Falls, Orem’s rally from an early seven-run deficit ran out of gas and the Chukars held on for a 9-7 win in front of 5,875 fans.

The Chukars appeared headed for a laugher early, scoring three runs in the first, three more in the second, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to take an 9-1 lead.

Ryan O’Hearn was in the middle of things once again for the Chukars. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound first baseman hit a two-run home in Idaho Falls’ three-run first, a two-run single in the second and finished 3 for 4 to push his batting average to .403.

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Voyagers hand Chukars third straight loss

By JEFF PINKHAM
jpinkham@postregister.com

After the offenses dominated the first three games between the Idaho Falls Chukars and Great Falls Voyagers, pitching finally reared its head Tuesday at Melaleuca Field.

The Idaho Falls Chukars left fielder Desmond Henry catches his breath after stealing third base during the second inning of the game against the Great Falls Voyagers Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. Henry has a batting average of .303. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

Unfortunately for the Chukars, the Voyagers did that better, too.

Great Falls (21-14) got five solid innings of relief from Anthony Santiago and Connor Walsh and plenty of timely hits to beat Idaho Falls 6-3 in front of 3,134 fans. The loss was the third straight for the Chukars (18-17), their longest streak since dropping three in a row to the Voyagers last season.

Idaho Falls, which was eliminated from the Pioneer League South Division race Monday night, went 3-4 on their homestand against Billings and Great Falls after going 5-2 against the same teams on the road last week.

“They pitched better than we did,” Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said.

Pitching has been a dirty word around Melaleuca Field in the past week. The Chukars and their opponents had combined to score at least 15 runs in the previous six games. Three times Idaho Falls’ opponents had scored at least 10 runs, twice by Great Falls on Sunday and Monday.

And for the first time in four games, Idaho Falls didn’t face an early 5-0 deficit. In fact, the Chukars led 2-1 in the second after an RBI groundout from Desmond Henry and an RBI single by Jecksson Flores.

But Great Falls, which won the Pioneer League North Division title Monday night, tied the game in the fourth and took the lead for good in the fifth with three runs — the final two coming on Patrick Palmeiro’s fourth home run of the season.

“That’s a good team over there,” Ramirez said.

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Chukars eliminated from first-half title race with 12-8 loss to Voyagers

By MARLOWE HERFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

An eighth-inning grand slam put an end to a wild game and the Idaho Falls Chukars’ first-half title hopes.

Great Falls catcher Dillon Haupt, who was 1 for 3 when he came to bat with the bases loaded and no outs, cleared the bases with a grand slam over the left-field wall in the eighth inning to break an 8-8 tie, sending the Voyagers to a 12-8 win before 3,444 fans at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars’ loss coupled with Orem’s 10-7 win over Missoula eliminated Idaho Falls (18-16) from the Southern Division first-half title race with four games remaining. The Voyagers (20-14) clinched the first half Northern Division title and their eighth consecutive playoff berth.

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