Lewis finishes the job in 8-7 Chukars win


When he struck out Patrick Palmeiro to seal an 8-7 win over Great Falls, Chukars pitcher Sam Lewis hard-pumped his fist and shouted.

And who could blame him?

The 6-foot-4 righty had just slammed the door on a perfect ninth, retiring seven straight to preserve a character win by the Idaho Falls Chukars on Saturday night at Melaleuca Field.

The victory came one night after a tough 9-8 loss to Billings when the Chukars gave up two runs in the exact same situation — leading 8-7 in the ninth inning.

It was also a character win for the Comeback Chukars, who fought through an early 5-0 deficit to score seven unanswered runs against the league’s top pitching team.

“We keep fighting and fighting and fighting,” Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said. “We just went out and scored one run at a time, and Lewis he came in and closed the deal.”

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Chukars pound out 19 hits in 14-3 win over Mustangs


Chukars cruised to a 14-3 win Thursday at Melaleuca Field.

After giving up a two-run homer in the top of the first inning, Idaho Falls dominated the remaining action, outhitting and outpitching the visiting Mustangs.

“Offensively we pounded it, and we got good defense and pitching,” Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said.

The Chukars finished with 19 hits, and every player on the Idaho Falls roster got a hit, led by leadoff man Brandon Downes with four. Brawlun Gomez had the Chukars’ lone homer, blasting a three-run shot in the eighth.

Chukars pitchers struck out 10 Billings batters, led by Torey Deshazier, who fanned seven over five shutout innings.

Deshazier, a power pitcher by statistical reputation, topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball, setting up an ankle-breaking curve that slid in over the inside corner of the plate against right-handers.

“I was getting ahead of the hitters and setting up the curveball, and the curveball was working” Deshazier said. “Sometimes it slides and sometimes it goes 12 to 6. I was able to locate my fastball down in the zone, and my defense held up and made plays.”

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Chukars rout Mustangs 10-2 on Mills’s final night


Alec Mills bid a fond farewell to the Idaho Falls Chukars on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound right-hander, who is on his way back from Tommy John surgery, pitched his second straight strong outing, helping Idaho Falls beat the Billings Mustangs 10-2 in front of 3,000 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Mills is heading to Single-A Lexington today to join the Legends.

The 2012 22nd-round draft pick, who underwent elbow surgery last summer, came on in the second and allowed just one run (one earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out five. He also pitched five strong innings last week at Billings.

“I definitely feel like I’m hitting my groove,”said Mills, who also spent the 2012 season with the Chukars. “I’m filling up the strike zone more, throwing the other pitches for strikes and keeping them off balance.”

He hopes the past two outings are a sign of good things to come.

“Pitching’s confidence,” he said. “If you can get it, take it and run with it.”

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Great Falls takes rubber match over I.F. 4-0


The Idaho Falls Chukars finished up a road trip to remember with a forgettable 7-3 loss to the Great Falls Voyagers on Monday in front of 1,417 fans at Centene Stadium.

The Chukars (15-13) entered Monday’s game with a 5-1 record on its seven-game road trip. But the Voyagers (17-11) sent the Chukars home unhappy, building a 4-0 lead after four innings and cruising to a victory.

Idaho Falls was outhit only 9-7, but Great Falls made its hits matter.

The Voyagers scored in the first on a leadoff walk by Chevy Clarke and a two-out triple by Zach Fisher. Great Falls doubled the lead in the second, getting two hits and a walk to start the inning then scoring on Jackson Laumann’s double play.

Clark doubled the lead again in the fourth when he belted a two-out single to center to score Patrick Palmeiro (son of Rafael Palmeiro) and Laumann.

Idaho Falls got on the board in the fifth when Brandon Thomasson doubled with one out, moved to third on DonAndre Clark’s single and then scored on a double steal.

Great Falls got that run back in the bottom of the fifth and added two more in the sixth. The Chukars scored twice more in the seventh on a single by Wander Franco, a double by Mike Hill and a two-run single to center by Clarke.

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Voyagers’ bullpen snaps Chukars’ win streak

At Great Falls, Mont., the Idaho Falls Chukars finally ran into a team that pitched better than they did.

Great Falls scored four runs in the second inning to build an early lead, then let its dominant pitching staff do the rest en route to a 7-3 victory over the Chukars in front of 1,600 fans at Centene Stadium at Legion Park on Saturday night. The loss put an end to I.F.’s five-game winning streak, a stretch when the Chukars outscored opponents 36-17.

The Voyagers entered Saturday leading the Pioneer League in team ERA (3.02), runs allowed (101) and earned runs (75), and have held opponents to three runs or fewer in 15 of 25 games. Those numbers got even better as three Great Falls pitchers combined on a four-hitter.

Great Falls (16-10) scored four runs in the second, three of them coming around on Toby Thomas’ bases-loaded double with two outs.

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Gomez’s big night leads Chukars to sweep of Mustangs

The Mustangs threatened late, but the Idaho Falls Chukars wrapped up the four-game series sweep with a 6-4 win over Billings on Friday at Dehler Park thanks to a big game from Brawlun Gomez.

The outfielder, who entered Friday’s game with one RBI so far this season, went 3 for 5 with a double and four RBIs. He also caught a fly ball off the bat of Brian O’Grady for the final out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Mustangs (11-14) were in control early, taking a 2-0 lead after two innings as Taylor Sparks scored Aristides Aquino with a triple and Kevin Franklin brought home Sparks with a two-out double.

Gomez cranked a two-out double to score Ryan O’Hearn and Wander Franco to tie the game in the top of the third, and the teams remained knotted at 2-2 until the fifth inning.

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Chukars surpass .500 for first three-game win streak of 2014

At Billings, Mont., two nights ago the Idaho Falls Chukars reached .500 for the first time this season.

Wednesday night, the Chukars earned their first three-game win streak of 2014.

Ryan O’Hearn continued his hot hitting with a two-run home run in the first inning and Idaho Falls never trailed, beating Billings 4-2 in front of 2,783 fans at Dehler Park.

O’Hearn, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound first baseman from Sam Houston State, extended his hitting streak to 12 games when he drove a pitch over the fence in right-center for his fourth home run of the season. His college teammate Corey Toups, who walked just before him, also scored on the play.

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Franco, Pollock lift Chukars to .500

Four-hit games from Wander Franco and Kyle Pollock helped the Idaho Falls Chukars reach the .500 mark for the first time in 2014.

Franco singled twice, doubled, homered and drove in two runs while Pollock singled three times, doubled and drove in three as Idaho Falls topped Billings 10-6 to improve to 11-11 on the season. I.F. trails South Division leader Orem by four games.

Idaho Falls got things going early, scoring four runs in the first on RBI singles by Ryan O’Hearn, Franco and Mike Hill and a sacrifice fly to center from Pollock.

Franco homered to lead off the third, Luis Valenzuela belted a two-run single in the fifth, DonAndre Clark hit an RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh and Pollock smacked a two-run single in the eighth. The Chukars finished with 16 hits overall and every hitter in the lineup scored at least one run. Only Robert Pehl (0 for 4, run) and Brandon Thomasson (0 for 4, run) failed to get a hit.

O’Hearn, the reigning Pioneer League Player of the Week, extended his hitting streak to 11 games by going 1 for 6. O’Hearn, who saw his average drop to .422, is 20 of 45 during his 11-game streak.

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Chukars’ O’Hearn named PL Player of the Week


Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman Ryan O’Hearn was named the Pioneer League Player of the Week after his performance last week.

The Sam Houston State product overpowered the Ogden Raptors in six games, going 14 of 25 with two home runs, four doubles, nine runs and six RBIs while hitting safely in each game. He led the league last week in average (.560), on-base percentage (.607) and slugging (.960).

At one point last week, O’Hearn had reached safely in eight straight at-bats.

O’Hearn leads the Pioneer League in batting average and slugging percentage, is second in on-base percentage and third in doubles.

The Chukars were off Monday, and return to action today with the first of four games at Billings. Idaho Falls then plays at Great Falls for three games, takes a day off for the Major League All-Star game and then starts a seven-game homestand against Billings on July 16.

Fourth inning falter costs Chukars in 8-4 loss to Raptors


The Idaho Falls Chukars saw a 3-0 lead disappear after a fourth inning marred by an error, an interference call and six runs, as the Ogden Raptors rallied for an 8-4 victory in front of 2,332 fans Saturday at Melaleuca Field.

Idaho Falls Chukars infielder Luis Valenzuela hits an infield fly during the game against the Ogden Raptors Saturday at Melalueca Field. Valenzuela's batting average is .295 so far this season. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com,

The Chukars have not lost three in a row nor won three in a row during the first-half of the Pioneer League season, a trend that the Raptors (7-13) have had a hand in for the ongoing seven-game series between the teams.

“We didn’t pitch well and we didn’t play good defense,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “That hurt us and we lost the game. Two of the things that I always say we’ve got to do, we didn’t do.”

The Chukars (9-11) were in control early as DonAndre Clark scored off Wander Franco’s single in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead. Idaho Falls stretched the lead to 3-0 as Kyle Pollock doubled to score Brawlun Gomez, and Pollock came home when Pedro Gonzalez reached on fielder’s choice. The Raptors took over in the next frame.

Back-to-back singles followed by a wild pitch, a strikeout and consecutive walks resulted in Colin Hering coming home for Ogden’s first run with one out. Zach Lovvorn relieved Chukars starting pitcher Alec Mills and the Raptors continued to take over as miscues piled up.

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