Author: Jeff Pinkham

Mustangs rough up Chukars 12-5


The crowd at Melaleuca Field has seen plenty of offense from the Idaho Falls Chukars in 2016. But they haven’t seen anything more impressive than the offensive showing the Billings Mustangs displayed Monday night.

Billings pounded out 21 hits and held off two Idaho Falls rallies to beat the Chukars 12-5 in front of 3,290 fans in a game that lasted 3 hours, 22 minutes.

It was the sixth loss in seven games for Idaho Falls, which remained three games behind Grand Junction in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.

Whatever you can do

Billings grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a leadoff triple by TJ Friedl and an RBI single from Taylor Trammell. The score remained stuck at 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Idaho Falls bats held to one hit up to that point finally came to life.

Nick Heath got things started with a leadoff single and then stole second. He moved to third on a single from Luke Willis. With Ricky Aracena batting, Heath came home on a passed ball. Manny Olloque gave Idaho Falls the lead with a swinging bunt to third.

Billings didn’t take long to answer, scoring four runs on five hits against reliever Drew Milligan. The momentum from a solid start by Andres Machado (five innings, six hits, one earned run, five strikeouts) and the mini rally in the fifth was gone.

The Mustangs tacked on three runs in the seventh in what looked like insurance runs at the time. But Idaho Falls scored three runs on four hits to make it a game.

It wasn’t a game for long. Billings put the game out of reach after the first two hitters struck out, scoring four runs on five hits.

Idaho Falls went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

No relief

It was a tough night for the Idaho Falls bullpen. Milligan picked up a blown save and the loss after the rough sixth inning, while Jason Freeman allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 2.2 innings. Cole Way walked one and struck out one in 0.1 innings.

Player of the game

The entire Billings lineup

There’s no way to pick one player for the Mustangs, who got a hit from every player in the lineup. Cassidy Brown led the way with four hits, while Jose Siri, Taylor Trammell, Hector Vargas and John Sansone each had three. Trammell, Montrell Marshall, Sansone and Morgan Lofstrom each had two RBIs.

Up next

The Mustangs (33-19, 10-4 second half) and Chukars (27-26, 5-10) play the second game of their four-game series tonight at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 7, VOYAGERS 3: Idaho Falls snapped a unsightly five-game losing streak, thanks to a strong start from Igol Feliz and a five-run second inning.

Feliz pitched in and out of trouble during his seven innings, allowing nine hits but not allowing a walk and limiting Great Falls to two earned runs.

And the offense, which had averaged just 2.8 runs during the five-game skid, belted five doubles and 11 hits total. Designated hitter Joe Dudek led the way, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs. Luke Willis, Angelo Castellano and Ryan Dale also had two-baggers.

And the defense, which leads the league in errors, didn’t have a miscue and turned one double play.

Chukars shine in speedy 7-0 win over Osprey


Life is good for the Idaho Falls Chukars at Melaleuca Field this summer.

The Chukars failed to reach 10 hits at home for the first time in 11 games (they finished with nine) Monday, but they came through when it counted. And combined with the dominating and efficient pitching of Andres Machado, Cole Way and Reinaldo Cepin, Idaho Falls cruised to a 7-0 win over the Missoula Osprey that sent the crowd of 3,502 fans home in 2 hours and 13 minutes.

The win pushed Idaho Falls to 14-4 at the friendly confines on Jim Garchow Way. Idaho Falls is tied with Orem for first place in the Pioneer League South Division at 18-12.

Mound masters

There’s efficient, and then there’s the performances turned in by Idaho Falls’ pitching trio Monday. Machado set the tone,allowing a double to Eudy Ramos with one out in the second inning but nothing else. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander pounded the strike zone, didn’t walk a hitter and struck out four in five innings. And he did it on just 51 pitches.

“He was dominating,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “He had a good fastball, he had command He was on.”

Machado was followed by the 6-foot-10 lefty Way, who allowed just one hit while striking out two in two scoreless innings. Cepin finished it off, giving up two hits and striking out one in two innings.

Hit parade

Idaho Falls entered the game as the Pioneer League’s best hitting team. They added nine hits in 31 at bats to that total, giving the Chukars a .326 team batting average. And while they didn’t reach double digits Monday, they were timely when it mattered.

Ricky Aracena got things started with a leadoff walk, Angelo Castellano moved him to second on a fielder’s choice, Manny Olloque got him to third with a sac fly and Meibrys Villoria brought him home with a single to center.

Idaho Falls followed the same pattern in the second, with Nick Heath drawing a leadoff walk, Ryan Dale following with single, Luke Willis adding a sac bunt and Castellano scoring Heath with a single to left.

The Chukars broke it open in the third, highlighted by Dale’s two-run single to center.

“They’ve got a consistent approach,” Gemoll said. “They’re locked in on what they want to hit.”

Player of the game

The honor has to go to Machado, who picked up his first win of the season. The native of Carabobo, Venezuela, has allowed just one run in the last 14 innings. Machado’s ERA was 13.50 after his first outing, 10.13 after his second and 7.62 after his third. It sits at 4.00 after Monday’s gem.

Up next

The Chukars and Osprey wrap up their four-game series at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Melaleuca Field. Idaho Falls is then off Wednesday before opening a four-game series in Helena, Mont. on Thursday.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 11, OSPREY 3: Idaho Falls kept its good streak going, piling up 17 hits and rolling to its fifth win in the past five games in front of 1,104 fans Sunday at Melaleuca Field.

Designated hitter Yeison Melo led the attack, going 4 for 4 while pushing his batting average to .351. Melo singled twice, doubled and belted a two-run homer in the third inning.

But Melo was far from the only hitting hero. Shortstop Ricky Aracena went 3 for 3, drew a walk and scored three runs, Third baseman Manny Olloque was 3 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI while second baseman Jordan Ebert went 3 for 5 with double, a run and two RBIs for Idaho Falls.

That was more than enough support for Chukars starter Igol Feliz. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty worked a solid seven innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season. Lefty Christian Flecha got the final six outs, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one.

Chukars walk off unlikely winners over Ogden

Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

A game that deserved a wild ending got just that when Meibrys Viloria crushed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to hand the Idaho Falls Chukars a 16-12 victory over the Ogden Raptors in front of a season-best crowd of 3,678 fans Monday night at Melaleuca Field.

Viloria’s 458-foot blast high over the wall in right field sent the fans scurrying to catch the fireworks show 10 minutes before the scheduled 10 p.m. start time, and sent the Chukars to an unlikely win.

Overcoming the odds

Idaho Falls did everything it could to hand the game to Ogden, falling behind 7-0 in the second inning, committing seven errors and walking 12 Raptors hitters. Fittingly, the Chukars were a strike away from a win in the top of the ninth when a close pitch went against Idaho Falls lefty Reinaldo Cepin. DJ Peters made the Chukars pay, sending the next pitch into left field to score the tying run.


But Brian Bayliss got the final out of the ninth and then worked a scoreless 10th before Idaho Falls loaded the bases on single, a sac bunt, an intentional walk and another walk. Yeison Melo had the first chance to end it, but he struck out after getting ahead in the count. That left it up to Viloria, the Chukars’ leading hitter this summer. Viloria worked the count into his favor before launching a no-doubter to right for this team-high third home run and setting off a celebration at home plate.

As they have done for much of the season, the Chukars were able to overcome bad defense (they lead the Pioneer League in errors) and inconsistent pitching with dominating offense. One day after collecting 18 hits, Idaho Falls finished with 19 in Monday’s win. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, four had two hits and Tanner Stanley (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs), Colton Frabasilio (3 for 5, two runs, RBI) and Viloria (3 for 5, three runs, six RBIs) had three.


Lanky left-hander Cole Way didn’t have his best stuff, but his three innings of shutout relief allowed the Chukars to rally from the early 7-0 deficit. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound punter-turned-pitcher from Tulsa, Okla., allowed just one hit and walked three while striking out four. His ERA dropped to 2.08.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

The sweet-swinging lefty has been a nightmare for pitchers this summer. He entered Monday second in the league with .467 average, going 21 of 45 with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. He increased his average to .480 on Monday, adding his 10th double and third home run while pushing his RBI total to 19 (tied for the team lead).

Up next

The Chukars wrap up their six-game homestand with a game against the Ogden Raptors tonight. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls then hits the road for three games at Ogden and three more at Orem before taking a day off July 12.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 18, ROCKIES 7: Idaho Falls blasted five homers on a breezy Sunday afternoon and cruised to a win over the Rockies, giving the Chukars three wins in the four-game series.

Luke Willis, Leland Clemmons, Ryan Dale, David Edwards and Manny Olloque went deep for the Chukars, who finished with 18 hits. Olloque led the hit parade, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Willis was 3 for 5 with four runs and two RBIs, Ricky Aracena was 3 for 6 with two runs and two RBIs and Angelo Castellano went 2 for 4 with a double, a run and two RBIs.

Arnaldo Hernandez earned the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Owlz hand Chukars first loss of 2016 season


The Idaho Falls Chukars dropped their first game of the 2016 season, falling 8-5 to the Orem Owlz in front of a crowd of 2,346 fans Monday night at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars gave up four runs in the top of the first inning and never recovered, though the they made it close late.

Tough start

Idaho Falls was rarely challenged in its season-opening two-game sweep of Ogden, but that changed quickly Monday. The Owlz loaded the bases with one out (single, hit by pitch and a single by former BYU standout Brennon Lund) before Torres roped a double to left-center that made its way to the wall, scoring all three baserunners. Torres then came around on an error by first baseman Brandon Dulin to make it 4-0.

The Chukars cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Dulin and an RBI fielder’s choice from David Edwards, but that was as close as Idaho Falls would get.

Orem scored single runs in the second, third and fourth off Idaho Falls starter Andres Machado (four innings, nine hits, six earned runs, one strikeout) and another on Nick Flair’s homer off Jason Freeman to lead off the fifth.

Big arms

Orem’s four pitchers looked like they belonged in a huddle rather than on the mound Monday.

The Owlz opened with 6-foot-5, 224-pound right-hander Crusito Mieses, who allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out four in five innings. He was followed by 6-4, 250-pound lefty Ariel Ovando, who worked a perfect sixth inning. Next up was 6-5, 240-pound righty Blake Smith, who allowed a run on a hit with one walk and one strikeout in one inning.

Ty Barkell, a 6-3, 225-pound righty, closed it out despite giving up two runs on two hits and four strikeouts in two innings.

All four Orem pitchers touched at least 90 on the radar gun.

Big hitters

Brandon Dulin and Meibrys Viloria had big nights for the Chukars in defeat, combining for five hits and two runs. Dulin, who homered Saturday, went 2 for 4 with a run to increase his season average to .385. And Viloria went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a run scored.

The Chukars finished with 10 hits.

Player of the game

Owlz third baseman Franklin Torres

The 19-year-old from Maracay, Venezuela, had a night, going 3 for 5 with a double, two runs scored and three RBIs. His three-run double in Orem’s four-run first set the tone, and he added two singles. Torres made two throwing errors, but he also made two tough plays in the field.

Up next

The Chukars and Owlz return to Melaleuca Field on Tuesday in the second game of the four-game series. First pitch is 7:15 p.m. Nate Bertness is scheduled to start for Orem while Alex Luna is set to take the mound for Idaho Falls.

Chukars rally past Rockies in ninth

At Grand Junction, Colo., the Idaho Falls Chukars scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning and pulled out a 5-3 win over the Grand Junction Rockies in Pioneer League baseball action Saturday.

Hunter Dozier knocked in Carlos Garcia with a sharp line-drive single to right with two outs to put the Chukars up 4-3. Humberto Arteaga then added an insurance run when he waltzed home on a wild pitch from Carlos Yan.

Corey Rhoney shut the door on the Rockies in the ninth, striking out Jose Briceno swinging to end the game.

The win came a day late for the Chukars (17-18), who were eliminated from the South Division first-half playoff race with a loss Friday night. Despite the loss, Grand Junction (21-14) wrapped up the South Division first-half title and a playoff spot when Orem lost to Ogden.

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Season ends with 17-9 loss in Orem

The 2011 season ended with a bang for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Thursday night.

The bang of 21 Orem Owlz hits.

The Owlz built an early 10-1 lead, pounded out 21 hits and cruised to a 17-9 Pioneer League win in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

The season is over for the Chukars, who finished the second half with a record of 16-22. The Owlz (24-14 second half) open the playoffs at home tonight against the Ogden Raptors. The winner of that best-of-three series will face the winner of the Great Falls-Missoula series for the Pioneer League title.

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Brooks pitches I.F. past Ogden

Aaron Brooks added to his successful season while Chris Elder and Tyler Chism belted home runs, and the Idaho Falls Chukars took down the Ogden Raptors 6-2 on Saturday in front of 4,663 fans in Utah.

Brooks improved to 6-1 and lowered his earned-run average to 3.36 with another strong performance. The big right-hander allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out eight in six innings. Jonathon Dooley gave up a run but got the final nine outs to earn the save.

Elder and Chism sparked the offense, each hitting their ninth home runs of the season.

The Chukars trailed 1-0 entering the sixth, but Elder changed that with a leadoff home run. I.F. tacked on four runs in the inning, the big hit coming on Henry Moreno’s two-run double that plated Luis Piterson and Daniel Mateo.

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Chukars kick off road trip with 5-3 win

The Idaho Falls Chukars hung around long enough Monday night in Billings to pull out a win.

The Chukars scored two runs in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth to earn a 5-3 win over Billings in front of 2,426 fans.

Chukars starter Brennon Martin and Mustangs starter Tony Cingrani both pitched well and the game was tied at 1 before Billings scratched out a run in the sixth on a single, a wild pitch and two groundouts.

The Chukars took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh when Runey Davis was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and scored on Nick DelGuidice’s double. Dean Espy followed with an RBI single.

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Billings snaps I.F.’s three-game win streak

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ chase for a playoff spot hit a speed bump Wednesday night.

The Chukars outhit and outpitched the Billings Mustangs, but sloppy defense and a lack of timely hitting cost Idaho Falls in a 6-3 loss in front of 1,797 fans at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars were coming off a three-game winning streak and had climbed to within three games of Pioneer League South Division leaders Orem and Casper. The loss dropped the Chukars to 7-10 in the second half, but they got some help Wednesday when Casper (10-7) and Orem both lost.

Wednesday was a game of missed opportunities for the Chukars. Billings built a 3-0 lead after two innings, scoring two unearned runs in the second when I.F. second baseman Luis Piterson booted what would have been the final out. Spencer Dickinson followed with an RBI double.

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Chukars pound Mustangs

The Idaho Falls Chukars made the Billings Mustangs pay for every mistake they made Monday night.

The Chukars took advantage of six Mustangs’ errors and turned four double plays to earn a 13-2 win in front of 3,510 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Idaho Falls kicked off a week-long homestand against Billings and Great Falls with a bang, thanks in large part to the Mustangs’ sloppy play.

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