Author: Marlowe Hereford

Chukars hold off Owlz rally for 11-8 win

At Orem, the Idaho Falls Chukars took an early lead against the Owlz and hung on later in the game for an 11-8 win.

The win moves the Chukars to 14-9 on the season and keeps them in second place in the Pioneer League South Division standings, one game back of first-place Ogden.

A wild pitch, a two-run home run by Reed Rohlman and a two-RBI single by Andres Martin gave the Chukars six runs in the fifth inning to put them ahead 9-1. The Owlz began to rally late, however, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning including two from a Kiki Menendez home run. Orem furthermore cut into the deficit with a three-run eighth inning capped off by a two-RBI single from Nonie Williams to make it 11-8 Idaho Falls. Neither team scored in the ninth inning, however, securing the win for the Chukars.

Nick Hutchins went 2 for 4 with a home run, a double, two RBIs and three runs scored, Rohlman went 2 for 5 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored and Kyle Kasser went 2 for 4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored for Idaho Falls. Jonathan Bowlan took the win on the mound, allowing one run (earned) on two hits while walking two and striking out six in five innings

Game two of the road series in Orem is today at 4:05 p.m.

Chukars shut out for first time this season

At Melaleuca Field, the Orem Owlz dealt the Idaho Falls Chukars their first shutout loss of the season after a big night by Mario Sanjur.

A catcher, Sanjur ended the evening 3 for 4 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored for the Owls (7-14). The Chukars (12-9) mustered six hits against Orem in a 7-0 loss and left nine on base.

The Owlz, who are in fourth in the Pioneer League South Division, built a 4-0 lead through three innings thanks to RBI singles by Sanjur (two) and and Cam Williams. They stretched their lead to 7-0 after a Tim Millard home run, an RBI double by Kiki Menendez and an RBI double by Sanjur.

Reed Rohlman went 2 for 3 and Carlos Diaz went 2 for 4 to lead the Chukars at the plate. Idaho Falls recorded no extra base hits in Thursday’s contest.

Kris Bubic, the Kansas City Royals’ first round draft pick this year (40th overall) started on the mound for Idaho Falls and recorded the loss. He allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits while walking two and striking out one in 2.2 innings.

The Chukars remain in second place in the South Division standings through Thursday, two games behind first-place Ogden. Game three of Idaho Falls’ three-game home series with Orem is tonight at 7:15 p.m. at Melaleuca Field.

Ratick receives All-America honors from Sportscasters Talent Agency of America

New Idaho Falls Chukars director of broadcasting and media relations Logan Ratick is one of six college students and recent college graduates to receive one of the most prestigious national awards for collegiate broadcasting.

Ratick, who graduated earlier this month from Syracuse University, received All-America honors by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America as announced by the organization May 19. He is one of three Syracuse students to receive All-America honors. The Jim Nantz Award, which has been awarded annually since 2009 to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sportscaster, was awarded to University of Missouri junior Nate Gatter. Ratick was hired by Chukars general manager Kevin Greene in February to replace Andrew Haynes and will call home games beside John Balginy and travel to all road games solo.

The Jim Nantz Award, All-America honors, top 20 and honorable mention recipients were selected by a panel of judges including Sports Talent Agency of America CEO Jon Chelesnik, Dallas Mavericks play-by-play broadcaster Chuck Cooperstein, University of Southern California football voice Pete Arbogast, Learfield VP of Broadcast Operations Tom Boman and former Jim Nantz Award winners Alex Faust, Kevin Fitzgerald, Josh Appel, Adam Cavalier, Ross Lippman and Bill Spaulding.

Fukofuka gets throwback walk-up song, game-winning hit in 9-8 Chukars victory

Fukofuka.
Fukofuka.

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Idaho Falls Chukars outfielder Amalani Fukofuka entered Monday’s opening game of a four-game homestand against the Billings Mustangs looking for a new walk-up song.

He not only left with a throwback to walk up to, but the game-winning hit to conclude a rollercoaster 9-8 victory before 3,144 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Before his third at-bat, the opening verse to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child blared through the Melaleuca speakers. He got a single in that at-bat, followed by a single and the game-winning RBI double in his final two appearances to finish the night 3-for-5.

The outfielder said he not only enjoyed the song chosen by the guys working in the booth, but called it fitting for his name which has drawn much attention throughout the league this season.

“I started laughing when it started playing,” Fukofuka said. “I actually told one of the guys who worked here that I didn’t like my old walk-up song and I told them to just pick whatever. I’ll stick with it.”

The song seemed to do the trick, as the win put the Chukars at 13-4 in the second half of the season. It also maintained I.F.’s lead in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings to three games over the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owlz, who are both tied for second at 10-7.

It was also the latest in a recent string of rallies for the Chukars. Idaho Falls saw its 3-2 lead through two innings disappear as the Mustangs bats heated up and Chukars errors (five, all by shortstop Marten Gasparini) started taking a toll. Consecutive walks and a wild pitch by I.F. relief pitcher Brandon Thomas resulted in Ed Charlton coming home to put Billings up 7-3 entering the seventh inning stretch.

Idaho Falls responded with runs by D.J. Burt and Fukofuka in the bottom of the seventh and four runs in the bottom of the eighth, which saw five consecutive Chukars go to bat before the first out.

“They didn’t panic,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “They were trying to have good at-bats. Everyone’s been doing a good job of competing all year.”

Catcher Kyle Pollock went 2 for 4 with a two-run, 406-foot homer in the bottom of the second and Cody Jones went 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Thomas earned the win, giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and strking out one in four innings.

Idaho Falls (26-29) faces Billings (25-29) for game two tonight at 7:15 p.m.

SUNDAY’S GAME: The Chukars got a strong start from Derek Gordon and completed a three-game series sweep with a 6-5 win over Helena on Sunday at Melaleuca Field.

Gordon had a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before a Gasparini error extended the inning. Malik Collymore broke up the no-hitter with a two-run home run. Helena added two more runs in the sixth to tie the game.

The Chukars took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when Cody Jones tripled and DJ Burt walked. Both runners came home on a botched pickoff play.

Helena got a run in the eighth, but Brian Bayliss pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

Burt went 2 for 3 with three runs scored, Luis Lara was 3 for 4 and Joshua Banuelos was 2 for 4 with a run to lead the Chukars.

Chukars held to five hits in 7-3 loss at Great Falls

At Great Falls, Mont., the Great Falls Voyagers overcame five errors to hand the Idaho Falls Chukars a 7-3 loss in the first game of a three-game series Tuesday at Centene Stadium.

The Voyagers (10-6) outhit the Chukars 12-5, getting a big game from Johan Cruz (4 for 5, double, RBI, run) and Victor Velasquez (1 for 4, two-run homer).

The Chukars were the first on the scoreboard, taking a 2-0 lead after the first inning with Cody Jones scoring off an Amalani Fukofuka double and Roman Collins bringing home Fukofuka with an single.

The Voyagers erased the deficit with three runs in the bottom of the second. Joxelier Garcia hit a two-out double to score Ryan Jones and Velasquez jacked a two-run homer in the next at-bat to put Great Falls ahead 3-2.

Great Falls scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Cruz drove in Frank Califano with a double and Dante Flores scored Cruz with an RBI single in the next at-bat to extend the lead to 6-2.

The Voyagers kept the Chukars at bat until the top of the eighth, when Danny Dopico replaced Ryan Hinchley. Marten Gasparini hit a double and Kyle Pollock hit a double in the next at-bat to score Gasparini to cut the deficit to 6-3.

A walk, an error and a single set up a Dante Flores sacrifice fly that scored Califano in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-3 Great Falls.

D.J. Burt reached on a fielding error by Flores and Amalani Fukofuka walked with two outs in the top of the ninth for the Chukars, but Pedro Gonzalez struck out to end the game.

Fukofuka went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the Chukars (6-14) and Pollock went 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Chukars starting pitcher Todd Eaton took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out two in 3.1 innings.

First pitch for game two of the series is 7 p.m. tonight.

Chukars can’t follow up record night, drop final road game to Rockies

POST REGISTER

The Idaho Falls Chukars couldn’t maintain the momentum from Sunday’s record-breaking offensive outburst and fell 8-3 to the host Grand Junction Rockies on Monday.

The Chukars pounded out 28 hits in a 25-2 win over the Rockies on Sunday and had 16 Monday, but stranded 16 runners and fell to 2-6 against Grand Junction this season.

The Rockies grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryan Stephens’ RBI double to left. The Chukars tied things up in the second when Amalani Fukofuka reached on an error, advanced to third on a single and a groundout and scored on a passed ball.

Grand Junction regained the lead and some breathing room in the fifth by scoring four runs, three of them coming on Jonathan Piro’s three-run homer to right.

The Chukars added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but the Rockies put the game away with three runs in the eighth.

Idaho Falls threatened in the top of ninth, scoring twice to cut the lead to 8-5. With two on and two out, Joshua Banuelos drove a ball to right that was caught by a leaping Sam Hilliard at the wall.

Alexis Rivera continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 4 with a run. Jeckson Flores was 2 for 5 with a double and a run while Banuelos and Nick Dini each had two hits.

After a week on the road the Chukars return to Melaleuca Field today to begin a four-game series against the Ogden Raptors. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

SUNDAY’S RECAP: The Chukars set team records for runs (25) and hits (28) since becoming affiliated with the Kansas City Royals in 2004 in a 25-2 blowout win over Grand Junction.

Every batter in the I.F. lineup had at least two hits and all but one had at least three. The Chukars hit five home runs (two each by Pedro Gonzalez and Alexis Rivera) and nine extra-base hits overall.

Rivera had a huge game, going 4 for 4 with three walks, three runs and four RBIs. Gonzalez finished 4 for 5 with four runs and four RBIs while Joshua Banuelos was 3 for 6 with a double, four runs and three RBIs.

Carlos Herrera earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts in six innings.

Chukars’ skid hits four games

POST REGISTER

The Grand Junction Rockies continued their dominance over the Idaho Falls Chukars, getting a strong start from Parker French and two home runs to earn a 6-3 win in front of 1,870 fans Saturday at Sam Suplizio Field.

The Rockies improved to 5-1 against the Chukars this season.

Idaho Falls fell behind 6-1 early and saw its losing streak reach four games.

Grand Junction took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Sam Hilliard’s RBI triple to center and a fielding error by Chukars third baseman Ryan Dale.

I.F. cut the lead in half in the top of the second when Pedro Gonzalez homered over the wall in center. But Grand Junction extended the lead with four runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-run single from Daniel Suero and a solo homer from Hilliard.

That was more than enough support for French, who allowed three runs on six hits while striking out seven in 5.2 innings. Three Rockies relievers shut the door over the final 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four.

Todd Eaton took the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings. Brandon Thomas saw his ERA fall to 2.89 with three scoreless innings of relief, allowing a hit and a walk with four strikeouts.

Joshua Banuelos added a two-run home run for the Chukars in the sixth, while Brawlun Gomez was 3 for 4 and Roman Collins was 2 for 4 with a run.

Idaho Falls (3-7) and Grand Junction (7-3) play the third game of their four-game series at 6 p.m. today. The teams finish their series Monday before the Chukars return home for the first of six games at Melaleuca Field beginning Tuesday.

Chukars drop third straight; Melaleuca Field receives Baseball Digest honor

POST REGISTER

The Grand Junction Rockies and Idaho Falls Chukars, the top two hitting teams in the Pioneer League, played an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel Friday at Sam Suplizio Field.

The Rockies scored single runs in the first and sixth innings and limited the Chukars to a season-low hit total to earn a 2-0 win. Grand Junction improved to 4-1 against Idaho Falls this season.

Two nights after being held to season lows of four runs and seven hits in a loss at Ogden, the Chukars were blanked on six hits. The Chukars struck out six times and got just one runner to third base (a Kyle Pollock triple with two outs in the ninth).

The lack of offense wasted a strong night from I.F. pitchers, who allowed just one earned run on seven hits.

Starter Derek Gordon worked the first 5.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Stephen Milligan gave up two hits in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief while Tripp Davis struck out the side in the eighth.

The Chukars (3-6) and Rockies (6-3) play the second of four games at 7 tonight.

Melaleuca Field honored: Melaleuca Field earned the title Best Rookie League Ballpark in a Baseball Digest competition.

Fans voted in an 18-field March Madness-style bracket. Melaleuca Field entered as a No. 4 seed. Melaleuca took down Burlington Athletic Stadium (home of the Burlington Royals) in the fourth round and Dehler Park (home of the Billings Mustangs) in the semifinals.

In the finals, Melaleuca was the top pick of fans over Howard Johnson Field, home of the Johnson City Cardinals.

“Everyone in Idaho Falls should be proud of this competition,” Idaho Falls Chukars general manager/president Kevin Greene said in a news release. “It’s a city-owned facility, so anyone from the fans who come to the games to Melaleuca as a sponsor should take pride in this. I know I am certainly proud to come to work here every day.”

For a closer look at the competition, visit http://ballparkdigest.com/2015/06/26/best-of-the-ballparks-melaleuca-field/.

Eight-run seventh not enough for Chukars

An eight-run seventh inning that erased an early deficit wasn’t enough for the Idaho Falls Chukars in the final game of a four-game series Thursday in Ogden, Utah.

The Ogden Raptors (3-5) scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to retake the lead and pull away, handing the Chukars an 11-8 loss to split the series before 3,053 fans at Lindquist Field.

Solid pitching by the Raptors and errors put the Chukars (3-5) in a big deficit early. Ogden roughed up Idaho Falls starting pitcher Dylan Sons with back-to-back singles, a walk and an error to start to the bottom of the first, and the inning ended with a 3-0 Raptors lead.

Ogden tacked on runs in the next three innings to increase the lead to 7-0 while Raptors starting pitcher Jairo Pacheco held the Chukars to two hits through the fourth inning.

After being held to three hits through the first six innings, I.F. batted around in the top of the seventh. Luis Valenzuela hit a bases-loaded, one-out double to score Nick Dini and Ryan Dale. Two batters later, Valenzuela came home off a single from Alexis Rivera to cut Ogden’s lead to 7-3.

Returning to the top of the order, Brawlun Gomez went to bat for the second time in the inning and jacked a two-out grand slam to put the Chukars ahead 8-7.

Ogden continued the hit parade in the bottom of the seventh, as Yensys Capellan and Matt Jones scored with one out to retake a 9-8 lead. A two-out, two-RBI single by Matt Beaty drove in Kyle Garlick and
Garrett Kennedy for the eventual final runs of the game and Nick Dean was caught stealing home to end the seventh with a combined 10 hits and 12 runs.

The score remained unchanged through the eighth and ninth as pitchers locked down and the teams combined for one hit.

Gomez went 1 for 5 with a grand slam and four RBIs, Valenzuela went 2 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and a stolen base and Amalani Fukofuka went 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base for the Chukars.

Brian Bayliss, I.F.’s third pitcher of the night, took the loss, giving up four runs on three hits while walking two and striking out none in 0.2 innings.

The Chukars continue their road trip tonight by beginning a four-game stand at Grand Junction, Colo. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

I.F.’s win streak snapped with 6-4 loss to Raptors

POST REGISTER

The bats that had been so hot through the first six games of the season cooled off just enough for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Wednesday in Ogden, Utah.

The Chukars managed a season-low seven hits and coughed up an early 2-0 lead while falling to the 6-4 to the Ogden Raptors in front of 2,849 fans at Lindquist Field. The loss snapped Idaho Falls’ three-game winning streak.

The offense showed its recent form (league-leading .329 average) in the first inning, starting with a leadoff walk from Jeckson Flores (he would later score on Roman Collins’ double to right) and an RBI single from Amalani Fukofuka.

But Ogden scored three runs in the second and one in the third to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

The Chukars got an RBI double from Fukofuka in the third inning and an RBI groundout from Collins in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough.

Fukofuka continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs to lead the Chukars. Ryan Dale went 2 for 4 with a run scored while Nick Dini was 2 for 4 as the trio accounted for six of the team’s seven hits.

Hunter Haynes, making his second start this year after missing all of last season with an injury, allowed five earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three, took the loss. Matt Portland allowed one run on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts in four innings of relief.
Yensys Capellan led the Raptors offense, going 3 for 4 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs. Chris Godinez added a solo homer for Ogden.

The Chukars (3-4) and Raptors (2-5) wrap up their four-game series at 7 tonight at Lindquist Field.