Author: Michael Lycklama

Second inning trouble again for I.F.

The second inning doomed the Idaho Falls Chukars for the second night in a row.

A night after scoring five runs in the top of the second, the Orem Owlz racked up seven runs in the top of the second Thursday and rode the early lead to a 12-4 victory at Melaleuca Field.

A lack of control and walks from starting pitcher Tyler Mack sunk the Chukars (19-21 overall, 0-2 second half) on Wednesday. On Thursday, Idaho Falls starting pitcher Jake Junis found the zone. But he found too much of it and Orem (22-18, 2-0) pummelled his offerings.

Cal Towey led off the second with a walk. Brandon Bayardi and Eric Aguilera followed with back-to-back doubles. Mark Shannon laced a two-run single into right field, and then Julio Concepcion and Zac Livingston cranked back-to-back home runs to left field for a 6-0 lead.

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Chukars add Cy Young winner’s son

Infielder Logan Davis joined the Chukars on Thursday and will start at second base.

The 2013 undrafted free agent is the son of Mark Davis, who won the Cy Young with the San Diego Padres in 1989. Mark Davis is also the Royals’ minor league pitching coordinator.

He hit .244 for the rookie-level Arizona Royals this summer with one triple, one RBI and six stolen bases in 25 games.

One hit enough for Owlz to beat I.F.

Chukars starting pitcher Tyler Mack delivers a pitch Wednesday's game against the Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field. Alex McDougall / amcdougall@postregister.com

One hit.

That’s all the Orem Owlz need Wednesday as they downed the Idaho Falls Chukars 9-3 at Melaleuca Field.

Chukars starting pitcher Tyler Mack battled his command all night and exited after 1 1/3 innings with five walks and a hit batter to his name. He led off the second inning with three straight walks to load the bases, and Orem catcher Ryan Dalton opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Two pitches later, Mack plunked Orem leadoff hitter Chad Hinshaw to reload the bases. Chukars manager Omar Ramirez had seen enough and made a move.

“I was thinking too much,” Mack said. “The more you think in this game, the more it’s going to eat you alive. I was a pretty good example of what happens.

“You can’t worry about the last pitch. You can only worry about the next pitch. I think that got way into my head.”

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Defense costs Chukars in first-half finale

The Idaho Falls Chukars and the Orem Owlz batted through seven innings. Then came the eighth.

Orem batted around in the frame and plated five runs, blowing open a tight game and allowing the Owlz to close out the first half of the Pioneer League season with a 10-5 victory at Melaleuca Field.

The eighth inning started innocently enough with Chukars reliever Josiel Martinez inducing a groundout to shortstop on the second pitch of the inning. But Orem first baseman Eric Aguilera followed with a solo home run over the left-center field fence and the next three Owlz singled. Martinez then plunked Mark Shannon and Chukars right fielder Alexis Rivera dropped a bases-loaded, lazy fly ball in right field.

Add in a walk and a throwing error, and eight straight Orem batters reached base to give Orem a comfortable lead after Martinez recorded the first out.

“We should have made a couple plays,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “A ground ball that should have been an easy double play that goes through, a fly ball to right field, we dropped it. Like i told these guys – if you want to make a run for the playoffs in the second half, you’ve got to take care of the baseball.”

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Bullpen secures Chukars’ move above .500

The Chukars’ bullpen came to the rescue Monday night, snuffing out Orem rallies in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve an 8-7 win for Idaho Falls at Melaleuca Field.

Orem put the go-ahead run in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings. But relievers Andrew Brockett and Julio Rodriguez wormed their way out of inherited jams to move the Chukars (19-18) over .500 for the first time since a 1-0 start to the season.

Idaho Falls nursed a 7-6 lead entering the eighth inning before an error extended the inning and Orem placed runners on second and third base with two out. Brockett relieved Chukars pitcher Brent Bonvillain to set up a righty-righty matchup for Idaho Falls against Orem pinch hitter Ryan Dalton.

Brockett struck out Dalton on a breaking ball outside and in the dirt. But he worked himself into his own trouble in the ninth and Orem cut the lead to one again.

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Chukars overtake Rockies in 9th again

The Idaho Falls Chukars overtook Grand Junction in the ninth inning for the second day in a row Sunday, scoring a 3-2 victory in Grand Junction.

Tied at 2-2 entering the ninth inning, second baseman Carlos Garcia reached base with a one-out, bunt single. Garcia then stole second base to put himself in scoring position and scored on Beau Maggi’s pinch-hit double off the left-field wall.

Designated hitter Zane Evans spotted the Chukars an early lead when he ripped a two-out, two-run home run to left field in the first inning. Grand Junction tied the game in the fifth with a Robbie Perkins RBI single and Wesley Jones’ fielder’s choice. But relievers Jon Fitzsimmons and Glenn Sparkman kept the Rockies, who at 21-15 have already clinched the South Division’s first half title, off the scoreboard the rest of the night.

The victory improves the Chukars to 18-18, reaching the .500 mark for the first time since the club started the season 1-1. Idaho Falls returns home to Melaleuca Field for a four-game series with the Orem Owlz starting Monday. The first two games wrap up the first half of the season and the second half kicks off Wednesday.

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Cuckovich promoted to Low-A

The Kansas City Royals promoted Chukars utility player Nick Cuckovich to its Low-A affiliate in Lexington, Kent., late Tuesday.

Cuckovich led the Chukars in RBIs last season but saw limited playing time in his second stint in Idaho Falls. He hit .226 with six doubles and five steals in 16 games this summer.

He joins reliever Zeb Sneed, promoted earlier Tuesday, as Chukars headed up to the next level on the Royals’ organizational ladder.

Chukars knock around Missoula’s ace

Chukars shortstop Humberto Arteaga prepares to field a ground ball during Tuesday's game against the Missoula Osprey. Alex McDougall / amcdougall@postregister.com

Missoula starting pitcher Felipe Perez entered Tuesday as one of the top pitchers in the Pioneer League. But the Chukars roughed him up in a 12-7 victory at Melaleuca Field, securing their ninth win in the past 12 games.

Perez led the league in innings pitched, WHIP and batting average against entering Tuesday, and his ERA of 2.47 stood as second best. The workhorse owned two complete games and one complete-game shutout in six starts, matching the league’s totals in both categories for the past two years combined.

He held the Chukars (15-17) off the scoreboard through two efficient innings. But Idaho Falls found success in its second trip through the lineup and tagged the 19-year-old right-hander for season highs in hits (10) and runs (10) before he exited in the fifth inning with his shortest outing of the year.

Chukars designated hitter Frank Schwindel said the team noticed Perez bounced a couple curveballs in the dirt early and switched to sitting on his two-seam fastball.

“As we’ve seen throughout the league, he’s been effective,” Schwindel said. “We just tried to get good pitches to hit early in the count. We jumped a couple fastballs and did pretty well tonight.”

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Twin Falls grad promoted to Lexington

The Kansas City Royals promoted reliever Zeb Sneed to its Low-A affiliate in Lexington, Kent., on Tuesday. The 2009 Twin Falls High School graduate owned a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched this summer. He appeared in eight games in his second season in Idaho Falls and ranked second in the league in strikeout rate (13.5 per nine innings).

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Brockett, the Royals 22nd-round pick in June, joins the team today as Sneed’s replacement. Brockett has appeared in eight games in the Arizona League this summer and sports a 1.04 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk in 8 2/3 innings.