Category: Game recap

Chukars stay tied for first with 9-2 win over Brewers

Sanchez
Sanchez

Errors and poor pitching led to the Idaho Falls Chukars’ late-inning collapse on Friday. So how did they respond? By committing zero errors and shutting down the Helena Brewers’ lineup.

I.F.’s lineup was its usual self, as well. All of those ingredients added up to a 9-2 win over Helena on Saturday night at Kindrick Legion Field. The victory kept the Chukars tied with Orem for first place in the Pioneer League South standings.

Four-score

In one inning, I.F.’s lineup turned a pitchers’ dual into a comfortable lead. One inning later, the game became a laugher.

The Chukars and Brewers were tied at 1-1 heading into the fifth. Ryan Dale reached on an error to start the inning, sparking a four-run rally.

Dale led off the sixth with a walk, which sparked another four-run inning.

Catcher MJ Sanchez, shortstop Ricky Aracena and right fielder Yeison Melo recorded a hit in both the fifth and sixth. Sanchez provided the only extra-base hit a double in the two frames, and he finished the game 3 for 4.

The Chukars surrendered a 6-1 lead the night before. 9-1 proved too much for Helena to overcome, thanks in large part to their starting pitcher.

Sneaky Arnaldo

Hernandez
Hernandez

Chukars right-hander Arnaldo Hernandez has a quick pickoff move to first base that has sniped baserunners all season. Hernandez picked off another one Saturday, upping his season total to four.

The way he was pitching Saturday, Helena couldn’t afford to lose baserunners. Hernandez went 5.2 innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. It was tied for his longest start of the season.

Two-team race

The Ogden Raptors are four games back of the Chukars and Owlz, but their chances of catching either team in the first half ended Saturday with a loss. The South division has two teams vying for the first half title, and four games remain.

I.F. (20-14) wraps up its four-game series at Helena (13-21) on Sunday and travels to Missoula (13-21) for three games starting Monday.

Orem, meanwhile, wraps up its four-game home series with Great Falls (18-16) on Sunday. The Owlz (20-14) then host Billings (21-13) for a three-game set starting Monday.

Billings and Great Falls are the only teams still breathing in the North division, but the Mustangs can clinch the first half title on Sunday with a win and a Voyagers loss.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Arnaldo Hernandez

Five I.F. batters recorded at least two hits, but Hernandez kept the Chukars in the game and clamped down after his lineups two big innings.

Up next

First pitch between the Chukars and Brewers Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Igol Feliz gets the start for I.F. against fellow righty Karsen Lindell.

Chukars fall apart late, lose to Helena 8-7

Chukars shortstop Ricky Aracena turns a double play in the bottom of the second inning against the Helena Brewers Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Chukars shortstop Ricky Aracena turns a double play in the bottom of the second inning against the Helena Brewers Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

For seven innings, the Idaho Falls Chukars looked liked they’d earn a clean, low-scoring win. But their bad habits returned in the final three frames.

I.F. surrendered a five-run lead and lost 8-7 in 10 innings to the Helena Brewers on Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. The Chukars are now 4-10 on the road and 4-8 in one-run games (1-7 in one-run games on the road).

Bullpen, defense blow it

Matt Portland had his longest, most effective start of the season Friday. And he became a footnote.

The Chukars left-hander went 6.1 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. I.F. led 6-2 when he exited the game.

Portland’s replacement, Nicholas Andros, gave up a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth. A lead that was 6-1 after the top of the seventh had shrunk to one.

An I.F. run in the top of the ninth calmed the tide, and Jason Freeman recorded two outs with a runner on second base in the bottom half. That runner reached base on a Ricky Aracena error an omen for that inning.

Aracena committed a throwing error at shortstop on the next play. The subsequent batter, Gilbert Lara, hit a fly ball to center fielder Rudy Martin. He dropped it, allowing a run to score and giving Helena runners at second and third.

Drew Milligan relieved Freeman and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. The second batter, Weston Wilson, lined a single to left field. The game seemed finished, but Nick Heath fired a perfect throw home to punch out Lara and send the game to extra innings tied 7-7.

Heath’s heroics were short-lived. In the bottom of the 10th, Ronnie Gideon hit a one-out double and advanced to third base on a Heath error. Nathan Rodriguez came up next and lined a single right in front of Heath to end the game.

The Chukars committed one error going into the ninth inning. They finished the game with five errors.

Patient birds

Other than Portland, the main bright spot for I.F. on Friday was its plate discipline.

The Chukars drew eight walks, including five in the second inning. Those five bases on balls and an Aracena double led to a four-run inning.

Eight is the second-most walks I.F. has drawn in a game this season. The Chukars walked nine times against Ogden in the season-opener.

Player of the game

Brewers first baseman Ronnie Gideon

Several Helena batters had big games, but only Gideon reached base four times. He went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk.

Up next

The Chukars (19-14) and Brewers (13-20) reconvene at Kindrick Legion Field at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. I.F. righty Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to start against Helena lefty Cameron Roegner.

Errors, hard-hit outs doom Chukars in 4-3 loss to Brewers

chukars-logo-125x125

The Idaho Falls Chukars returned from another prosperous homestand with a low-scoring, error-ridden road loss. Story of their season.

Idaho Falls threatened late but fell to the Helena Brewers 4-3 on Thursday at Kindrick Legion Field. Orem beat Great Falls 5-3, so the Owlz and Chukars are now tied for first place in the Pioneer League South Division with six games remaining in the first half.

Road woes continue

The Chukars have won 15 of their 19 home games this season. They would have a comfortable division lead if they were merely average on the road. Instead, I.F.’s road record is 4-9 following Thursday’s loss.

The Chukars, however, have a run differential of zero on the road. Teams with zero run differentials generally sit around .500, since close games are so variant. I.F. is 4-7 in one-run games this season, and is 1-6 on the road. A little more luck and the Chukars’ would be around .500 in away games.

The Chukars also haven’t been the same offensive team away from Melaleuca Field. They average 9.0 runs per game at home and just 6.6 on the road.

The first half concludes at the end of I.F.’s current road trip, so the Chukars will need to reverse their road fortune if they want to win the first half title.

Contact lens

The Chukars scored three runs on nine hits Thursday. Those results constitute an underperformance on offense, but they obscure the number of hard-hit balls that found gloves.

I.F. batters hit seven line-outs, according to MiLB.com’s play-by-play of the game, and those don’t include sharp groundouts or deep fly balls.

Many factors have contributed to I.F.’s 1-6 road record in one-run games. Compilations of hard-hit outs have exacerbated the losing.

Dark and full of errors

I.F. has yet to put together a long stretch of low-error games this season.

The Chukars committed four more Thursday, increasing their Pioneer League-leading total to 80 (or 2.5 per game). The league’s second-most error-prone team is Ogden, and it has committed only 56 (1.8 per game) this summer.

Player of the game

Brewers starting pitcher Jordan Desguin

If the Chukars were going to score, Desguin wasn’t going to help them out. The right-hander threw 48 of his 69 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk anyone. He only allowed four hits and struck out four in six innings, allowing one earned run.

Up next

Lefty Matt Portland is scheduled to get the start for the Chukars (19-13) against righty Nash Walters of the Brewers (12-20). First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. back at Kindrick Legion Field.

Chukars turn on the power late, beat Osprey 6-5

Chukars infielders David Edwards (left) and Manny Olloque (right) high-five their teammates after Idaho Falls’ 6-5 win over Missoula on Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Chukars infielders David Edwards (left) and Manny Olloque (right) high-five their teammates after Idaho Falls’ 6-5 win over Missoula on Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ lineup might take a while to wake up, but it never sleepwalks through a game.

That was the case again Tuesday. The Chukars didn’t record a baserunner through three innings, and they were hitless through four. No matter. They finished with 10 hits and a 6-5 win over the Missoula Osprey Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. I.F. now occupies first place in the Pioneer League South by itself.

Power out, power in

First pitch of Tuesday’s game was delayed 15 minutes due to a power outage that affected the entire region. Everything returned back to normal at Melaleuca Field around 6:45 p.m., except for the Chukars’ offense.

The team that averaged 8.3 runs on 10.9 hits per game heading into Tuesday was shut down the first four innings by right-hander Chester Pimentel. Not only did he hold I.F. hitless for four innings, he struck out six batters over that span.

Then the Chukars’ lights turned on.

Five singles led to three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Chukars suddenly had a two-run lead. Before that inning, it was easy to forget that Alex Luna I.F.’s best starting pitcher was also pitching a gem. He finished with three earned runs in 5.2 innings, but he only allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight.

The Osprey regained the lead against Luna and Brian Bayliss in the top of the sixth, but a 5-3 deficit to the Chukars is like a summit reachable by wheelchair.

Sure enough, the Chukars scored once in the bottom of the sixth to inch closer. Meibrys Viloria led off the bottom of the eighth, and the outcome of his at-bat felt comically predicable. Viloria skied a 400-plus-foot home run to right field. The next batter, David Edwards, launched a pitch the opposite way over the left field wall to give I.F. the lead for good.

“You play to the last out of the ballgame, and that’s kind of the attitude these guys have taken,” Chukars pitching coach Andre David said. “That’s a good learning experience for them as they move up, to understand that you’re competing every pitch. That’s how you get better, is to be able to compete through the tough times as well as the good times.”

The Chukars have now won five games this season in which they trailed in the seventh inning or later. They’re also 15-4 at home.

Alone at the top

I.F.’s win, coupled with Orem’s 5-3 loss to Billings, vaulted the Chukars into first place alone in the South Division. I.F. has a 19-12 record with seven games left in the first half.

The Chukars were also at home on July 19 last year for their 31st game. They beat Billings 4-2 in 11 innings that night to improve to 11-20, and they finished the first half 13-25.

Melo named player of the week

Chukars outfielder Yeison Melo hit .520 last week, making him an easy choice for the Pioneer League player of the week.

From July 11 to 17, Melo went 13 for 25 with a double, triple and his first two home runs of the season.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

Viloria might cool down this season, but don’t hold your breath. The catcher went 3 for 4 with key hits: the game-tying home run and an RBI single in the sixth to cut Missoula’s lead to 5-4.

Viloria is now batting .472 in 89 at-bats this season.

Up next

The Chukars get Wednesday off and begin an eight-day road trip on Thursday at Helena (11-20). Jace Vines is scheduled to take on fellow right-hander Jordan Desguin in game one of the four-game series.

Chukars shine in speedy 7-0 win over Osprey

Machado
Machado

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 claw back but lose heartbreaker to Osprey

Missoula catcher Andy Yerzy tags out Manny Olloque for the second out of the ninth inning Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The play preserved Missoula’s 12-11 lead, and the Osprey closed the game out a batter later. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Missoula catcher Andy Yerzy tags out Manny Olloque for the second out of the ninth inning Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The play preserved Missoula’s 12-11 lead, and the Osprey closed the game out a batter later. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

With one throw, Meibrys Viloria went from hero to afterthought.

The new hero was Missoula Osprey center fielder Billy Endris, who made a game-saving throw in the ninth inning. Missoula prevailed 12-11 over the Idaho Falls Chukars thanks in large part to Endris’ throw, but it was hardly the only momentous play of Saturday’s game at Melaleuca Field.

Billy’s got a gun

Manny Olloque led off the bottom of the ninth inning with an infield single and moved to second on a Yeison Melo bunt. Viloria, the Pioneer League’s best hitter this season, came up next and smacked a single up the middle. Chukars manager Justin Gemoll waved Olloque home.

Endris scooped up the sharp single, gathered and fired a perfect one-hopper to catcher Andy Yerzy. The play was close, but Yerzy clearly tagged Olloque before the Chukars third baseman touched home plate.

Missoula exhaled an at-bat later when David Edwards flew out to left field to end the game.

Chukars refuse to die

As thrilling as Endris’ throw was, Missoula’s pitching staff is kicking itself for letting the game come down to that play.

The Osprey took a 5-2 lead through four innings, an 8-4 lead in the top of the sixth and an 11-7 lead in the middle of the eighth. They were frankly outplaying the Chukars in every area, but I.F. kept lingering due to its explosive bats. In the bottom of the eighth, the Chukars pounced.

I.F. was down 11-8 with two outs and runners on the corners when Rudy Martin stepped to the plate. In an 0-1 count, the left-handed Martin drove a fastball the opposite way. It carried all the way to the video board, 381 feet away, for a game-tying home run. It was Martin’s first home run this season and his second in his two-year minor league career.

Wild night

Chukars reliever Jason Freeman threw three wild pitches Saturday night, and one too many.

In the top of the ninth, Freeman allowed a leadoff double to Eudy Ramos, who reached third base with two outs. With Logan Soole batting, Freeman threw a wild pitch that allowed Ramos to score easily.

The run turned out to be the game-winner.

Player of the game

Osprey first baseman Tanner Hill

In a game full of home runs, Hill is an easy choice for this award. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder hit two home runs, the first of his 15 game-old professional career. He added a double and a single to finish 4 for 4.

Up next

The Chukars (16-12) and Osprey (12-16) reconvene at Melaleuca Field on Sunday at 4 p.m. Igol Feliz is scheduled to get the start against fellow righty Connor Grey.

Chukars cruise 9-2 with World Series trophy at Melaleuca Field

 

Wendy Barckholtz takes a photograph of her children Zane, 13, and Mallory, 8, along with the World Series Trophy on display at Melaleuca Field on Friday evening. The family came from Buhl to watch the Chukars play. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Wendy Barckholtz takes a photograph of her children Zane, 13, and Mallory, 8, along with the World Series Trophy on display at Melaleuca Field on Friday evening. The family came from Buhl to watch the Chukars play. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Curt Nelson “woke up” the 2015 World Series trophy at 6 a.m. on Friday.

Nelson, the director of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame, put the trophy in a case and wheeled it out of Kauffman Stadium. The two headed to Kansas City International Airport, where they caught a flight to Denver at 9 a.m. From Denver, Nelson and the Commissioner’s Trophy flew to Idaho Falls.

The trophy’s final destination was Melaleuca Field, where it was on display during the Idaho Falls Chukars’ 9-2 win over the Helena Brewers Friday night. It was the first visit to I.F. in the trophy’s 49-year history.

Trophy life

The Commissioner’s Trophy has now visited five of Kansas City’s six minor league affiliates (the other Rookie-level team, Burlington, will get the trophy in August). These visits must work around the Royals’ schedule because the trophy is displayed for all 81 games in Kansas City. The Chukars got an opening this weekend with the Royals playing in Detroit.

The World Series Championship trophy is on display at Melaleuca Field. The trophy is being taken to all the Kansas City Royals affiliate team sites. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
The World Series Championship trophy is on display at Melaleuca Field. The trophy is being taken to all the Kansas City Royals affiliate team sites. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Nelson flew coach on his trip to Idaho Falls. Sitting next to him was the trophy, with a seat belt around its base and everything. Passengers gawked.

“The question I get most often is, “Is that the real one?” Nelson said.

Nelson handles the trophy with white gloves, but he doesn’t worry about the trophy — which cost tens of thousands of dollars to make — getting broken or stolen. In fact, the trophy sat on a plastic table and was not covered as fans took photos with it.

“I try not to get too nervous,” he said. “I have to remind myself to be careful with it.”

The trophy will also be displayed during Saturday’s game, and it will fly back to Kansas City on Sunday morning.

Swept away

Many I.F. players saw the Commissioner’s Trophy in person for the first time. An easy narrative would be to credit the trophy — and the 3,280 fans that came to see it — for I.F.’s dominant win.

Helena’s Ronnie Gideon just makes it to second base as Idaho Falls’ Angelo Castellano fields the ball during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Helena’s Ronnie Gideon just makes it to second base as Idaho Falls’ Angelo Castellano fields the ball during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

But the Chukars played like this well before the trophy arrived. Friday’s win completed a three-game sweep and increased their winning streak to four. I.F. won all four games by at least six runs.

“For those guys, it’s good to actually see (the trophy),” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said of his players. “It shows them what they’re working for, the ultimate goal of winning a world championship. I don’t know if it had any effect on our game or not. These guys have been playing hard since we got them.”

Everything was firing on Friday. Matt Portland had a no-hitter through four, the defense made few mistakes and every batter recorded a hit. Luke Willis and David Edwards each hit their third home runs of the season, and Yeison Melo hit his first — a 428-foot, three-run blast in the fourth.

“I feel comfortable hitting the ball right now,” Melo said through translator Ramon Castro, I.F.’s bench coach.

A different World Series celebration

The Chukars’ pitching coach Friday was not Jeff Suppan. In his stead was Royals minor league pitching coordinator Larry Carter.

Suppan is visiting St. Louis this weekend for a reunion with his former teammates on the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Suppan started game four of that World Series, allowing three earned runs in six innings. The Cardinals won that game 5-4 and closed out the series a game later.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Matt Portland

The left-hander was literally unhittable for the first four innings. He struggled in the fifth, allowing two runs on Helena’s only three hits of the game.

Overall, Portland allowed two earned runs with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Up next

The Chukars (16-11) begin a four-game series against the Missoula Osprey (11-16) at 7:15 p.m. Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to start for I.F.

Edwards powers Chukars to a 9-3 win over Helena

Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman David Edwards connects on a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman David Edwards connects on a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

David Edwards had never played first base until this season with the Idaho Falls Chukars. But the 23-year-old has looked comfortable at the lukewarm corner, and his bat has not suffered.

Edwards went 3 for 4 with three doubles while playing first base for the Chukars in their 9-3 win over the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. Players like Meibrys Viloria and Yeison Melo have obscured the solid numbers posted by the versatile Edwards.

Gluten-free power

David Edwards has been saddled with a gluten intolerance his entire life, but he didn’t realize its magnitude until college.

One day at Loyola Marymount University, Edwards decided to drink a beer. It didn’t take long for his body to react. Shortly after downing the beer, his throat closed up.

“Ever since then, I’ve been avoiding gluten,” he said.

Edwards wishes he could drink beer, eat cake or consume so many gluten-heavy types of food. But eliminating gluten has cleared up his skin (gluten caused acne and other skin issues as a child, he said) and led to a healthier diet.

“It keeps you away from the junk food,” Edwards said.

It’s hard to measure how much his diet has helped him with baseball, but he’s played well in his first professional season. Edwards has mostly played second and third base, but Colton Frabasilio’s call-up to Lexington left Ryan Dale as the only first baseman. So Edwards stepped in as a second option.

Wherever he’s played, he’s hit. Thursday’s performance increased his batting average to .288 and his OPS to .829.

Close calls in fifth

The Chukars scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Helena doesn’t believe they should have scored any.

The score was tied at 3-3. With two outs and runners on the corners, I.F. third baseman Manny Olloque pulled a ground ball into the hole. Shortstop Trevor Morrison made a diving stop and fired a one-hopper to first base. The play was close, and base umpire Teagan Smith ruled Olloque safe. Nestor Corredor argued the call that put I.F. up 4-3.

Corredor came back out to argue a batter later. With a 1-2 count, Chukars right fielder Yeison Melo appeared to swing and miss on a pitch the catcher dropped. But home plate umpire Conner Culhane said it was a foul tip. Melo hit an RBI single two pitches later, and the Chukars pulled away two innings later.

E-none

For a while, Chukar wins almost felt dependent on fielding errors.

I.F. won five of six games last homestand despite committing 27 errors (4.5 per game). The Chukars only committed 12 errors on their subsequent six-game road trip, but their combined record in Ogden and Orem was 2-4.

The correlation between errors and wins hardly meant causation, as I.F. has illustrated these last two games. The Chukars committed one error in Wednesday’s 8-2 win and none on Thursday. The defense still made mistakes that didn’t place numbers under the ‘E’ on the scoreboard, but the Chukars have reduced the inexcusable miscues: missed cut-off men, booted ground balls, catcher throws into center field, etc.

The Chukars still lead the Pioneer League in errors by a mile (67 total, which is 20 more then the next most error-prone team). The gap is closing, however, which will only benefit I.F. going forward.

Player of the game

Chukars first baseman David Edwards

Three doubles in a game will top just about any performance.

Up next

The Chukars (15-11) and Brewers (10-16) return to Melaleuca Field on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. I.F. lefty Matt Portland will start against righty Wuilder Rodriguez.

Chukars’ home prosperity continues with 8-2 win

Luna
Luna

After a week away from Melaleuca Field, the Idaho Falls Chukars looked revitalized Wednesday.

The offense was its usual destructive self, the defense was crisp and the pitching was stingy. It was the team road crowds have rarely seen and I.F. crowds have grown accustomed to.

In the end, the Chukars beat the Helena Brewers 8-2.

Home cooking

A team succeeding at home isn’t news, but the Chukars have been especially potent at Melaleuca Field and lackluster on the road.

Wednesday’s win improved I.F.’s home record to 10-3, compared to 4-8 on the road. The Chukars have a 32-run differential at home, while their road differential is minus-1.

I.F.’s success this season has sprung from its bats, which delivered again on Wednesday.

The Chukars drew four walks and piled up 15 hits, including three that went for extra bases. Designated hitter Yeison Melo went 3 for 5 with a triple, while left fielder Luke Willis, catcher Meibrys Viloria, center fielder Rudy Martin and second baseman Jordan Ebert each added two hits.

The defense only committed one error and made multiple highlight plays, such as Ebert’s leaping catch that prevented a run and began an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning.

Alex Luna, Sam Selman and Christian Flecha fell into some holes but clamped down whenever Helena smelled a rally.

Olloque’s scare

Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque was absent from the lineup Wednesday because he was involved in a car accident before the game.

One of I.F.’s bat boys was driving the car, and Olloque said the other driver was at fault. The front of the bat boy’s car was smashed and the airbags inflated on impact, but none of the passengers were seriously hurt.

“Luckily, we were wearing our seat belts,” Olloque said.

The airbags left lingering pain in Olloque’s chest, which led the Chukars’ coaching staff to hold him out of Wednesday’s game. Olloque believed he could have played, and he said he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game.

Roster moves

The Chukars made several roster changes on Wednesday.

Tanner Stanley (.337 average, .883 OPS in 89 at-bats for I.F.) moved up to Single-A Lexington. Fellow outfielder Leland Clemmons (5 for 10 with a home run for I.F.) was released.

The Chukars also added three players from the Arizona League: Ebert, Martin and right-handed pitcher Paul Young. Martin played two games for the Chukars last season.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Alex Luna

Luna got into some hairy jams thanks to nine hits allowed, but he escaped them all. Throwing strikes was a main key to his success. He struck out five and walked none on 55 strikes against 25 balls.

Luna has allowed two earned runs in his last three starts (17.2 total innings). His season ERA is now 2.08, and he’s struck out 29 while walking six.

Up next

Jace Vines will start for the Chukars (14-11) against fellow righty Rodrigo Benoit. First pitch against the Brewers (10-15) is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Chukars strike late, beat Owlz 10-4

Viloria
Viloria

The Idaho Falls Chukars couldn’t hold a pair of one-run leads on Monday. A six-run advantage, however, proved too big to squander.

The Chukars scored eight runs in the final two innings to beat the Orem Owlz 10-4 in Orem, Utah. I.F. exited the four-game series with a split and finished the road trip with a 2-4 record.

Late-inning flurries

Monday’s game was oddly low-scoring for six and a half innings. But the teams that sit No. 1 (I.F.) and No. 2 (Orem) in the Pioneer League in runs woke up toward the end.

Orem scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 4-2 lead. In the top of the eighth, Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria hit an RBI triple and scored a batter later to tie it up at 4-4.

The game remained that score going into the ninth inning. With one out, designated hitter Luke Willis launched a solo home run to give I.F. the lead back. The Chukars scored five more runs on five hits, all with two outs, to blow the game open.

Another good start for Machado

Andres Machado gave up 11 earned runs on 20 hits in his first 13 innings pitched for I.F. this season. In his fourth start last week, Machado pitched four scoreless frames and struck out seven.

Machado now has a positive streak going after Monday’s performance. The right-hander gave up one earned run on four hits, a walk and six strikeouts in five innings against the Owlz. His ERA improved to 4.91, and he’s struck out 21 this season while walking four.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

Viloria went into Monday’s game leading the Pioneer League in batting average, and he added to it on Monday. Viloria went 2 for 3 with a triple and his league-leading 14th double, upping his average to .471. He also drew two walks, increasing his league-leading on-base percentage to .519. Last but not least, Viloria leads the league in slugging percentage (.886) by more than 200 points.

Up next

The Chukars (13-11), like the rest of the Pioneer League, have Tuesday off. Alex Luna is scheduled to pitch against Cameron Roegner on Wednesday, when the Chukars take on the Helena Brewers for the first time all season. First pitch at Melaleuca Field is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Sunday’s game

Viloria did everything he could, but the Chukars couldn’t hold off the Owlz in a back-and-forth 10-9 loss at Orem.

Viloria went 5 for 5 with a solo home run that traveled 452 feet, according to the Chukars.

The homer sparked a four-run second inning, giving I.F. a 5-0 lead. But Orem chipped away and took a 7-6 lead in the sixth inning. The Owlz went ahead 9-6 after a two-run eighth.

The Chukars had another rally in them. Four singles and an error led to three runs for I.F. in the top of the ninth. Nick Heath (3 for 5) topped off the scoring with an RBI single.

Orem responded against Enmanuel Camacho in the bottom of the final inning.

Zach Gibbons (4 for 5) reached on a Ricky Aracena error to start the ninth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Brennan Morgan (2 for 2) singled to right to drive in Gibbons and give the Owlz a walk-off win.