Saturday’s postgame fireworks were fitting in what turned out to be an explosive game between the Grand Junction Rockies and Idaho Falls Chukars.
The Rockies (29-39, 8-22) cut into a big Chukars lead with six runs in the top of the ninth, but Idaho Falls ended the comeback bid for a 10-7 rollercoaster win before a lively crowd of 3,351 at Melaleuca Field.
The win, combined with Orem’s 9-1 loss to Ogden, gives the Chukars (37-31, 18-12) a 21/2-game lead atop the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.
The late-game drama didn’t completely overshadow the return of Kansas City Royals first draft pick Hunter Dozier and the performance of starting pitcher Yender Caramo.
Dozier went 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs and three runs scored in his first game back in Idaho Falls since being called up to Royals affiliate Lexington Legends earlier in August. The 21-year-old hit .327 in 15 games with the Legends, which were recently eliminated from playoff contention.
“He was the leader of this team before he left and he’s gonna continue to be the leader of this team,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “He plays hard all the time. He’s an example to the players.”
Alexis Rivera had a welcoming party waiting for him in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday, complete with tackle hugs and spraying water as his teammates emptied the dugout.
Pinch running for Beau Maggi, Rivera trotted home with the winning run on a throwing error by Grand Junction starter Carlos Yan in the bottom of the ninth to give the Idaho Falls Chukars a 6-5 comeback win over the Rockies at Melaleuca Field.
The win, combined with Orem’s loss to Ogden, pushed the Chukars into first place in the Pioneer League’s South Division second-half standings.
The Chukars (35-30, 16-11) trailed 5-0 early before scoring five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game, setting up the bottom-of-the-ninth heroics.
“It was like a playoff atmosphere,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “I told them just the other night — every game is like a playoff game. Great comeback win.”
At Grand Junction, Colo., the Grand Junction Rockies pitching staff made the Chukars look foolish Thursday.
Not only did they rack up 13 strikeouts in a 4-1 win, but they induced countless hapless swings from Idaho Falls hitters and held the Chukars to season lows in runs (one) and hits (four).
The loss drops the Chukars to 9-9 on the season and allowed Grand Junction (9-9) to pull even with Idaho Falls in second place in the Pioneer League’s South Division.
The Chukars’ only run was controversial. Idaho Falls loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter Sam Bates then struck out on three pitches and left fielder Ysmelin Alcantara appeared to ground into an inning-ending double play. Continue reading “Chukars strike out 13 times in 4-1 loss”→