Chukars drop third straight; Melaleuca Field receives Baseball Digest honor

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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/.

Chukars-Owlz postponed due to rain; Royals extend Player Development Contract

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The Idaho Falls Chukars just can’t escape the rain.

The Chukars, who battled wet weather on each day of its four-game homestand last week, had another game wiped out by the elements Saturday in Orem, Utah.

The Orem area got hit hard by rain Friday, and the field at Brent Brown Ballpark was still unplayable Saturday afternoon, forcing the postponement of Saturday night’s game at around 4 p.m.

The Chukars and Owlz will play their scheduled game at 4 p.m. today, then make up Saturday’s game as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Both of those games will be seven-inning affairs.

This is the seventh postponed game for the Chukars this season after having no rainouts a year ago.

Idaho Falls trails South Division leader Grand Junction by three games with 14 games remaining. The Chukars and Owlz wrap up their four-game series Tuesday, and before the teams head to Melaleuca Field to begin a four-game series Wednesday.

Also Saturday, the Kansas City Royals extended their Player Development Contract with the Idaho Falls Chukars through the 2016 season. The Chukars have been affiliated with the Royals since 2004.

“We are excited to extend our contracts with Burlington, Idaho Falls, Lexington (through 2018) and Wilmington for an additional two years,” Royals Director of Player Development Scott Sharp said in a news release. “We feel these cities and facilities are some of the best in all of minor league baseball and provide us a great advantage in developing the Royals of the future.”

Tuesday’s links and notes