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Five home runs down Chukars at Melaleuca

By Luke O’Roark |
Grand Junction just couldn’t stop hitting home runs during its sixth meeting with Idaho Falls Monday at Melalueca Field.
The Rockies beat the Chukars, 9-4, behind five home runs to end their five-game losing streak. The loss pushes the Chukars to 1-3 at home.
It was back-to-back Rockies’ home runs that gave them a five-run lead, and sent Chukars fans home early.
In the top of the ninth, Grand Junction’s Chad Spanberger hit a two-run home run to extend its already 6-4 lead. Then, Ramon Marcelino hit a home run over the center field wall the next pitch. The back-to-back hits doomed Idaho Falls late (4-4).

Robby Rinn (via Chukars Media)

“They caught a fews balls real good late in the game and the lead before (the Chukars did),” Robby Rinn said. “We’ve done it to them before and they got us back.”
The five home runs were the most the Chukars had surrendered all season. They only let up seven runs in their first seven games this season.
Grand Junction (2-6) began Monday’s game similar to Sunday’s: with a two-run lead.
Ryan Vilade hit a home run to left field to score him and Pedro Gonzalez. Shael Mendoza notched an RBI after a shot to right field scored Javier Guevara in the third.
The Chukars scratched the 3-0 deficit with RBIs from Ricky Aracena, Amalani Fukofuka and Rinn. Rinn’s RBI pushed his total to 15 — a team-high this season.
Fukofuka would break the stalemate in the bottom of the fifth with a RBI-single to left field — scoring Dalton Griffin — and giving Idaho Falls a 4-3 lead.
Grand Junction’s Nic Motley hit a home run to tie it at 4-4. It wasn’t the last one Chukars pitchers Janser Lara and Jeremy Gwinn would see fly over Melaleuca’s back wall, either.
Marcelino added another home run in the top of the eighth to give Grand Junction a 5-4 lead. It was a prelude to what would happen a inning later.
“The ball kind of flies in this league,” pitcher Michael Silva said. “When we played them, we had a bunch of home runs at their place to start of the season. They were just swinging early and they caught a lot of fastballs and it just elevated them.”

What’s important:

Similar to Saturday’s loss to Orem, Idaho Falls made solid contact with the ball Monday — it just couldn’t capitalize on it. The Rockies five home runs were the difference makers.

Players of the game:

Ricky Aracena and Robby Rinn. Two of the Chukars’ most consistent hitters continued to be consistent Monday. Aracena went 2-for-4 at the plate on the night. Rinn went 1-for-4 and an RBI.

Ricky Aracena (via Chukars Media)

Quote of the game:

“The ball kind of flies in this league. When we played them, we had a bunch of home runs at their place to start of the season. They were just swinging early and they caught a lot of fastballs and it just elevated them.” — pitcher Michael Silva


A fan caught a foul ball with a purse during the second inning.
Robby Rinn hit his 15th RBI this season during the third frame — four more than the second-best, Amalani Fukofuka (11).
Rain hit Melaleuca Field during the fourth frame, causing some fans to scatter away from their seats and others to put sweaters above the head. The rain lasted less than a minute.

Up next:

Idaho Falls (4-4) plays Grand Junction (2-6) Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. It’s the fifth game of a six-game homestand.

Sunday’s game:

Idaho Falls beat Grand Junction 13-4 Sunday at Melaleuca Field.
Chukars infielder Tyler Straub lead the way for Idaho Falls, hitting 3-for-5 at bat and notching three RBIs. He also hit his first career home run during the second inning.
First baseman Robby Rinn and catcher Darrell Miller Jr. also had notable performances Sunday. Rinn went 2-for-5 at the plate and knocked in two runs. Miller went 2-for-4 and had three RBIs. Miller has registered atleast two hits and two RBIs in all three games he’s played for the Chukars.
After surrendering two runs in the top of the first, Idaho Falls scored 11 unanswered runs in seven frames to earn its first home win of the season.
The win pushed the Chukars to 4-3 on the season. All four of their wins have come against the Rockies.

Chukars can’t register hits, lose to Owlz at Melaleuca

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register
The hits kept coming for Orem and Idaho Falls Saturday at Melaleuca Field.
Only one team used them to its advantage, however.
Orem beat Idaho Falls 9-3 behind 17 hits, pushing the Chukars to 0-2 at home this season. Orem’s Richard Fecteau lead all batters by going 3-for-5 at the plate for three RBIs. Roby Rinn lead the Chukars by going 2-for-4 at bat.
After struggling to register hits early on, the Chukars (3-3) looked to rally in the sixth inning.
With bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, and the crowd beginning to stomp on the bleachers, Logan Gray walked home and Jonathan McCray ground out scored Dalton Griffin.
The two runs wasn’t enough, though.
Similar to Friday night, the Owlz’s offense came out hot. Orem (5-1) started the game with a 2-0 lead after Brandon Sandoval and Marsh hit a double and triple, respectively. Richard Fecteau would then score Marsh with a single.
A double-play would get starting pitcher David McKay, and the Chukars, out of the early jam.
The Chukars would add a run in the bottom of the inning thanks to a Robby Rinn RBI with two outs. But the Owlz would add on two more runs in the fourth.
Five Owlz runs in the final four frames put the game away, as the Chukars couldn’t add runs after the sixth.
Simply put: anything the Chukars did offensively Saturday, the Owlz did better.

What’s important:

The Chukars made contact with the ball, but couldn’t garner runs. They left 11 runners on base and had the worst offensive outing of the season in terms of hits with eight (lowest hit count previously was 10).

Player (s) of the game:

Pitcher David McKay (0-1). McKay struck out seven batters, walked another, and allowed nine hits in five 2/3 innings pitched. His command was solid thanks to a variety of off-speed pitches and sliders, but was finally pulled after the Owlz took a 5-1 lead in the sixth inning. He finished with a 5.91 ERA.

David McKay. Photo via Idaho Falls Chukars


“I thought our kids competed well. We got some chances with guys on base. We just didn’t get the big hit and that’s just baseball. They’re not always gonna fall. The idea is to keep battling, keep putting the pressure on and if you keep doing that, and guys come through with a big hit here or there, and it’s a whole different outcome.” — Chukars’ manager Justin Gemoll


Attendance was announced as 2,879.
There was some turmoil right at the start of Saturday’s game: plate umpire Jake Bruner stopped the game after the left batter’s box was too muddy. To add on to the confusion, the Owlz changed up their lineup after they were announced to the Chukars’ broadcast booth.
The Chukars picked up another right-handed pitcher with Geoffrey Bramblett (30th round pick in 2016). Bramblett was previously in Lexington, going 3-1 in eight games pitched with the Legends. He had a 6.57 ERA. In 2016, he pitched 11 games for the Burlington Royals. The addition gives Idaho Falls its 13th pitcher this season.


Idaho Falls will play Grand Junction (1-5) Sunday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 4 p.m. The Chukars won their season-opening series against the Rockies, 3-1.

Chukars blast Rockies late, 15-5

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register
In an early back-and-forth game, the Chukars beat the Grand Junction Rockies 15-5 Wednesday night at Suplizio Field to advance to 2-1 on the year.
It was Roby Rinn who finally blew open the game for the Chukars. 
Rinn hit a 2-run home run to help the Chukars garner six runs in the top of the eighth inning. The Chukars would take a 11-5 lead thanks to Rinn’s second home run of the season.
From there, Janser Lara would shut the door on the Rockies: he struck out eight batters and only allowed two hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched. His eight strikeouts were a team-high this season.
The Chukars added on four runs in the top of the ninth behind one double-RBI, two single-RBIs and a Tyler Straub forceout.
The Rockies (1-2) only registered six hits in the loss, a far cry from their 23 hits Tuesday night. They only had three RBIs during Wednesday night’s loss.
Before Rinn’s home run, though, the Chukars offense was fairly inconsistent. Three runs in the fifth inning gave them their third lead of the game and Jeremy Gwinn’s command on the mound began to slip.
The Chukars couldn’t score a run in the sixth or seventh frame.
But Rinn came to the plate and smacked the ball to right field, giving the Chukars the lead and securing the win for Idaho Falls — which plays Grand Junction again tonight at 6:40 p.m.

Players of the game

Amalani Fukofuka, Roby Rinn and Janser Lara.
Fukofuka went 3-for-5 Wednesday at Grand Junction, hitting his third home run in three games. He had three home runs his entire 2015 campaign with the Chukars.

Chukars outfiielderAmalani Fukofuka (8) poses for a portrait during the 2017 Chukars Media Day on Saturday afternoon. The Chukars opening game is this Monday at Grand Junction Rockies.
Taylor Carpenter /, 6/17/2017, Lens 30, ISO 200, FStop {fstop}, Shutter 1/250, Aperature {aperature},

Rinn hit a 2-run home run to put Wednesday’s game away and give the Chukars their second win of the season. Rinn was perfect (5-for-5) on the night.
Lara had one of the Chukars’ best pitching performances during the early season. Once he relieved for Gwinn, the Chukars were in control. His eight strikeouts is a team-high for the Chukars.

Up next

The Chukars (2-1) return tonight to Suplizio Field for the final game of a four-game series against Grand Junction (1-2). First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. The Chukars will be home Friday for their home-opener against Orem.

Chukars washed out in Ogden


The Idaho Falls Chukars’ chase for a playoff spot was put on hold by rain in Ogden, Utah, on Thursday night.

Idaho Falls won three of four against Ogden this week at Melaleuca Field to cut their deficit on first-place Grand Junction to 3.5 games and three of the second-place Raptors. But rain washed out Thursday’s game, and combined with Grand Junction’s 8-0 win over Orem the Chukars’ deficit is four heading into today’s single game. Idaho Falls has eight games remaining.

Ogden and I.F. will play a doubleheader Saturday (beginning at 1:30 p.m.) and then finish their four-game series Sunday before Idaho Falls heads to Orem for two games against the first-half champion Owlz. Idaho Falls plays its final two regular-season games at home Wednesday and Thursday against Orem.

Any combination of six Idaho Falls losses and Grand Junction wins will eliminate the Chukars from the playoff hunt.

Chukars release 2016 schedule

The Idaho Falls Chukars released their 2016 schedule this week.

I.F.’s first six games will be played at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars kick off the season with a two-game series against the Ogden Raptors, who are in the Pioneer League South Division with the Chukars, Orem Owlz and Grand Junction Rockies. Opening night is June 17 and first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

The Chukars host Orem for a four-game series following Ogden. I.F. also hosts the Owlz for a two-game series Sept. 7 and 8 to end the regular season.

I.F. beat Orem in three games to advance to the 2015 Pioneer League Championship, where it lost to Missoula in three games. The Chukars’ first 2016 series against the Osprey is a four-gamer at home beginning July 16.

The second Northwest League vs. Pioneer League All Star Game will be played Aug. 2 in Ogden, Utah.

The Chukars went 38-38 last season and won the Pioneer League South second half title with a 25-13 record — their best record in a half since they became a Kansas City Royals affiliate in 2004.

The Royals clinched their first World Series title in 30 years on Sunday. They beat the New York Mets in five games. Former Chukar Salvador Perez (catcher) was named World Series MVP.

Chukars’ full 2016 schedule

June 17-18 vs Ogden
June 20-23 vs Orem
June 24-27 at Ogden
June 30-July 3 vs Grand Junction
July 4-5 vs Ogden
July 6-7 at Ogden
July 8-11 at Orem
July 12 off (MLB All-Star Game)
July 13-15 vs Helena
July 16-19 vs Missoula
July 20 off
July 21-24 at Helena
July 25-27 at Missoula (end of first half)
July 28-31 vs Grand Junction
Aug. 1 off
Aug. 2 Northwest League vs Pioneer League All-Star Game
Aug. 3 off
Aug. 4-7 at Great Falls
Aug. 8-10 at Billings
Aug. 11 off
Aug. 12-14 vs Great Falls
Aug. 15-18 vs Billings
Aug. 19 off
Aug. 20-23 at Grand Junction
Aug. 24-25 at Orem
Aug. 26-27 vs Orem
Aug. 28-31 vs Ogden
Sept. 1-4 at Ogden
Sept. 5-6 at Orem
Sept. 7-8 vs Orem

Three Chukars named All-Stars

First baseman Josh Banuelos, outfielder Amalani Fukofuka and relief pitcher Tripp Davis will represent the Idaho Falls Chukars as reserves at the first Pioneer League/Northwest League Midsummer Classic, scheduled for Aug. 4 in Spokane.

Banuelos has been a force at the plate, leading the Pioneer League with 34 RBIs. Banuelos, of Hanford, Calif., is hitting .338 with 47 hits.

Fukofuka’s name is sprinkled throughout the list of Pioneer League leaders. The Hayward, Calif., native is hitting a team-high .350, good for fourth in the league. He is second in the league with 70 total bases, tied for second with 50 hits, tied for third with 12 doubles and tied for fourth with four triples.

Davis has been a bright spot on the mound, leading the Chukars with two wins while posting a 4.05 ERA in eight appearances. He had an 0.71 ERA in his first 16.2 innings.

Alexis Rivera, who started the year in Idaho Falls, also was selected to the All-Star squad but has since been promoted to Single-A Lexington and won’t play in the game. When he left the Chukars three weeks ago, Rivera led the league in home runs (7), RBIs (17) and OPS (1.233). His home run total is still tied for third in the league.

Orem placed three players on the Pioneer League starting lineup (catcher Taylor Ward, third baseman Michael Pierson and outfielder Kyle Survance) and one more reserve. Missoula led the way with five selections.

For a full list of the All-Stars, visit

Chukars-Osprey rained out, will play doubleheader today


A late-afternoon thunderstorm and the prospects of more bad weather forced the postponement of Friday’s scheduled game between the Idaho Falls Chukars and Missoula Osprey at Ogren Park.

The teams are scheduled to make up the game as part of a doubleheader today. The first of two seven-inning games will begin at 6 p.m.

It was the third rainout of the season for the Chukars, with the other washouts coming at Melaleuca Field.

This was Idaho Falls first trip to Missoula this season.

The Chukars (29-26, 9-8) and Osprey will play single games Sunday and Monday before Idaho Falls returns to Melaleuca Field to begin a four-game series against Pioneer League South Division leader Grand Junction on Tuesday.

Brewers-Chukars rained out, will play doubleheader Wednesday

Tuesday’s constant rain canceled the Idaho Falls Chukars game against the Helena Brewers scheduled for Melaleuca Field. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. today at Melaleuca Field. Each game will be seven innings and will be the second and third contests in the Chukars’ (23-23, 3-5) four-game homestand against the Brewers (17-30, 4-5). At 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, the Chukars official Twitter account (@ifchukars) posted that fans who purchased tickets to the rained-out game could have them exchanged for vouchers to a later home game. Tuesday’s rainout was the second this season. The last time the Chukars had two games rained out in a season was 2009. Pat Sutphin /

Disastrous 7th inning dooms Chukars

Idaho Falls' Alex Marquex is tagged out by Grand Junction Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon during Thursday's game at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars lost the game 12-2. Alex McDougall /


The Idaho Falls Chukars, who entered July 4 having scored 23 runs in their previous two games were stopped cold in the seventh inning by miscues.

Idaho Falls committed three of its seven errors and walked four batters in the frame, resulting in nine runs for the Grand Junction Rockies en route to a 12-2 loss Thursday night at Melaleuca Field.

The loss snapped Idaho Falls’ Independence Day win streak at four.

The game ended much differently than it began as the Chukars (4-11) and Rockies were tied at 2-2 and committed a combined two errors through six innings. Runs by infielders Cody Stubbs and Carlos Garcia gave Idaho Falls the 2-1 advantage after four innings before Grand Junction’s Ramiel Tapia scored the game-tying run in the sixth. Continue reading “Disastrous 7th inning dooms Chukars”