Back-to-back road wins have pushed the Idaho Falls Chukars closer to winning the Pioneer League South Division first-half title. Idaho Falls held off Helena on Sunday to end that three-game series, then pounded Missoula 17-7 on Monday to kick off another three-game set.
The Chukars were unable to build on their one-game lead over Orem when the Owlz rallied from a late two-run deficit to earn a 6-5 win over Helena. The Chukars could clinch the first-half title Tuesday with a win and an Orem loss.
Idaho Falls has the top offense in the Pioneer League, and they only added to that lead Monday. The Chukars finished with 20 hits, including four doubles and two home runs. Every hitter in the Idaho Falls lineup had at least one hit, and every Chukar scored at least once.
Manny Olloque, Yeison Melo, David Edwards and Angelo Castellano each had three hits, while Rudy Martin, Meibrys Viloria and Jordan Ebert added two apiece. Idaho Falls hitters also drew four walks. And despite scoring 17 runs, they left 11 runners on base.
Idaho Falls scored at least two runs in seven of the nine innings, including four in the eighth and three in the second, seventh and ninth innings.
Idaho Falls starter Andres Machado wasn’t the force he had been in his previous three starts, when he allowed a combined one earned run on 11 hits in 14 innings. But he wasn’t bad, either. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five in five innings to even his season record at 2-2.
Player of the game
Chukars second baseman Angelo Castellano
Castellano has been one of the few Chukars to struggle at the plate, hitting .259 while showing little power. But something clicked for the 6-foot, 170-pounder, who entered Monday hitting .245. Castellano pushed that average to .259 after going 3 for 6 with two singles and a three-run bomb in the seventh.
Idaho Falls (22-14) continues its three-game series with Missoula tonight. Alex Luna (3-0, 2.50 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Chukars while Alex Gouin (1-2, 5.79) is expected to start for the Osprey.
CHUKARS 7, BREWERS 6: At Helena, Mont., the Chukars turned the tables on their road woes, rallying from an early 4-2 deficit and then surviving a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn a rare victory away from Melaleuca Field.
Idaho Falls had lost seven road games by one run, including five of them in walk-offs. Helena nearly made it six Sunday, loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth with the Chukars up by a run. But Idaho Falls reliever Brian Bayliss got a flyout to end the threat and close out the win.
The Chukars trailed 4-2 entering the fifth, but Meibrys Viloria added to his amazing season by belting a three-run homer to right field. David Edwards followed with a solo homer to put the Chukars up 6-4. Helena tied the score with single runs in the fifth and eighth, but Idaho Falls went back ahead when Yeison Melo and Viloria singled. Jordan Ebert then lined a single to center that went in and out of the glove of Joantgel Segovia, allowing Melo to score.
Viloria improved his league-leading average to .456 by going 3 for 4, while adding his 15th double and sixth home run. Ricky Aracena was 2 for 4 with a run while Ebert was 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI and Melo was 2 for 5 with a run. And the league’s worst defense was error-free for the second straight game.