Chukars rout Mustangs, 17-2, behind Gonzalez’s six RBIs

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
The Chukars kept hitting in between the gaps and the Mustangs just couldn’t respond.

No matter how you slice it, Thursday night belonged to Idaho Falls’ trifecta of hitters: Julio Gonzalez, Logan Gray and designated hitter, Darrell Miller Jr.

Chukars’ Julio Gonzalez throws to first to make a double play against the Mustangs at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Tuesday, August 15, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark, jroark@postregister.com)

The trio combined for 12 RBIs as Idaho Falls routed Billings 17-2 at Melaleuca Field in front of 2,411 fans. Gonzalez led the way offensively with six RBIs while Miller and Gray added three RBIs, respectively.

All three had three or more hits during the win (Miller Jr. and Gonzalez had four hits apiece).

“We all had really good approaches,” Miller Jr. said. “Tried to keep it simple. (The Mustangs) have a really good staff … so it’s good to face pitching like that.”

The win split the four-game series at 2-2 as the Chukars move to 25-29 overall (8-8 second half ).

It was Idaho Falls’ largest-margin of victory since beating Helena 13-1 on July 21. The Chukars’ 22 hits, the second-most this season, made Thursday night’s win all the more sweeter.

Six of those hits came in the bottom of the sixth frame alone.

But while the offense exploded, the Chukars’ bullpen did its job, too.

“(Janser) Lara had a very solid start for us. Throwing the ball, attacking the hitters,” manager Justin Gemoll said. “And we scored runs early and we kept added on throughout the game. It’s a good win for us.”

Simply, the Chukars blasted Mustangs’ pitcher Tyler Mondile (L, 2-4) from the opening frame, registering 12 hits and eight runs.

Mondile finished the night with an ERA of 5.15.

Conversely, Idaho Falls’ starter Janser Lara controlled early and often. Billings’ six hits were one of the lowest totals this season against the Chukars, statistically one of the Pioneer League’s worst pitching and defensive teams.

But as Lara and closer Andrew Beckwith shut the door on Billings (24-28, 6-9), the Chukars kept adding on runs.

Lara finished the night with two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out six. He did allow one home run, as Jeter Downs hit his fourth dinger of the season in the top of the sixth.

Beckwith allowed one hit and struck out two in 2.1 innings pitched Thursday.

“They threw the ball well,” Pitching coach Jeff Suppan said of his bullpen. “Janser threw the ball well, so I was happy for him. I thought he was smooth and had good rhythm. It’s really his first time pitching in the United States, so I think his stuff really played well.”

What’s important:

From the start, this was the Chukars’ night. Six runs in the bottom of the third gave them an early lead and Idaho Falls hardly had a problem afterwards.

Player (s) of the game:

Julio Gonzalez. While Miller Jr., Gray and Janser Lara played a vital role during Thursday night’s win, Gonzalez’s six RBIs were most notable.

Quotable:

“It is nice to get one of these (routs), but it’s by no means a day off. We still have to go up there and keep our foot on the gas and not let up because that’s how a lot of teams come back, especially in this league. It’s an offensive league, so you’re not safe up by freakin’ eight runs. These guys battled, and we battled, and I think it was a good series.” — DH Darrell Miller Jr.

Notables:

– Gonzalez’s six RBIs were a team-high this year. He’s also only the third player to hit five-plus RBIs in a single game this year, joining Robby Rinn and Matt Morales.

– Darrell Miller’s RBI during the first frame was his 30th of the season. His 32 RBIs are tied for second-most (Tyler Straub) on the Chukars.

– An attendee was injured at Melaleuca during the latter portion of Saturday’s game and was transported away by ambulance. Chukars assistant GM Josh Michelson said the attendee was “okay” and had injured themselves from a fall.

Up next: The Chukars are off today. They will return to action Saturday at Grand Junction (27-27, 9-7). First pitch is at 6:40 p.m.

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