Chukars walk off unlikely winners over Ogden

Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

A game that deserved a wild ending got just that when Meibrys Viloria crushed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to hand the Idaho Falls Chukars a 16-12 victory over the Ogden Raptors in front of a season-best crowd of 3,678 fans Monday night at Melaleuca Field.

Viloria’s 458-foot blast high over the wall in right field sent the fans scurrying to catch the fireworks show 10 minutes before the scheduled 10 p.m. start time, and sent the Chukars to an unlikely win.

Overcoming the odds

Idaho Falls did everything it could to hand the game to Ogden, falling behind 7-0 in the second inning, committing seven errors and walking 12 Raptors hitters. Fittingly, the Chukars were a strike away from a win in the top of the ninth when a close pitch went against Idaho Falls lefty Reinaldo Cepin. DJ Peters made the Chukars pay, sending the next pitch into left field to score the tying run.

Viloria
Viloria

But Brian Bayliss got the final out of the ninth and then worked a scoreless 10th before Idaho Falls loaded the bases on single, a sac bunt, an intentional walk and another walk. Yeison Melo had the first chance to end it, but he struck out after getting ahead in the count. That left it up to Viloria, the Chukars’ leading hitter this summer. Viloria worked the count into his favor before launching a no-doubter to right for this team-high third home run and setting off a celebration at home plate.

As they have done for much of the season, the Chukars were able to overcome bad defense (they lead the Pioneer League in errors) and inconsistent pitching with dominating offense. One day after collecting 18 hits, Idaho Falls finished with 19 in Monday’s win. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, four had two hits and Tanner Stanley (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs), Colton Frabasilio (3 for 5, two runs, RBI) and Viloria (3 for 5, three runs, six RBIs) had three.

Overlooked

Lanky left-hander Cole Way didn’t have his best stuff, but his three innings of shutout relief allowed the Chukars to rally from the early 7-0 deficit. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound punter-turned-pitcher from Tulsa, Okla., allowed just one hit and walked three while striking out four. His ERA dropped to 2.08.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

The sweet-swinging lefty has been a nightmare for pitchers this summer. He entered Monday second in the league with .467 average, going 21 of 45 with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. He increased his average to .480 on Monday, adding his 10th double and third home run while pushing his RBI total to 19 (tied for the team lead).

Up next

The Chukars wrap up their six-game homestand with a game against the Ogden Raptors tonight. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls then hits the road for three games at Ogden and three more at Orem before taking a day off July 12.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 18, ROCKIES 7: Idaho Falls blasted five homers on a breezy Sunday afternoon and cruised to a win over the Rockies, giving the Chukars three wins in the four-game series.

Luke Willis, Leland Clemmons, Ryan Dale, David Edwards and Manny Olloque went deep for the Chukars, who finished with 18 hits. Olloque led the hit parade, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Willis was 3 for 5 with four runs and two RBIs, Ricky Aracena was 3 for 6 with two runs and two RBIs and Angelo Castellano went 2 for 4 with a double, a run and two RBIs.

Arnaldo Hernandez earned the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

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