Late rally can’t rescue Chukars in 14-8 loss to Grand Junction

 created on Friday 7/29/2016 at 7:41:41 pm by Victor Flores modified on Friday 7/29/2016 at 9:19:25 pm by Victor Flores Cutline 1editforJuly-30-Chukars-2.jpg Idaho Falls center fielder Nick Heath follows through on his first-inning double during Friday’s game against Grand Junction at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer )
Idaho Falls center fielder Nick Heath follows through on his first-inning double during Friday’s game against Grand Junction at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer )

Everything felt familiar for five innings Friday.

The Idaho Falls Chukars trailed Grand Junction 3-1 through five, but the 2,947 fans at Melaleuca Field had seen this movie before. Just one night earlier, the Chukars trailed by three runs through five. They ended up winning 7-6. And I.F. owns the highest-scoring offense in the Pioneer League, as well.

Sure enough, the Chukars finished Friday with eight runs. But they weren’t nearly enough.

The Rockies pounded I.F.’s pitching staff for 14 runs on 17 hits. Only a six-run ninth inning prevented a double-digit blowout.

Floodgates open

Save for a couple of solo home runs, Chukars starter Arnaldo Hernandez pitched well heading into the sixth inning. Then the right-hander ran into control issues, and I.F.’s bullpen couldn’t plug up the leak.

Hernandez walked two of the first three batters he faced in the sixth, and he was replaced by Christian Flecha. The Rockies piled up four hits against the lefty, leading to five runs and an 8-1 lead.

Enmanuel Camacho relieved Flecha in the seventh, and the hits kept flowing. Grand Junction scored four runs on four singles and a walk.

“They were finding holes,” Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan said of Grand Junction’s hitters. “Sometimes, you make a really good pitch and it gets hit. Sometimes, you make a bad pitch and it’s an out. This is development. You’re learning. You’ve gotta know, how do you pitch when you don’t have your best stuff?”

The final two runs scored on a play that summed up I.F.’s first eight innings. With two outs, Cole Anderson hit a soft ground ball to Jordan Ebert. The ball rolled right under the legs of the Chukars’ second baseman, resulting in a 12-1 lead for the Rockies.

Baker holds I.F. in check

Rockies starter Bryan Baker entered Friday’s game with a 7.52 ERA. He had allowed at least two earned runs in his first five starts, and he was facing the Pioneer League’s best lineup.

Naturally, Baker quieted the Chukars.

Idaho Falls catcher Meibrys Viloria loads up to make a throw after a dropped third strike during Friday’s game against Grand Junction at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls catcher Meibrys Viloria loads up to make a throw after a dropped third strike during Friday’s game against Grand Junction at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

The right-hander allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the first inning. I.F.’s next four innings against Baker were scoreless. On the night, Baker allowed allowed five hits with five strikeouts and the lone walk.

Viloria’s streak continues 

Meibrys Viloria had another strong performance at the plate Wednesday, going 2 for 5 with an RBI double. The all-star catcher extended his hitting streak to 16 games in the process.

Viloria has gone 31 for 61 (.508) with three home runs, two triples and six doubles during the steak, which began July 7 at Ogden.

Player of the game 

Rockies right fielder Manny Melendez 

Melendez and Jonathan Piron both recorded four hits, including one extra-bagger. Piron hit a double and Melendez hit home run, which gives him the slight edge for this award.

Up next 

The Chukars (23-17, 1-1 second half) and Rockies (17-23, 1-1) return to Melaleuca Field Saturday at 7:15 p.m. Igol Feliz (6.31 ERA) will start for I.F.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *