Owlz chew up Chukars, 13-2

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
The Owlz have continuously stumped the Chukars all season. Friday night was no different.

Gray (via Chukars media)

Orem downed Idaho Falls 13-2 Friday night at Melaleuca Field behind 11 unanswered runs in the first five frames and strong command on the mound.

The loss puts the Chukars at 17-21. Orem, the best team in the Pioneer League, advances to 26-11.

It was the first time the Chukars allowed 20-plus runs since June 20 against Grand Junction.

And the Owlz almost blanked Chukars, if it wasn’t for Logan Gray. Gray scored after a passed ball by Owlz pitcher Keinner Pina in the bottom of the sixth — the first run scored by the Chukars since Wednesday. Robby Rinn then grounded out to first baseman Jeyson Sanchez, allowing Cristhian Vasquez to reach home.

Orem’s starting pitcher Cole Duensing and defense dominated early and throughout, however, as Duensing struck out two batters and didn’t allow a single hit or run in five frames of work.

The Chukars didn’t register their first hit until after Duensing left the mound and Gray reached second base after a shot to right field off Evan Smith.

The Chukars would finish with just four hits and five total bases.

Against the Owlz, a lack of offense has been a consistent trend this season for the Chukars. They’ve only garnered eight hits in the previous two games against the Owlz, and have scored more than five runs just twice (a 9-7 win against Orem on June 29; a 10-6 loss on June 23) in nine games.

What’s important:

The Chukars continue to struggle against the Owlz, losing 13-2 Friday night. Idaho Falls is 1-8 when its played Orem this season.

Player (s) of the game:

Logan Gray. Gray was the only Chukar to get any luck at the plate Friday. Gray went 2 for 4 and reached home once.

Upnext:

The Chukars return home Saturday for game three of four against the Owlz. First pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m.

Owlz blank Chukars 3-0

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Orem continues to be the antithesis of Idaho Falls.
The Owlz blanked the Chukars 3-0 Thursday night at Melaleuca Field, after the Chukars failed to score a run for the first time all season.

Chukars infielder Offerman Collado looks back to see if the ball is in during a game against the Orem Owls game on Thursday night.

The loss puts Idaho Falls at 17-20. Orem advances to 25-11. The Chukars are 1-7 against the Owlz this season.
“The game of baseball is crazy,” Darrell Miller Jr. said after Thursday. “We’ve been hot with the bats, and you know, these types of games happen.”
Miller Jr. is correct: baseball can be a difficult game to predict.
A day after littering Missoula’s Ogren Park with 23 hits, Idaho Falls’ offense only registered four against Orem starter Elvin Rodriquez at Melaleuca.
And although it was a relatively clean game through nine frames, it was Orem’s stout defense that kept Idaho Falls from lighting up the scoreboard.
Pitchers Dillon Drabble and Geoffrey Bramblett kept the Chukars in it, combining for seven strikeouts, 10 runs and three earned runs. The Chukars’ defense also didn’t commit an error.
The only Chukars, though, who could garner hits against Orem’s strong command on the mound: Matt Morales, Offerman Collado, Robby Rinn and Chris Hudgins.
“Their team did a really good job of throwing strikes, especially in the corners,” Morales said. “We were a bit unaggressive tonight, rather than last night where we put a lot of hard balls into play.”
Miller Jr., who didn’t suit up for Thursday’s game, said fatigue was a big factor in the series opener.
Before Thursday, the Chukars had played seven straight on the road, the last three reaching three hours-plus. Wednesday was four hours and 17 minutes, another was three hours and 56 minutes.
Thursday’s loss went for two hours and 33 minutes.
“We’re going to go get ‘em tomorrow,” Morales said. “We should be good.”

What’s important:

A clean game all around, the Chukars’ offense was fatigued after playing seven on the road and three straight three hour-plus games (one was over four hours and another was three hours and 56 minutes).

Player(s) of the game:

Pitcher Dillon Drabble. Drabble finished with four strikeouts, two walked, six hits and just one earned run in 4.2 innings pitched.

Quotable:

“There staff did a pretty good job of locating pitchers, making pitchers. That, mixed with a little fatigue, and I think we didn’t have our best stuff today. You know, it’s the game of baseball.” – Chukars catcher Darrell Miller Jr.

Notables:

– The Chukars won Wednesday night 15-12 in the longest game of the season. In four hours and 17 minutes, the Chukars registered a season-high 23 hits. The game also went extra innings (10) as the Osprey garnered 16 hits. The game finished past the Post Register’s deadline.

– Saturday will be the first game of the second half of the Pioneer League season.

– Thursday’s attendance was announced as a season-high 3,332.

Upnext:

Idaho Falls returns home Friday for game two of four against Orem. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Chukars down Osprey late, win 14-7

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
The Chukars’ offense started hot Monday and never cooled down.
Idaho Falls scored six runs in the first frame, two in the second and another in the top of the third to go up 9-0. It (technically) didn’t need another run Monday at Ogren Park, beating Missoula 14-7 late.

Robby Rinn (via Chukars Media)

The win puts the Chukars at 16-18 on the season. The Osprey fall to 16-18. Idaho Falls has won three of its previous five.
With their offense clicking early, the Chukars never eased up during the latter innings — as the Osprey scored four runs in the final five frames to make Monday’s first of a three-game series relatively closer than the first three innings indicated.
Chukars’ designated hitter Freddy Fermin had a positive outing, going 4 for 5 for four RBIs at the plate. Robby Rinn was responsible for three of the Chukars’ 19 hits, going 3 for 6 for two RBIs at the plate.
The Osprey also found offense, garnering 12 hits, but by the time they collected double-digit hits, it was too late.
The Chukars have outscored their opponents in the past five games, 47-29. And their offense may continue to improve, winning eight of their past 11 games by five runs or more.

What’s important:

The Chukars offense was electric Monday, winning 14-7 after 19 hits. The Chukars’ offense has found their groove as of late, outscoring their opponents 47-29 in the previous five games.

Player of the game:

Freddy Fermin. Fermin paced the Chukars’ offense early by hitting 4 for 5 at the plate for four RBIs and tagging home three times.

Upnext:

The Chukars return to Ogren Park to play Missoula in game two of a three-game series Tuesday evening. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

Sunday’s game:

At Kindrick Legion Field, Helena beat Idaho Falls 10-5 after scoring all of its runs between innings three and six. Three Brewers’ home runs probably didn’t hurt their chances, either.
The scoring started when the Brewers’ Jay Feliciano hit a three-run dinger to Helena a 3-0 lead. Then Yerald Martinez added two more runs with a home run off Chukars’ pitcher Julio Pinto (2-5) in the bottom of the third.
The Chukars’ answered the two home runs with four runs of their own during the top of the fourth, as Tyler Straub hit in Robby Rinn off a sac fly to right field before Freddy Fermin hit a two-run home run to cut into the Brewers’ lead, 5-4.
But a three-run triple, followed by a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth by the Brewers, downed the Chukars.
Pinto finished with the loss: four hits, five earned runs, two ome runs and six strikeouts in four innings pitched. Jeremy Gwinn had trouble, too, allowing five earned runs and eight hits in just three innings of work.
Fermin led all Chukars offensively, going 2 for 4 for three RBIs.
The loss put Idaho Falls at 15-18. Helena advanced to 15-18.

Chukars’ notebook: Just like the rest of the MLB, Chukars’ games can go long

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Editors note: Every Sunday, Luke O’Roark will break down the Chukars, the Pioneer League, and give some insight on what’s going on inside the Kansas City affiliate.

Fans enjoy witnessing a Chukars’ win, but, it may take them a while to see one.
Friday the Chukars beat the Brewers easily, 13-1, in… three hours and 38 minutes. It wasn’t even the longest game of the season — that was Idaho Falls’ 13-10 win over Grand Junction on June 22.
It took four (!) hours.
For context: MLB games took about two hours and 56 minutes in 2015, according to a Fox Sports report. The average time increased to three hours and 26 seconds in 2016, per ESPN.
Intriguingly, MLB games are taking longer today than a they were decade ago, according to research from Baseball Reference.com.
“It’s tough,” Vance Vizcaino said of how long some games go. “We’ve got good opponents and our pitchers throw well and they throw strikes. And when we face good hitters, they’ll get hits.”
Still, the Chukars are trending around three hours a game in 2017.
In the month of July (so far), the average Chukars’ game takes two hours and 58 minutes. Eight of the Chukars’ 19 games took three hours or longer.

(FILE) Idaho Falls’ Julio Gonzales makes the throw to first base after getting the force-out on Missoula’s Dominic Miroglio at second base during Monday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. The double play ended the sixth inning.

The Chukars’ 12 games in June took even longer: three hours and 16 minutes. Nine of their 12 games went past the three-hour mark.
Considering the Chukars’ normal start time at home (7:15 p.m.), most games don’t finish until 10-10:30 p.m.
The quickest Chukars game this year was Tuesday’s 6-1 win against Missoula at two hours and 18 minutes.
“I mean, this game, it was 15-11 so that kind of explains (why it went long) a little bit,” Chukars catcher Chris Hudgins said on July 15. “I don’t know, really. We have extra time in between innings where we’re doing some stuff, entertaining the crowd so that could be a big part of it, but it could also depend on the tempo of the game.”
The justification behind why baseball games — whether at Melaleuca Field or the Kansas City Royals’s Kauffman Stadium — take so long? It depends on who you ask.
The length of baseball games has, historically, been longer than its major sports contemporaries because of pitches, time in between innings and the natural structure of the sport.
The MLB has tried to implement new rules in order to speed up the game. But baseball games are still about the same length of a “Lord of the Rings” movie.
“I wish I knew the answer,” Chukars’ manager Justin Gemoll said after Idaho Falls’ home opener. “Maybe an earlier start time would get us done earlier. We had a long day last night. We left (Grand Junction) around midnight and rolled in here around 8:30 in the morning, so quick turnaround.”
The Chukars are the only Pioneer League team to start home games at 7:15 during Monday through Saturday. Other teams start anywhere from 6:05 p.m. (Billings) to 7 p.m. (Ogden).
Pitcher David McKay said he actually enjoys the later starts.
“It’s not bad,” he said. “You get to sleep in.”
Secondly, the Pioneer League is also a developmental level for the MLB’s farming system. Players are trying different pitches and perfecting different components of their respective games.
With errors and mistakes being made, games have the potential to go longer because of more batters, pitches and chances for games to be extended. Vin Scully told the Boston Globe in a 2013 article that even minuscule changes, like Velcro, have added time to baseball games.

(FILE) Chukars infielder Offerman Collado (1) runs to second base during a regular season game against the Brewers on Wednesday night at Melaluca Field.

Other theories include the amount of promotions before first pitches and between innings.
“I don’t know,” pitcher Michael Silva said. “It’s just the game of baseball. Every game can be different and it happens everyday.”

Chukars transactions (as of July 18-22)

– The Chukars received outfielder Travis Jones from the Burlington Royals on July 19. Idaho Falls is Jones’ third destination this year. He played seven games for Burlington and nine games in the Arizona League before arriving in Idaho Falls.

Around the Pioneer League

With the first half of the regular season coming to a close, Orem leads the league at 23-8. Ogden is second in the Pioneer League South division (behind the Owlz) at 17-14. Grand Junction is third at 15-15. Idaho Falls is in fourth at 14-17.

In the North division, Billings (15-15) is only 0.5 games ahead of Missoula (15-16) atop of the standings. Helena is third (14-17), as Great Falls has the worst record in the league at 10-21.

Recap: Chukars collapse late, lose to Brewers 7-4

Post Register | Prsports@postregister.com
Idaho Falls is still searching for consistency. And it couldn’t find any late Thursday evening against Helena.
The Brewers beat the Chukars 7-4 at Kindrick Legion Field after combing five runs in the last two innings. The loss puts the Chukars at 13-17 during the first half of the season. Helena moves to 14-16.

Darell Miller Jr. Provided via Idaho Falls Chukars

It was the first time all season the Chukars lost after leading through six innings.
Two errors allowed the Brewers to come back in the seventh inning, as the Chukars lead 4-2 heading into the frame. It started when Chukars pitcher Christopher Marte had a throwing error when Gabriel Garcia singled on a bunt and Chad McClanahan scored.
After Gilbert Lara scored KJ Harrison, Jay Feliciano reached on a fielding error by shortsop Offerman Collado with Garcia reaching home — giving Helena its second lead Thursday.
From there, Dallas Carroll hit a two-run homer to score Antonio Pinero in the bottom of the ninth before retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth. Carrol finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
The Chukars lead during the middle of the game after scoring two runs in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively.
Darrell Miller Jr. went 1 for 3 for an RBI and two runs. He has recorded a hit in every single professional game.
The Chukars — amid a seven-game road trip — will play the Brewers in game two of four in Helena today at 7:05 p.m. Fans can listen to the game on KSPZ or follow the game live on 980thezone.com.

Chukars best Osprey behind Capps, strong pitching

Capps (via Central Oklahoma Athletics)

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Whatever Chukars’ pitcher Holden Capps did during Tuesday’s pregame at Melaleuca Field, he should keep doing it.
Capps, along with the Chukars bullpen, shut down the Osprey Tuesday evening, 6-1, to finish Idaho Fall’s seven-game home stand. The Chukars’ Tuesday night win means they split their four-game series with the Osprey, 2-2, and push their record to 13-16 on the season. Missoula falls to 15-14.
The Chukars almost registered their third shutout out all season (it would’ve also been their second in three days), but a Francis Martinez home run in the top of the ninth ruined the Chukars’ potential shut out.
It was the second time that dang Martinez caused problems for the Chukars.
Still, Tuesday’s win showcased one of the Chukars’ best pitching performances all season.
From the opening frame, it was all Capps (1-0) — the Royals’ 8th round pick in the 2017 draft. He struck out four batters, walked one and allowed just four hits in five innings pitched. He has yet to allow a single run in his two games pitched in the Pioneer League.
Jeremy Gwinn provided relief for Capps, striking out three batters, allowing six hits and a home run for his second save of the season.
On offense, Robby Rinn, Cristhian Vasquez and Amalani Fukofuka helped Idaho Falls to its fourth win in seven games. The three combined for five hits, three triples, and four RBIs.

What’s important:

The Chukars’ pitching controlled Tuesday’s game, winning 6-1 and splitting their series with the Osprey 2-2.

Player(s) of the game:

Holden Capps and Robby Rinn. Capps was dominant on the mound, not allowing a run in his second start on the mound for Idaho Falls. Rinn went 2 for 4, one being a two-RBI triple.

Notables:

– Robby Rinn has now registered two hits in four of his previous five games.

– Amalani Fukofuka has had five RBIs in the past four games.

– Capps, the Royals’ 2017 8th round pick, pitched five scoreless innings for the second time this season. His first start came on July 13 against Helena.

– Tuesday was the Chukars’ shortest game all season: two hours and 18 minutes.

Up next:

The Chukars earn their second day off this season on Wednesday. They will travel to Helena Thursday start a seven-game road trip.

Chukars notebook: Rinn continues to improve

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Editors note: Luke O’Roark will break down the Chukars, the Pioneer League, and give some insight on what’s going on inside the Kansas City affiliate every week. Normally on Sundays, this week’s notebook comes on a Tuesday.

Robby Rinn has been all over the place.

Robby Rinn (via Chukars media)

Massachusetts. Rhode Island. Arizona. Idaho Falls. He’s been racking up the air miles since he was drafted in the 25th round by the Royals in 2016.

He’s also been racking up the hits since joining the Chukars this summer.

Rinn leads Idaho Falls in hits (33), at-bats (101), walks (16) and RBIs (24, good for third in the Pioneer League). For the Chukars, he’s second in doubles (7), tied for second in home runs (3), third in total bases (50), third in on-base percentage (.429), fifth in slugging (.495) and fourth in batting average (.327).

O.K., you probably get it — Rinn can do it all.

“He is very consistent for us,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “He’s got good at-bats and doesn’t try to do too much.”

Rinn’s handy work with a baseball bat began attending private schools in Warwick, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts before walking on at Bryant University.

From there, he was drafted by the Royals in the 2016 MLB draft and spent 2016 in the Arizona League. He batted .280 in 189 at-bats, with 53 hits and 31 RBIs in 50 games.

Rinn, 24, has continued to improve in Idaho Falls.

“You get here and the players are more polished for sure,” Rinn said on June 26. “I mean, kids are still a lot more polished than I am, it’s just a different style it seems … Yeah, I’m from a small school and it was even hard for me to get to that small school because of the recruiting process in college, too, and it was hard for me to even get to this point so I’m just appreciating it.”

Gemoll said Rinn is the type of hitter managers look for in the middle of order. Rinn is batting fourth behind Amalani Fukofuka, and found some luck: he’s notched eight hits in the previous 10 games.

“He’s a strong guy, and keeps swinging in the zone as much as possible,” Chukars’ hitting coach Damon Hollins said. “Just gotta keep going up there and get his pitch.”

Team transactions (from July 8-17):

– The Chukars received Julio Gonzalez from the Burlington Royals, as Ricky Aracena was assigned to the Lexington Legends. Aracena played six games for Idaho Falls, registering 10 hits and 10 runs while batting .385.

– Dalton Griffin was listed as “suspended” on July 12, according to MiLB.com league transactions. Chukars manager Justin Gemoll did not clarify the reasoning behind the suspension. Griffin, 19, last played on July 7 against Ogden. He had one at-bat.

– On July 11, the Chukars swapped three players with the Arizona League Royals: Pitchers Danny Hrbek, Andrew Beckwith and Holden Capps came to Idaho Falls. In return, Jose De Leon, Randy Acevedo and Adres Sotillet were assigned to the Arizona League.

– Left-handed pitcher Josh Mitchell was also assigned to the Chukars on July 11.

– Vance Vizcaino was transferred to the Lexington Legends on July 15. Vizcaino was vital to the Chukars’ offense this season. He batted .287 with 25 hits and 16 RBIs in 22 games. Gemoll called Vizcaino “athletic” and “smart” on the field and is a player who can play multiple outfield positions.

– Jonathan McCray was assigned to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Monday. It will be McCray’s second stint in Carolina. With the Chukars, McCray tallied 30 hits, 54 total bases and 14 RBIs in 22 games.

Around the Pioneer League (as of July 17):

– Orem is the best team in the Pioneer League, sitting at 19-7. Missoula and Billings leads the Pioneer League North Division at 14-13. Idaho Falls is tied for fourth in the South Division at 12-15 (7.5 games behind Orem).

– Speaking of Billings, the Mustangs recently acquired Reds’ first-round pick Hunter Greene, according to the Billings Gazette. Greene was selected second overall in this year’s draft, signing a $7.23 million signing bonus.

– Orem and Ogden continue to be the league’s top offenses. Orem leads the league in hits (326), runs (237), RBIs (212) and batting average (.326). Ogden has the most home runs with 43 and OPS at .946.

– In terms of pitching, Great Falls leads the league in team pitching with a 4.39 ERA. The Voyagers have allowed a league-low 12 home runs.

– Grand Junction’s Shael Mendoza is the league’s hits-leader at 41. Orem’s David MacKinnon leads the league in batting average at .468.

– Billings’ Moises Nova holds the league’s best ERA at 2.49 in 21.2 innings pitched.

Missoula hits late home run to beat I.F. 7-5

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
A Francis Martinez home run changed Monday’s game completely.
Martinez smacked a Damon Olds’ pitch over Melaleuca’s center field wall, breaking a tie and giving Missoula a 7-5 win over Idaho Falls at Melaleuca Field.

Idaho Falls’ Julio Gonzales makes the throw to first base after getting the force-out on Missoula’s Dominic Miroglio at second base during Monday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. The double play ended the sixth inning.

The Osprey’s record extends to 15-13. The Chukars fall to 12-16.
“They’ve been competing all year,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “We just came up a little short tonight on one pitch.”
Before Martinez hit a home run in the top of the eighth, Monday’s back-and-forth affair saw three lead changes and the Chukars-Osprey’s offenses almost mimic the other.
Missoula had seven hits and two errors. Idaho Falls had 10 hits and two errors. The only real difference was Martinez’s home run.
“There’s a lot of good hitters, especially in this league,” Amalani Fukofuka said after Monday’s game. “The ball flies. You just got to keep playing.”
It took just two batters to get the first run of the game: Ernie De La Trinidad hit an RBI-triple to set the pace early and go up 3-0.
Logan Gray hit an RBI-triple in the bottom of the second to get the Chukars on the board. Jake Wakamatsu added a run when his right-field long ball hit the top of a Melaleuca’s back wall. The double scored Gray to cut into Missoula’s lead, 3-2.
The Chukars then took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third, 4-3.
The Osprey responded with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth. Finally, the Chukars tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when Robby Rinn scored Fukofuka for the second time Monday. Back-and-forth the bout continued.
That was until Martinez blasted a home run over the center wall, quieting Melaleuca and giving the Osprey’s their second win of the four-game series.
The Chukars’ attempted to rally, but Abraham Almonte closed the door. He finished with one strikeout, no hits or runs allowed and a save in two innings pitched.
“I like the way they compete,” Gemoll said. “We’re striving for consistency on all three facets of the game: pitching, hitting and defense.”

What’s important:

In a back-and-forth game Monday night, Missoula hit a late home run to beat Idaho Falls.

Players of the game:

Amalani Fukofuka and Robby Rinn. Fukofuka went 2 for 3 and had two runs. Rinn went 2 for 4 and had two RBIs.

Quotable:

“The more you play, the more that happens. So, it’s not a big surprise. It’s not like it’s a playoff game. We play everyday.” — outfielder Amalani Fukofuka after being asked aboutMonday’s late home run.

Notables:

• Attendance was announced as a season-high 3,223.

• The Chukars are 1-2 when tied after the seventh inning. They are 5-11 when an opponent hits a home run.

• Fukofuka had his 11th multi-hit game this season. Rinn’s two RBIs give him 26 on the season.

Upnext:

Idaho Falls returns home Tuesday to conclude a seven-game home stand against Missoula. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Sunday’s game:

The Chukars shutout the Osprey 6-0 in front of 1,412 fans at Melaleuca Field Sunday.

Julio Pinto (2-4) controlled the Ospreys, striking out 11 batters and allowing just six hits just a day after Missoula hit five home runs off the Chukars’ bullpen.

On the offensive end, Chukars’ outfielder Jonathan McCray went 2 for 4 and hit his fourth home run of the season to help Idaho Falls win its third game in five days.

Tyler Straub also went 2 for 4 and hit a 415-foot home run in the 8th inning — his third this season.

Osprey bombard Chukars with five dingers

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
If you missed the MLB home run derby, it’s O.K. There were plenty of home runs Saturday evening at Melaleuca Field.

Missoula bombarded Idaho Falls with five home runs en route to a 15-11 slugfest win. The win pushes the Osprey to 14-12. The Chukars fall to 11-15 on the season.

Every inning between the first and seventh frames had runs scored, until Chukars Michael Silva held off the Osprey’s hot bats.

But by the time Silva came in, the damage had already been done.

Missoula scored all of its runs between innings two through six, blasting Chukars starting pitcher David McKay for 11 earned runs and four home runs in five innings pitched.

“If you look at the scoreboard, they scored, we scored,” Hudgins said. “So we didn’t give up. We battled back.”

The Osprey worked McKay early, hitting into the left gaps twice before a Francis Martinez two RBI-double gave them a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.

Robby Rinn and Tyler Straub would respond, crossing home plate after the Chukars notched three hits in the bottom of the frame.

Joey Rose answered those runs with a dinger over center field to give the Osprey the lead, 4-2.

But then, the floodgates really opened in the top of the fourth. It began when Chukars’ Chris Hudgins committed his second error to allow an Osprey run, after Missoula stole two bases. The Opsrey then hit their second home run of the game after Keshawn Lynch blasted a 2-0 pitch off McKay to go up 8-2.

The Chukars scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, blowing the game into an offensive onslaught — seriously. Freddy Fermin hit a line drive that knocked Missoula pitcher Jimmy Johnson’s glove off his hand. He would recover and get Fermin out at first, but the Chukars were able to get three runners home (McCray, Rinn and Straub).

But the Osprey kept smashing home runs, hitting two in the bottom of the fifth.

“We put up a four-spot in the eighth inning, so we didn’t give up,” Hudgins said. “We battled back.”

Amalani Fukofuka and Jonathan McCray notched RBI to cut into Missoula’s 11-5 lead. But their efforts to negate Missoula’s hot hitting was negated.

The Chukars garnered four runs in the bottom of the eighth, but came up short in the bottom of the ninth.

What’s important:

After holding Helena in check Thursday and Friday, Idaho Falls allowed Missoula to hit five home runs Saturday night at Melalaueca Field.

Player(s) of the game:

Fermin (Via Chukars media)

Chris Hudgins, Freddy Fermin and Michael Silva. Hudgins went 3 for 5 at-bat, hitting one RBI and crossing home once. Fermin went 2 for 4 and three RBIs. Silva, one of the Chukars’ strongest relievers, struck out two batters and didn’t allow a single hit in three innings pitched.

Quotable:

“I feel like we try to do way much. Guys are going up there trying to hit 500-foot home runs sometimes and, unfortunately, that’s not how the game works. Now we’re getting them on, getting them (home) and we’re doing that well.” — catcher Chris Hudgins on how the team’s offense has improved as of late.

Notables:

– Vance Vizcaino, one of the Chukars’ best players, was called up to Lexington Saturday morning. Vizcaino batted a .287 in 22 games for the Chukars. He was second on the team for runs scored (17), fourth in hits (25), tied for second in RBIs (16) and registered a hit in eight-straight games at one point this season.

– Saturday was the first meeting this year between Idaho Falls and Missoula.

– Freddy Fermin hit a line drive in the bottom of the fourth that knocked Missoula pitcher Jimmy Johnson’s glove off his left hand. He would recover and throw Fermin out at first.

– Missoula entered Saturday’s game ranked second to last in the Pioneer League in home runs (17).

– Broken bat update: two were snapped Saturday.

Up next:

The Chukars return home Sunday to play game two of a four-game series against Missoula. First pitch is at 4 p.m.

Chukars beat Brewers, 7-5, at home

By Paul Lambert | prsports@postregister.com
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug,” or so sang Dire Sraits in their remake of the Mary Chapin Carpenter hit.

Many times the bug this season, the Idaho Falls Chukars played the role of windshield Friday night, riding timely hitting and clutch pitching in a 7-5 win over visiting Helena Brewers.

Darell Miller Jr. Provided via Idaho Falls Chukars

“We got some big hits in some big spots, and were lucky to get out of here with a win tonight,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “These kids are young and competitive, and they’re giving it their all.”

Idaho Falls starting pitcher Janser Lara left the bases loaded in the first, wriggling off the hook thanks to strong defensive plays from shortstop Julio Gonzalez and left fielder Vance Vizcaino.

Lara reached his pitch count early, leaving five Missoula runners on base through two shutout innings, but not before running his team-best strikeout total to 22 (over 15 and 2/3 innings)

Cleanup hitter Darrell Miller, Jr., got the Chukars on the board in the first, driving home Amalani Fukofuka with a line drive to left.

The hit was Miller’s 20th as a professional, and he has now had a hit in every game of his 9-game professional career, coming into the game hitting .528.

Miller, Fukofuka and Vizcaino all came around to score in the first, staking Lara to an early 3-0 lead.

Adding to a fun night for the Idaho Falls catcher, Miller also gunned down Helena’s Chad McClanahan on a steal attempt to end the third inning.

“It has been unreal,” Miller said of his early success as a pro. “I love this town, and the Royals organization really helps you learn things in a way to help you get the most out of every situation.”

Also putting the handcuffs on a would-be Helena thief, Fukofuka gunned down Payton Henry who was attempting to tag up and take third on a flyball to right – drawing a standing-ovation from a large number of the 2,874 in attendance at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars added one in the fifth and three more in the sixth, taking advantage of three Helena errors to score four runs and take a 7-2 lead

That 3-spot in the sixth came in handy as the Brewers kept whittling away in the latter innings, scoring one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

Leading 7-5 entering the top of the ninth, Idaho Falls called on former Pittsburgh Panther standout Josh Mitchell who picked up his first professional save.

The crafty southpaw worked a 1-2-3 inning to wrap things up, striking out Nicolas Pierre for the final out, giving the Chukars their 11th win of the season.

The Chukars (11-14) continue their seven-game homestand tonight, playing the first of four against the Missoula Osprey (13-12). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.