Tag: Aaron Schnurbusch

Chukars blow a 6-0 lead to the Voyagers, lose their fifth straight

Olloque
Olloque

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ locker room was nearly silent after Saturday’s game. The few players who spoke whispered, and smiles were absent. Anyone at the game understood why.

The Chukars surrendered an early six-run lead and fell 7-6 to the Great Falls Voyagers on Saturday night at Melaleuca Field. I.F.’s offense disappeared and the defense made crucial mistakes in the team’s fifth straight loss.

Chukars jump ahead early

The Chukars had scored four runs in the three games prior to Saturday’s. They overcame that margin with two swings.

The first came from third baseman Manny Olloque, who launched a 390-foot, three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning. The blast put I.F. ahead 3-0.

Yeison Melo made the second swing, which also delivered a three-run homer. His traveled a few feet to the right of the foul pole in left field and landed 444 feet away from home plate. It put the Chukars up 6-0 through three innings.

On their most recent road trip, the Chukars scored six or more runs in one of their seven games. That was their only win of the trip, an 8-6 victory over the Voyagers.

Dreaded sevens

I.F. nursed a 6-4 lead heading into the seventh inning. Great Falls’ first two hitters of the inning reached base, and they moved to second and third on a Brady Conlan sacrifice bunt. The next hitter, Jameson Fisher, laced a double down the right field line to tie the game at 6-6.

Two innings later, Conlan hit a two-out double and reached third base on an errant throw by left fielder Rudy Martin. With the infield in, Fisher hit a tricky one-hopper to Ricky Aracena. The shortstop couldn’t handle it, and Conlan touched home plate to put the Voyagers up 7-6.

Errors up there

Aracena’s boot in the ninth inning wasn’t ruled an error, but it encapsulated another error-filled game for I.F.

The Chukars committed four errors in the game. Great Falls scored runs after three of them.

The most blatant examples of I.F.’s defensive struggles happened in the top of the fifth inning. Ahead 6-0 with two outs, Olloque whiffed on a simple ground ball that put Joel Booker on first. Booker advanced to third on a wild pitch during the next at-bat, and he scored on a Max Dutto single. Dutto moved up to third during the next at-bat on a wayward pickoff attempt from pitcher Arnaldo Hernandez. Two batters later, Conlan drove in Dutto and Aaron Schnurbusch (who walked) with a double.

The Chukars lead the Pioneer League with 116 errors (2.3 per game) this season. The next closest team in the league is Orem, which has committed 84 errors (1.7 per game).

Players of the game

The Voyagers’ bullpen

Relievers Brandon Magallones, Richard McWilliams and Kevin Escorcia shut down the Chukars for the final five innings. Together, they allowed one hit and one walk while striking out seven.

Great Falls’ bullpen also allowed one hit over four scoreless innings Friday.

Up next

The Chukars (26-25 overall, 4-9 second half) and Voyagers (29-21, 8-4) return to Melaleuca Field Sunday at 4 p.m. I.F.’s Igol Feliz (5.80 ERA) takes on fellow righty Jake Elliott (3.33).

Benches clear in the Chukars’ 7-2 loss to Great Falls

Idaho Falls Chukars starting pitcher Matt Portland throws a pitch during the first inning against the Great Falls Voyagers on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Bill Schaefer for the Post Register)
Idaho Falls Chukars starting pitcher Matt Portland throws a pitch during the first inning against the Great Falls Voyagers on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Bill Schaefer for the Post Register)

A Ricky Aracena error changed the course of Friday’s game.

The Idaho Falls Chukars shortstop made an errant throw in the top of the seventh inning that scored three runs, giving Great Falls a lead for good. One play later, the benches cleared for a near-brawl.

Heads cooled down and the Voyagers heated up after that. They defeated the Chukars 7-2 at Melaleuca Field, extending I.F.’s losing streak to a season-high four games.

Dejection and ejections

With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, Great Falls’ Casey Schroeder grounded a Cole Way pitch to the left side. Aracena backhanded the ball and fired to second, but it sailed to the right of second baseman Jordan Ebert. The bases cleared and Schroeder reached second on Aracena’s 25th error, which leads the Pioneer League. Great Falls took a 4-2 lead.

The next batter, J.J. Franco, lined a single into left field. Luke Willis fired a strike home that that beat Schroeder by several feet. Catcher Meibrys Viloria stood just off the plate when he received the throw. Instead of sliding, Schroeder put his hands out and nearly collided with Viloria.

“He was playing hard,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said with a smile, gesturing air quotation marks.

Viloria stared Schroeder down, and Way hurled angry words toward the Great Falls catcher. Seconds later, both teams’ benches and bullpens piled onto the field.

The umpires and coaches quickly subdued both sides. The most heat came from the play at home that sparked the donnybrook. At one point, Viloria cocked his right arm back as if he was going to throw the baseball at a Voyager, but bench coach Ramon Castro held him back. The only contact came from coaches and players holding their guys back.

Viloria and Way were immediately ejected. The umpires, who declined to comment, took a little longer to toss Schroeder. According to Gemoll, the umpires said that Viloria and Way instigated the scuffle when they screamed at Schroeder.

“If instigating is screaming, then they could’ve thrown everybody out,” Gemoll said. “Our guys had a right to be upset, to protect their player.”

Portland dominates, then fizzles

Matt Portland pitched what he said was his best start of the season. The left-hander labored through the sixth and seventh innings, but through five, he was nearly unhittable.

Portland allowed one hit and one walk through five scoreless innings, and he faced 15 batters (the minimum) on 57 pitches.

“I wanted to go back to basics and simplify things,” Portland said. “Trust my mechanics, trust my stuff.”

But as the pitch count went up, the outs became tougher to record.

Portland needed 30 pitches to get the next four outs. He walked three in his final 1.1 inning and was replaced by Cole Way.

“I just started thinking about too much stuff,” Portland said.

Portland ended up allowing three runs, but Aracena’s error left him on the hook for one earned run. He allowed two hits and struck out four in his 6.1 innings. He also allowed one earned run in 6.1 innings on July 22 at Helena (six hits, three walks, six strikeouts).

Player of the game

Voyagers right fielder Aaron Schnurbusch

Schnurbusch went 1 for 4, and that one hit all but sealed Great Falls’ win. The left-hander launched an opposite field two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to give the Voyagers a 6-2 lead. He also walked and scored two runs in the game.

Up next

The Chukars (26-24 overall, 4-8 second half) and Voyagers (28-21, 7-4) return to Melaleuca Field on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. I.F.’s Arnaldo Hernandez (6.50 ERA) takes on fellow righty Chris Comito.

Chukars’ rally falls just short against Great Falls

Willis
Willis

One night after being held to one hit, the Idaho Falls Chukars came up just a hit short during a 6-5 loss to the Great FallsVoyagers on Saturday night at Centene Stadium at Legion Park. It was the third straight loss for the Chukars.

Road woes

Things haven’t gone the Chukars way on this road trip to Great Falls, and they didn’t get any better in the first inning Saturday. After going down in order in the top of the first, Idaho Falls surrendered four runs on five hits and a throwing error to dig an early hole.

Great Falls managed just two more runs, both coming in the sixth inning on two-out hits. Idaho Falls went down swinging, scoring two runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth to cut the deficit to one run. The Chukars nearly wiped out the deficit in the top of the ninth when Luke Willis and Rudy Martin singled to start the frame.

Ricky Aracena followed with a two-strike bunt, moving the runners to second and third. Manny Olloque then walked to load the bases for Pioneer League batting leader Meibrys Viloria. The Chukars then got a gift when a Jaider Rocha pitch got past catcher Carlos Perez. But Perez tracked it down and threw to Rocha, who tagged out Willis on a close play.

Viloria walked to load the bases again, but David Edwards’ liner went right to Aaron Schnurbusch in right field to end the threat and the game.

Player of the game

Idaho Falls left fielder Luke Willis

While Great Falls’ Jameson Fisher was 2 for 4 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs, Willis gets the nod after a perfect night at the plate. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound right-hander went 4 for 4 to push his average to .339.

Up next

The Chukars (25-20 overall, 3-4 second half) hope to avoid a four-game road sweep when they wrap up their series against Great Falls (25-19, 4-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday. Igol Feliz (1-1, 5.91 ERA) is scheduled to start for Idaho Falls while Chris Comito (4-1, 2.74) will start for Great Falls.

Voyagers hand Chukars first shutout loss

Portland
Portland

The vaunted Idaho Falls offense was no match for Great Falls starting pitcher Alec Hansen on Friday night in a 12-0 loss at Centene Stadium at Legion Park in Great Falls, Mont.

The Chukars, who entered Friday leading the Pioneer League in runs, hits, doubles and batting average, were limited to one walk in the first and a single in the sixth. That was it. Hansen struck out 11 in six dominating innings.

Tough night

Idaho Falls had lost 18 games entering Friday, but hadn’t experienced a defeat like this all season. It was the Chukars’ first shutout loss (they had been held to one run just twice) and the largest margin of defeat (the previous was a 16-5 loss to Orem on July 8).

While Idaho Falls bats were silent, Great Falls led 4-0 after three innings and put the game away with three runs in the fifth. The Voyagers finished with 15 hits on three Idaho Falls pitchers, including home runs by Joel Booker and Aaron Schnurbusch.

Matt Portland, the losing pitcher in the 16-5 defeat, also took the loss Friday. The lefty allowed five earned runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 4.1 innings.

Angelo Castellano drew a walk while Luke Willis had the lone hit for the Chukars.

Player of the game

Great Falls starter Alec Hansen

The 6-foot-7, 235-pounder has been overpowering all season, splitting time between the Arizona League (seven innings) and Great Falls. In 20.2 innings entering the night, Hansen had allowed just eight hits and six walks while striking out 32. The second-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma was even better Friday, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 11.

Viloria honored

Idaho Falls All-Star catcher Meibrys Viloria was named the Pioneer League Player of the Month for July, the league announced Friday.

Viloria hit .420 in July with eight doubles, two triples and five homers while driving in 28 runs and scoring 24. He leads the league with a .445 average (57 of 128) in 32 games.

Up next

Idaho Falls (25-19, 3-3 second half) and Great Falls (24-19, 3-2) play the third game of a four-game series at 7 p.m. Saturday. Arnaldo Hernandez (4-1, 6.41 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Chukars while Bernardo Flores (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will start for the Voyagers.