Tag: Billy Endris

Osprey dash Chukars’ division title hopes with walkoff home run

Bayliss
Bayliss

The first half of the Pioneer League season couldn’t have ended more dramatically. Or with more heartbreak for the Idaho Falls Chukars.

The Chukars rallied in the ninth inning to force a tie with the Missoula Osprey and restore life into their first-half title chances. But before the buzz from the three-run top half of the ninth wore off, Missoula walked off with a 5-4 win Wednesday at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.

I.F.’s loss handed Orem its third straight Pioneer League South Division first-half title.

Wild ninth

The Chukars were the Pioneer League’s best scoring team in the first half, and it wasn’t particularly close. They scored 303 runs (7.97 per game) over their first 38 contests, good for 42 more than Orem, the league’s second most prolific team.

But I.F.’s dynamic offense was nowhere to be found for most of its final two games against Missoula. The Chukars lost to the Osprey 2-1 in 10 innings on Tuesday and trailed 4-1 heading into the ninth on Wednesday.

With a title on the line, the offense woke up.

Orem and I.F. both had 22-15 records heading into Wednesday. Since the Owlz owned the tiebreaker, the Chukars had to beat Missoula, and Billings had to beat Orem in order for I.F. to claim the first-half title.

The Orem-Billings game ended as the Chukars were batting in the ninth. The Owlz lost 7-5.

Almost on queue, the Chukars began to rally. Yeison Melo walked and Meibrys Viloria singled to lead off the inning. With one out, Jordan Ebert singled home Melo.

4-2.

Viloria scored a batter later on a fielder’s choice groundout by Nick Heath. If not for Heath’s speed, the Osprey would have turned a double play and the game would have ended.

4-3.

Angelo Castellano came up next and crushed an Erbert Gonzalez pitch to center field. The ball was feet away from clearing the fence, according to Chukars broadcaster Andrew Haynes, but I.F. wasn’t complaining. Heath came all the way around from first to score.

4-4.

Rudy Martin grounded out on a close play, according to Haynes, to end the inning.

Gonzalez had allowed three earned runs in his previous 14 innings pitched (1.93 ERA). The Chukars saddled him with three earned runs in the ninth, alone.

All-Star reliever Brian Bayliss returned for his second inning of work in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Billy Endris to bring up Jacy Cave with one out and nobody one. In a 1-0 count, Cave drove a Bayliss pitch toward left-center field. It cleared the wall, giving Missoula its second straight walkoff win.

The Chukars have not won a first-half South Division title since 2007.

Player of the game

Missoula right fielder Jacy Cave

Cave did more than launch the game’s biggest hit. He also hit a triple and went 4 for 5 on the night.

Up next

The Chukars (22-16) begin the second half at Melaleuca Field Thursday at 7:15 p.m. against the Grand Junction Rockies (16-22). Lefty Matt Portland (6.43 ERA) will get the start for I.F. against righty Mike Nikorak (2.89).

Chukars claw back but lose heartbreaker to Osprey

Missoula catcher Andy Yerzy tags out Manny Olloque for the second out of the ninth inning Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The play preserved Missoula’s 12-11 lead, and the Osprey closed the game out a batter later. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Missoula catcher Andy Yerzy tags out Manny Olloque for the second out of the ninth inning Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The play preserved Missoula’s 12-11 lead, and the Osprey closed the game out a batter later. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

With one throw, Meibrys Viloria went from hero to afterthought.

The new hero was Missoula Osprey center fielder Billy Endris, who made a game-saving throw in the ninth inning. Missoula prevailed 12-11 over the Idaho Falls Chukars thanks in large part to Endris’ throw, but it was hardly the only momentous play of Saturday’s game at Melaleuca Field.

Billy’s got a gun

Manny Olloque led off the bottom of the ninth inning with an infield single and moved to second on a Yeison Melo bunt. Viloria, the Pioneer League’s best hitter this season, came up next and smacked a single up the middle. Chukars manager Justin Gemoll waved Olloque home.

Endris scooped up the sharp single, gathered and fired a perfect one-hopper to catcher Andy Yerzy. The play was close, but Yerzy clearly tagged Olloque before the Chukars third baseman touched home plate.

Missoula exhaled an at-bat later when David Edwards flew out to left field to end the game.

Chukars refuse to die

As thrilling as Endris’ throw was, Missoula’s pitching staff is kicking itself for letting the game come down to that play.

The Osprey took a 5-2 lead through four innings, an 8-4 lead in the top of the sixth and an 11-7 lead in the middle of the eighth. They were frankly outplaying the Chukars in every area, but I.F. kept lingering due to its explosive bats. In the bottom of the eighth, the Chukars pounced.

I.F. was down 11-8 with two outs and runners on the corners when Rudy Martin stepped to the plate. In an 0-1 count, the left-handed Martin drove a fastball the opposite way. It carried all the way to the video board, 381 feet away, for a game-tying home run. It was Martin’s first home run this season and his second in his two-year minor league career.

Wild night

Chukars reliever Jason Freeman threw three wild pitches Saturday night, and one too many.

In the top of the ninth, Freeman allowed a leadoff double to Eudy Ramos, who reached third base with two outs. With Logan Soole batting, Freeman threw a wild pitch that allowed Ramos to score easily.

The run turned out to be the game-winner.

Player of the game

Osprey first baseman Tanner Hill

In a game full of home runs, Hill is an easy choice for this award. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder hit two home runs, the first of his 15 game-old professional career. He added a double and a single to finish 4 for 4.

Up next

The Chukars (16-12) and Osprey (12-16) reconvene at Melaleuca Field on Sunday at 4 p.m. Igol Feliz is scheduled to get the start against fellow righty Connor Grey.