Tag: Brandon Thomas

Chukars Notebook: Q&A with Ricky Aracena

Aracena
Aracena

Perhaps no player represents the Idaho Falls Chukars’ poor second half more than Ricky Aracena.

Through Sunday, the shortstop had hit .183 since the first half ended. His on-base percentage dropped from .320 to .286, and his slugging percentage fell from .379 to .305.

Aracena’s biggest area of struggle this season has been defense, where he committed 38 errors going into Monday’s game.Missoula shortstop Jasrado Chisholm is second in the Pioneer League with 24 errors.

But errors only tell half the story. Aracena has a cannon of a right arm that’s rarely inaccurate (MLB.com ranked his arm a 65 on the 20 to 80 scouting scale). He’s also shown good range thanks to his above average speed. His biggest issue is corralling routine ground balls.

Aracena signed with the Kansas City Royals for $850,000 as a 16-year-old in 2014. He was MLB.com’s No. 24 international prospect at the time, and he’s the 29th-ranked prospect in Kansas City’s system in the website’s most recent list.

“Aracena has the quickness and range to play shortstop, and his very strong arm allows him to make all of the necessary throws,” MLB.com’s scouting report says. “He exhibits good instincts in all facets of the game and earns praise for his makeup as well.”

Aracena recently talked with the Post Register about his defense, signing with the Royals and his favorite MLB player. Chukars bench coach Ramon Castro translated.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

I’ve noticed good arm strength and accuracy from you this season. Is that something you would say, too?

“I haven’t been good with defense, but I try every time to throw perfect to the base. I think it’s becoming better.”

What has been the main reason for the errors this season?

“The errors I make are because I’m not ready, not focused. It’s a mentality.”

Do you think you’ll be able to fix your error troubles going forward?

I’ve been more focused, I’ve been more relaxed from making nice plays. I’m continuing to work.”

Do you feel like you’ve improved as a defender this season?

“I try to work hard all the time, whether I make an error or not. There are a lot of things I can do better.”

How did you get noticed by MLB scouts as a teenager?

“I was training in the Dominican Republic. Some friend told a scout with the Kansas City Royals, ‘I’ve got this guy here, so come down here and watch him.’ I was good when I signed. I was running good, threw good to the base and hit good. That’s why the Kansas City Royals signed me.”

How did you react when you signed?

“I was excited to sign with the Kansas City Royals. I was very happy coming to the states. I’m working hard and trying to go to the big leagues.”

Did earning that much money surprise you?

“I was looking for more money. Another team wanted to give me less money. I wanted to stay in Kansas City because I knew the Royals give a lot of opportunities.”

Who is your favorite MLB player or players?

“Jose Reyes.”

Why him?

“He plays hard every day. He plays hard, he plays exciting, he enjoys the game.”

DOZIER MOVES UP

Former Chukar Hunter Dozier was promoted from Triple-A Omaha to Kansas City on Friday. The Royals made room for Dozier on their 40-man roster by placing pitcher Luke Hochevar on the 60-day disabled list, according to the Kansas City Star.

Dozier hit .294/.357/.506 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 15 home runs in 433 plate appearances this summer with the Storm Chasers. Before Friday, the third baseman was considered the Royals’ top minor league prospect in the minor leagues, per MLB.com.

Dozier, 24, played for the 2013 Pioneer League champion Chukars. He hit .303/.403/.509 with seven homers that season.

2015 CHUKARS MOVE ON

The Post Register ran an interview last month with former Chukar Josh Banuelos, who was released by the Kansas City Royals in June. But he wasn’t the only 2015 I.F. player who was released since last summer. Here are the others (their 2015 stats with the Chukars are in parentheses):

LHP Tripp Davis (Pioneer League all-star; 2.81 ERA, 30 Ks, 11BB in 32 IP)

LHP Cruz Guevara (5.30 ERA, 37 Ks, 17 BBs in 37.1 IP)

OF Brawlun Gomez (.231/.279/.447, team-leading 11 HRs in 208 ABs)

C Pedro Gonzalez (.328/.403/.552 in 58 ABs)

LHP Nick Green (3.52 ERA, 15 Ks, 7 BBs in 15.1 IP)

LHP Hunter Haynes (7.04 ERA, 27 Ks, 24 BBs in 47.1 IP)

RHP Carter Hope (6.07 ERA, 28 Ks, 12 BBs in 56.1 IP)

OF Riley King (1 for 3 in one game)

C Luis Lara (.320/.393/.320 in 25 ABs)

INF Logan Nottebrook* (.252/.341/.470 in 33 ABs)

C Kyle Pollock (.280/.348/.464 in 125 ABs)

RHP Alberto Rodriguez (3.38 ERA, 21 Ks, 13 BBs in 29.1 IP)

LHP Brandon Thomas (3.35 ERA, 34 Ks, 25 BBs in 45.2 IP)

LHP Ian Thompkins (4.44 ERA, 25 Ks, 20 BBs in 2.41 IP)

*Nottebrook retired

WHO’S HOT?

1B Joe Dudek

From Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, Dudek notched at least two hits in each of the four games. Through Sunday, Dudek had gone 17 for 35 (.486) with three home runs, five doubles and 11 walks in his last 11 games.

WHO’S NOT?

C MJ Sanchez

Sanchez has been saddled with the backup catcher role thanks to Meibrys Viloria, so his playing time has been sparse. When Sanchez has played, he’s struggled.

Through Sunday, the 22-year-old had played in nine games since the start of August. He went 2 for 28 (.071) with one walk in those contests. He’s hitting .214/.291/.229 on the season.

Chukars lose 4-3 to Orem, finish regular season at .500

In the final game of the regular season, the Idaho Falls Chukars fell to the Orem Owlz 4-3 at Orem, Utah.

The Chukars finished the season at .500 and will host Orem tonight for the first game of the Pioneer League South Division playoffs.

I.F. took a 3-0 lead after one and a half innings, but Orem scored three runs in the bottom of the second off Chukars’ left-hander Brandon Thomas.

Owlz designated hitter Angel Genao hit a solo home run off Thomas in the fourth inning, and that proved to be the winning run.

Gasparini
Gasparini

Chukars center fielder Amalani Fukofuka and second baseman D.J. Burt each went 2 for 4. Burt, who also stole two bases, extended his on-base streak to 54 games.

Shortstop Marten Gasparini went 1 for 3 with a walk in his second game with I.F. since Aug. 24. Gasparini spent the previous two weeks in Japan representing Team Italy in the World Baseball and Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup.

The Chukars had a Pioneer League-best 25-13 record in the second half, flipping their league-worst 13-25 record from the first half.

I.F. plays the Owlz at Melaleuca Field at 7:15 tonight, then travels to Orem for the second playoff game Thursday and a third game (if necessary) Friday.

The Missoula Osprey and the Billings Mustangs will battle in the North playoffs. Whoever wins that series will get homefield advantage in the championship series. The winner of the South series will host the North championship representative starting Sunday.

Chukars remain in first after 4-2 win over Grand Junction

The Idaho Falls Chukars lead the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings for another day.

A two-run fifth inning powered Idaho Falls to a 4-2 win over the Grand Junction Rockies on Friday at Melaleuca Field to begin a four-game homestand and give the Chukars their 10th win in the last 11 home games. Coupled with Ogden’s 14-6 win over Orem, the Chukars (32-33, 19-8) remain atop the South Division standings by one game over the Owlz.

Dini
Dini

Nick Dini broke open a scoreless game with a one-out, solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. The Rockies (27-38, 7-20) answered with a solo home run from Jonathan Piron to begin the top of the fifth.

The offensive spark continued in the remainder of the frame, as D.J. Burt put the Chukars ahead again with an RBI-triple that drove in Cody Jones. The hit stretched Burt’s on-base streak to 45 games. The lead was pushed to 3-1 two batters later when Joshua Baneulos scored Burt with a single to right.

Jones, who reached on a fielding error by Grand Junction first baseman Collin Ferguson with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, came home on a wild pitch by James McMahon two batters later for I.F.’s fourth run.

Brendan Rodgers drove in Mylz Jones with a double in the top of the eighth for Grand Junction’s final run.

Dini finished 2 for 3 and Burt went 2 for 5 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored.

Hunter Haynes, who relieved starting pitcher Bryan Brickhouse after three innings, gave up two runs on six hits while walking none and striking out five in five innings. Brandon Thomas earned the save, tossing a scoreless inning while allowing two hits and a walk.

First pitch for game two between the Rockies and Chukars is 7:15 p.m. tonight.

Fukofuka gets throwback walk-up song, game-winning hit in 9-8 Chukars victory

Fukofuka.
Fukofuka.

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Idaho Falls Chukars outfielder Amalani Fukofuka entered Monday’s opening game of a four-game homestand against the Billings Mustangs looking for a new walk-up song.

He not only left with a throwback to walk up to, but the game-winning hit to conclude a rollercoaster 9-8 victory before 3,144 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Before his third at-bat, the opening verse to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child blared through the Melaleuca speakers. He got a single in that at-bat, followed by a single and the game-winning RBI double in his final two appearances to finish the night 3-for-5.

The outfielder said he not only enjoyed the song chosen by the guys working in the booth, but called it fitting for his name which has drawn much attention throughout the league this season.

“I started laughing when it started playing,” Fukofuka said. “I actually told one of the guys who worked here that I didn’t like my old walk-up song and I told them to just pick whatever. I’ll stick with it.”

The song seemed to do the trick, as the win put the Chukars at 13-4 in the second half of the season. It also maintained I.F.’s lead in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings to three games over the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owlz, who are both tied for second at 10-7.

It was also the latest in a recent string of rallies for the Chukars. Idaho Falls saw its 3-2 lead through two innings disappear as the Mustangs bats heated up and Chukars errors (five, all by shortstop Marten Gasparini) started taking a toll. Consecutive walks and a wild pitch by I.F. relief pitcher Brandon Thomas resulted in Ed Charlton coming home to put Billings up 7-3 entering the seventh inning stretch.

Idaho Falls responded with runs by D.J. Burt and Fukofuka in the bottom of the seventh and four runs in the bottom of the eighth, which saw five consecutive Chukars go to bat before the first out.

“They didn’t panic,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “They were trying to have good at-bats. Everyone’s been doing a good job of competing all year.”

Catcher Kyle Pollock went 2 for 4 with a two-run, 406-foot homer in the bottom of the second and Cody Jones went 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Thomas earned the win, giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and strking out one in four innings.

Idaho Falls (26-29) faces Billings (25-29) for game two tonight at 7:15 p.m.

SUNDAY’S GAME: The Chukars got a strong start from Derek Gordon and completed a three-game series sweep with a 6-5 win over Helena on Sunday at Melaleuca Field.

Gordon had a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before a Gasparini error extended the inning. Malik Collymore broke up the no-hitter with a two-run home run. Helena added two more runs in the sixth to tie the game.

The Chukars took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when Cody Jones tripled and DJ Burt walked. Both runners came home on a botched pickoff play.

Helena got a run in the eighth, but Brian Bayliss pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

Burt went 2 for 3 with three runs scored, Luis Lara was 3 for 4 and Joshua Banuelos was 2 for 4 with a run to lead the Chukars.

Chukars stay hot with 8-5 win over Helena

A three-day break didn’t halt the Idaho Falls Chukars’ hot streak.

The Chukars played on the road Thursday against the Helena Brewers for their first game since the inaugural Northwest League vs. Pioneer League All-Star Game played on Tuesday. The Chukars took an early lead and held off the Brewers for an 8-5 win, improving their season-long win streak to six games after losing the first game of the second half.

August 2007 was the last time Idaho Falls won six games in a row.

“It shows the attitude of our guys that this second half is ours to lose,” Banuelos said postgame via Chukars’ play-by-play broadcaster Alex Cohen.

Idaho Falls scored five runs on five hits in the top of the first inning. Center fielder Cody

Fukofuka.
Fukofuka.

Jones (0 for 4) led things off with a walk. All-star right fielder Amalani Fukofuka drove him in two batters later with a single. He scored on a single from fellow all-star Josh Banuelos (1 for 3) , the Chukars’ first baseman. Shortstop Marten Gasparini singled two batters later with two outs, and catcher Nick Dini (1 for 4) drove him and Banuelos in on a double to left field. Designated hitter Brawlun Gomez drove in the fifth run with a single up the middle.

Helena cut Idaho Falls’ lead to 6-5 after the fourth inning, but the Chukars’ bullpen pitched a near-perfect final five innings and the offense provided two insurance runs.

“It takes a while for a team to gel together,” Banuelos said. “When we got on that roll, we started gelling together as a team. Now in the second half, we know it’s ours to lose, and we’re going in with strong intentions of winning this whole thing.”

All five Brewer runs came against Chukars’ starting pitcher Daniel Concepcion, but only two were earned. The right-hander gave up eight hits and no walks with four strikeouts on Thursday. His streak without giving up an earned run ended at 16.2 innings.

Chukars’ righty Josh Staumont pitched 2.2 scoreless innings on one hit, two walks and six strikeouts. Since Staumont’s first start with Idaho Falls, when he gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings on July 16, the second-rounder has given up two earned runs in his previous 12.1 innings.

Left-hander Brandon Thomas shut the door with 2.1 scoreless innings on one hit, no walks and three strikeouts.

Fukofuka went 2 for 3 with a walk. Gasparini, Gomez and left fielder Roman Collins each went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Collins also hit a triple.

Idaho Falls (19-26, 6-1 in second half) takes on Helena (18-25, 2-5) tonight at 7:05 for the second game of the series.

Chukars Notebook: I.F. hitters explain walk-up songs

Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman Josh Banuelos hits a fly ball to center field during the first inning of the game against the Missoula Osprey July 17 at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman Josh Banuelos hits a fly ball to center field during the first inning of the game against the Missoula Osprey July 17 at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

A smile was absent from Josh Banuelos’ face as he approached home plate two springs ago.

Banuelos was making his first home plate appearance of the 2014 baseball season, his redshirt junior season for Fresno Pacific University. Banuelos felt nervous that his new introduction song was “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.

The 1995 R&B song fits awkwardly in baseball’s macho culture, so Banuelos expected some perplexed reactions. That song? Really?

So he was surprised when he returned to the dugout after his at-bat.

“All of the guys were like, ‘That song is tight,’” Banuelos said. “I was like, ‘If they like it, I know it’s a good song.’”

Banuelos has walked up to “Fantasy” ever since, including the 17 home games he’s played for the Idaho Falls Chukars this season. The first baseman’s song choice taps into the layered world of baseball hitters’ walk-up songs.

“It makes you smile, you’re relaxed and I’ve had success with it,” Banuelos said of “Fantasy.” “I don’t want to change things up.”

Walk-up songs appear in professional leagues all the way down to high school. The songs run for about 30 seconds before each hitter’s plate appearance, and they’re only played for the home team. But some players draw a line between walk-up song and results.

Banuelos had a .378 batting average, a .432 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging percentage for Fresno Pacific last season. His batting average is .343 for Idaho Falls this season.

In other words, Banuelos has excelled since he started walking up to “Fantasy,” and he doesn’t think that’s coincidental.

Banuelos mainly chose “Fantasy” because he likes it, just like DJ Burt. The Chukars second baseman walks up to “My Way” by the rapper Fetty Wap. He started using it this season, and he only chose it because it’s a song he regularly listens to.

Idaho Falls outfielder Amalani Fukofuka also walks up to a Fetty Wap song (“Again”). His reasoning is similar to Burt’s, but it also helps his performance, he said.

“When you have a catchy beat walking up to the plate, it gives you a little rhythm,” Fukofuka said. “You have to stay relaxed.”

Chukars third baseman Ryan Dale disagrees. He walked up to Darude’s “Sandstorm” for most of the season and now walks up to a different techno song, Disclosure’s “You & Me” (remixed by Flume). Other than the home ties (Dale, Darude and Flume are all Australian), Dale likes to get pumped up before each plate appearance. “Sandstorm” and “You & Me” fulfill that requirement.

The Kansas City Royals’ mental skills coach Freddy Sandoval walked up to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in college and during his 10-year playing career in the Los Angeles Angels organization. But the song was not used to pump him up.

“That was the first song I listened to when I met my wife,” Sandoval said. “It puts me in a happy place.”

Sandoval’s agrees with Banuelos and Fukofuka about the purpose of walk-up songs — to be relaxed and positive.

“Music alone can retrieve a lot of information from your past,” Sandoval said. “If a player chooses a song that reminds him of negative thoughts or negative situations, it’s detrimental to what he’s trying to achieve.”

Banuelos still gets some negative reactions to “Fantasy.” But it brings a smile to his face, and that’s all he cares about.

“As long as I’m in baseball, I’ll probably stay with that song,” Banuelos said.

CHUKARS’ WALK-UP SONGS

  • Josh Banuelos — “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey
  • DJ Burt — “My Way” by Fetty Wap
  • Roman Collins — “Vampire” by Tribal Seeds
  • Ryan Dale — “You & Me” by Disclosure (Flume remix)
  • Nick Dini — “Epic Sax Guy” aka Sergey Stepanov (via YouTube)
  • Jeckson Flores — “Fireball” by Pitbull
  • Amalani Fukofuka — “Again” by Fetty Wap
  • Marten Gasparini — “Heart Upon My Sleeve” by Avicii
  • Pedro Gonzalez — “Farruka” by Chapi Chapi
  • Brawlun Gomez — “Aposento Alto” by Quien Vive
  • Cody Jones — “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith
  • Logan Nottebrok — “Tops Drop” by Fat Pat
  • Kyle Pollock — “Savior” by Andrew Ripp

Orem player’s connection to the Royals

The Chukars and Orem Owlz were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning on July 6. Idaho Falls center fielder Cody Jones faced Orem’s left-handed pitcher Tyler Watson with a runner on first and one out.

On a full count, Watson threw a changeup. Jones softly hit the pitch into right field for an RBI double. The run was the difference in Idaho Falls’ 4-2 win.

“If there was one person in this league who would throw a 3-2 changeup to me, it would be him,” Jones said. “He’ll pitch backwards, and he’s good at it.”

Jones didn’t know this purely based on scouting. He played with and against Watson since childhood. Jones, by association, has also know Watson’s father, Gene Watson. Gene currently serves as the director of professional scouting for Kansas City, Idaho Falls’ MLB affiliate.

The two played little league baseball in Austin, Texas, from about 7 years old until high school. Jones played for Stony Point and Watson played for Georgetown (both schools are in Austin suburbs).

Jones attended Texas Christian University, and Watson went to McLennan Junior College in Waco, Texas. Watson was drafted in the 38th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Royals selected Jones in the sixth round of the 2015 draft.

Jones and Watson’s Rookie-level teams face each other 16 times this season, including a four-game series wrapping up today in Orem.

“I texted him last night — I told him if he needed anything while he was here, let me know,” Watson said on Saturday. “He said he needed a vehicle and a fishing pole. I said, ‘Alright, bud, I’m on my way.’”

Gene Watson hasn’t seen Orem play yet this season, but he plans to make a trip out in a couple of weeks to see his son play. He missed Watson throw 3.1 scoreless innings against the Chukars on Saturday.

Gene wouldn’t say who he roots for when the Chukars and Owlz play. All he said was how bizarre it feels to watch those games.

“It’s really strange to see the players we talk about every day and know that your kid is in the other dugout,” Gene said.

Roster move

On Monday, right-handed pitcher Brooks Pounders was promoted from Idaho Falls to the Advanced Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Pounders, who was on a rehabilitation assignment, pitched three scoreless innings for Idaho Falls in his July 16 start. He posted a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings for the Chukars last season.

Who’s hot?

LHP Brandon Thomas

Thomas has been the Chukars most consistent relief pitcher this season. He’s pitched the third most innings (27.0) of any Idaho Falls pitcher despite making only one start (on July 12, when he allowed three earned runs in five innings). Thomas has given up one home run and 12 walks against 23 strikeouts, and his season ERA is 2.00.

Who’s not?

LHP Tripp Davis

The side-armer threw 10.1 innings without an earned run to start the season. That streak ended on July 15, when he gave up a walkoff solo home run to Missoula’s Luke Lowery. Davis pitched 2.1 scoreless innings three days later against Great Falls, but he was shelled by Orem on Friday. Davis gave up seven runs (five earned) on six hits and a walk in 0.2 innings pitched against the Owlz. His season ERA is now 4.05.

Chukars drop tight doubleheader to Missoula

Saturday’s Pioneer League game between the Idaho Falls Chukars and the Missoula Osprey was rained out, giving the Chukars their first night off of the season.

But the extra rest didn’t result in wins the next day.

The rained out game forced a Sunday doubleheader. Missoula won the first game 3-2 and the second 4-1 (each game lasted seven innings) at Allegiance Field to win the series.

After two scoreless innings in game one, the Osprey scored three combined runs in the third and fourth off of starting pitcher Todd Eaton (three earned runs on seven hits and a walk in 5.0 innings pitched) to take a 3-0 lead.

The Chukars answered with two runs in the top of the fifth on a RBI single by designated hitter Nick Dini (1 for 3) and an RBI double by third baseman Ryan Dale (1 for 2).

In the second game, Missoula scored two runs in the first inning on a solo home run from Isan Diaz and a triple from Austin Byler.

Chukars starting pitcher Brandon Thomas settled down after that inning, allowing three total runs (all earned) on five hits and a walk in five innings pitched.

Idaho Falls didn’t score until the top of the seventh inning. The Chukars offense mustered three hits, two by left fielder Roman Collins.

Outfielder Amalani Fukofuka went 1 for 3 with a double in each game to increase his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest in the Pioneer League this season.

Idaho Falls relief pitcher Stephen Milligan gave up one earned run in the second game, ending the bullpen’s 26-inning streak of not allowing an earned run.

Monday’s game between the Chukars and Missoula Osprey was rained out. Both teams will take their scheduled off day today and make up Monday’s game on Wednesday in Idaho Falls as part of a doubleheader, which begins at 5:30 p.m. (each game will last seven innings). Both teams were originally scheduled for a three-game series in Idaho Falls starting Wednesday.

Chukars’ skid hits four games

POST REGISTER

The Grand Junction Rockies continued their dominance over the Idaho Falls Chukars, getting a strong start from Parker French and two home runs to earn a 6-3 win in front of 1,870 fans Saturday at Sam Suplizio Field.

The Rockies improved to 5-1 against the Chukars this season.

Idaho Falls fell behind 6-1 early and saw its losing streak reach four games.

Grand Junction took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Sam Hilliard’s RBI triple to center and a fielding error by Chukars third baseman Ryan Dale.

I.F. cut the lead in half in the top of the second when Pedro Gonzalez homered over the wall in center. But Grand Junction extended the lead with four runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-run single from Daniel Suero and a solo homer from Hilliard.

That was more than enough support for French, who allowed three runs on six hits while striking out seven in 5.2 innings. Three Rockies relievers shut the door over the final 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four.

Todd Eaton took the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings. Brandon Thomas saw his ERA fall to 2.89 with three scoreless innings of relief, allowing a hit and a walk with four strikeouts.

Joshua Banuelos added a two-run home run for the Chukars in the sixth, while Brawlun Gomez was 3 for 4 and Roman Collins was 2 for 4 with a run.

Idaho Falls (3-7) and Grand Junction (7-3) play the third game of their four-game series at 6 p.m. today. The teams finish their series Monday before the Chukars return home for the first of six games at Melaleuca Field beginning Tuesday.

Chukars top Raptors for second straight win

POST REGISTER

The Idaho Falls Chukars got a sacrifice fly from Brawlun Gomez in the top of the 11th inning and good pitching throughout to beat host the Ogden Raptors 4-3 on Monday.

It was the Chukars’ second straight win after opening the season with three blowout losses at Melaleuca Field.

It took a little extra work for I.F. to get its first winning streak. The Chukars trailed 3-2 after five, but tied the game in the seventh on Marten Gasparini’s solo homer to left field.

The score remained tied until the top of the 11th, when Joshua Banuelos walked, moved to second on a single from Alexis Rivera, to third on a sac bunt by Amalani Fukofuka and scored on close play on Gomez’s sac fly to right.

Brennan Henry, who joined the Chukars on Monday from the Lexington (Ky.) Legends, got the final six outs to earn the win. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound lefty just one hit in two innings while striking out one.

That followed two strong performances from starter Todd Eaton and reliever Brandon Thomas.

Eaton pitched the first four innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with three strikeouts. Thomas was even better, allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in five innings.

Rivera led a balanced offense, going 3 for 5 with his second home run. Gasparini, Banuelos, Fukofuka, Kyle Pollock and Ryan Dale each had two hits.

The two teams play against at 7 tonight in Ogden.
Continue reading “Chukars top Raptors for second straight win”

Chukars pitch a gem, shut out Rockies 9-0

By JEFF PINKHAM
jpinkham@postregister.com

Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Mark Davis won’t have an easier night at the ballpark than he had Friday night.

Chukars pitchers got 14 groundball outs and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base, and Idaho Falls got its first winning streak of the season with a 9-0 victory over the Grand Junction Rockies in front of 1,841 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Davis said there was a simple explanation for the dominance of his pitchers Friday.

“They were aggressive,” said Davis, who won the Cy Young Award for the Padres in 1989.

It all started with starter Bryan Brickhouse, a 2011 third-round draft choice who is in Idaho Falls on a rehab assignment while working his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. The 6-foot, 195-pound righthander allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out three in four innings. He induced seven groundball outs and threw just 34 pitches.

“He set the tone,” Davis said. “He had a good breaking ball, a lively fastball and he actually threw a couple changeups. He threw the ball really well.”

Continue reading “Chukars pitch a gem, shut out Rockies 9-0”