Tag: Drew Milligan

Chukars go quietly in series finale at Grand Junction

Willis
Willis

Perhaps the Idaho Falls Chukars’ toughest second-half loss occurred Monday, when an eighth inning home run lifted the Grand Junction Rockies to a 5-4 win.

Tuesday’s loss looked more garden variety, but the Chukars squandered good chances to take the game, split the series and remain within striking distance of first place.

The Rockies earned a 5-1 win Tuesday at Sam Suplizio Field. The Chukars lost the final three games of the four-game series, and they now sit 5.5 games behind Grand Junction in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.

Pivotal seventh

I.F.’s offense was quiet for most of Tuesday night, but it perked up in the top of seventh inning, down 3-1.

With one out, Nick Heath walked, Jordan Ebert reached on an error and MJ Sanchez was hit by a pitch. That set the table for leadoff hitter Luke Willis, who had gone 2 for 3 heading into the at-bat. He struck out looking. Manny Olloque came up next and flew out on the first pitch.

The Chukars finished 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Drew Milligan came out for his second inning of work in the bottom of the seventh, and he notched a strikeout and a groundout to start the frame. The next four batters went walk, single, walk, single. Two runs scored, and the Rockies led 5-1.

Opportunity dropped

The Chukars couldn’t have planned a better way to open their four-game series at Grand Junction. They won 13-3 and climbed to 2.5 games behind the Rockies (3.0 behind then-first place Ogden).

A series split would have put I.F. 3.5 games behind the Rockies and two behind the Raptors (Orem won the first-half title, so it cannot win the second half title). Winning three out of four or sweeping the series would have been gravy for the Chukars.

Instead, I.F. lost the final three games in eclectic fashion. Sunday’s loss stemmed from a poor start by Igol Feliz. Monday’s was a back-and-forth back-breaker. Tuesday’s fell at the feet of the lineup.

The Chukars have 16 games left to erase a 5.5-game deficit and jump two teams in the South standings.

Player of the game

Rockies starting pitcher Ty Culbreth

The left-hander pounded the strike zone throughout his five innings of work. That cost him in some cases (seven hits, including three doubles), but he escaped his few pickles. Culbreth allowed one earned run, walked none and struck out five on 70 pitches (52 strikes).

Up next

The Chukars (30-30 overall, 8-14 second half) travel to Orem (32-28, 10-12) Wednesday for a two-game series to finish the road trip. I.F. lefty Matt Portland (6.08 ERA) faces righty Travis Herrin (6.41) at 7:05 p.m.

Lefties deal in the Chukars’ 7-3 win over Billings

Idaho Falls pitcher Richard Lovelady closes out Thursday’s 7-3 win over the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls pitcher Richard Lovelady closes out Thursday’s 7-3 win over the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

Another solid start, a hot lineup and a fresh mustache keyed the Idaho Falls Chukars’ second straight win.

The Chukars ended the seven-game homestand with a 7-3 win over the Billings Mustangs on Thursday night at Melaleuca Field. The win over the Pioneer League’s best team gave I.F. its first back-to-back victories in August.

Lefties shine

Matt Portland started a string of a strong starting pitching performances on the homestand. The left-hander topped off the seven home games with another solid start.

Portland pitched five innings, allowing three runs (one earned) one five hits and three walks with six strikeouts.

“We worked a lot on his tempo, with the idea of throwing it through the strike zone instead of to the strike zone,” Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan said.

Every Chukars starter on the homestand pitched at least four innings, and the most earned runs any of them allowed was two.

Drew Milligan entered Thursday’s game with a 9.27 ERA, which ballooned thanks to nine earned runs over his previous four innings. The left-hander said he was thinking too much about mechanics, but there was also something missing. He needed mustache.

Milligan said he pitched well in extended spring training, the last time he sported a thick mustache. A couple weeks ago, he decided to bring it back. The stache grew back to spring training form Thursday, when he pitched three scoreless innings. Was it due to the mustache?

“One-hundred percent,” Milligan said. “It’s gotta stay, for sure.”

Milligan didn’t allow a hit or a walk, and he struck out three. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is now 28-to-7, and he still hasn’t allowed a home run.

“It’s a process,” Suppan said. “‘What makes me more intense? What makes me less intense? How do I take the same intensity every game?’ That’s what they’re learning, and Milly did a really nice job tonight.”

Lefty Richard Lovelady closed the game out with another perfect ninth inning. Lovelady has allowed one earned run in seven innings with the Chukars. He’s struck out nine, walked one and allowed four hits.

Sending them home

A week ago, the Chukars were struggling with runners in scoring position to an unsustainable degree. They went 1 for 25 with runners on second and/or third at Billings over the weekend, and they only slightly improved to start the homestand.

I.F. went 4 for 11 (.364) with runners in scoring position during Wednesday’s 7-5 win. That number swelled to 6 for 12 on Thursday.

In the bottom of the fourth, I.F. had a 4-2 lead with Luke Willis on third, one out and Ricky Aracena at the plate. The Chukars shortstop hit a high chopper to the left side, and pitcher Patrick Riehl appeared to touch it before it hit the ground and bounced foul. But home plate umpire Trevor Danneger ruled it foul, even after a discussion with base umpire Chris Sundvold.

The call looked like an omen, the way the Chukars had played earlier in the homestand. Instead, Aracena walked, Meibrys Viloria drove Willis home, and Aracena scored on a groundout.

Player of the game 

Chukars second baseman Angelo Castellano 

Castellano led all hitters with three hits, and he finished 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. But he also earns this honor for the impressive range, body control and arm strength he displayed at second all night.

Up next

The Chukars (29-27, 7-11 second half) get Friday off and start a six-game road trip Saturday. Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to start against fellow righty Alejandro Requena in game one of a four-game series against the Grand Junction Rockies.

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Mustangs rough up Chukars 12-5

Machado
Machado

The crowd at Melaleuca Field has seen plenty of offense from the Idaho Falls Chukars in 2016. But they haven’t seen anything more impressive than the offensive showing the Billings Mustangs displayed Monday night.

Billings pounded out 21 hits and held off two Idaho Falls rallies to beat the Chukars 12-5 in front of 3,290 fans in a game that lasted 3 hours, 22 minutes.

It was the sixth loss in seven games for Idaho Falls, which remained three games behind Grand Junction in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.

Whatever you can do

Billings grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a leadoff triple by TJ Friedl and an RBI single from Taylor Trammell. The score remained stuck at 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Idaho Falls bats held to one hit up to that point finally came to life.

Nick Heath got things started with a leadoff single and then stole second. He moved to third on a single from Luke Willis. With Ricky Aracena batting, Heath came home on a passed ball. Manny Olloque gave Idaho Falls the lead with a swinging bunt to third.

Billings didn’t take long to answer, scoring four runs on five hits against reliever Drew Milligan. The momentum from a solid start by Andres Machado (five innings, six hits, one earned run, five strikeouts) and the mini rally in the fifth was gone.

The Mustangs tacked on three runs in the seventh in what looked like insurance runs at the time. But Idaho Falls scored three runs on four hits to make it a game.

It wasn’t a game for long. Billings put the game out of reach after the first two hitters struck out, scoring four runs on five hits.

Idaho Falls went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

No relief

It was a tough night for the Idaho Falls bullpen. Milligan picked up a blown save and the loss after the rough sixth inning, while Jason Freeman allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 2.2 innings. Cole Way walked one and struck out one in 0.1 innings.

Player of the game

The entire Billings lineup

There’s no way to pick one player for the Mustangs, who got a hit from every player in the lineup. Cassidy Brown led the way with four hits, while Jose Siri, Taylor Trammell, Hector Vargas and John Sansone each had three. Trammell, Montrell Marshall, Sansone and Morgan Lofstrom each had two RBIs.

Up next

The Mustangs (33-19, 10-4 second half) and Chukars (27-26, 5-10) play the second game of their four-game series tonight at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 7, VOYAGERS 3: Idaho Falls snapped a unsightly five-game losing streak, thanks to a strong start from Igol Feliz and a five-run second inning.

Feliz pitched in and out of trouble during his seven innings, allowing nine hits but not allowing a walk and limiting Great Falls to two earned runs.

And the offense, which had averaged just 2.8 runs during the five-game skid, belted five doubles and 11 hits total. Designated hitter Joe Dudek led the way, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs. Luke Willis, Angelo Castellano and Ryan Dale also had two-baggers.

And the defense, which leads the league in errors, didn’t have a miscue and turned one double play.

Chukars fall into a division tie for first place after a 2-1 loss to Missoula

Luna
Luna

After Monday’s blowout win, the Idaho Falls Chukars had the Pioneer League South Division’s first half title in their grasp. But the Chukars still needed to win, and that was far from a sure thing, as Tuesday illustrated.

The Chukars fell to the Missoula Osprey 2-1 in 10 innings Tuesday at Ogren Park Allegiance Field. The loss, coupled with Orem’s win, means the Chukars and Owlz are tied for first place in the South with one game left in the first half. Orem owns the tiebreaker.

Quick pitch

The I.F. and Missoula pitching staffs were more than stingy; they were efficient.

The Chukars threw 117 pitches in 9.2 innings. The Osprey threw 113 in a full 10 frames. Neither team allowed a walk, the Chukars hit the only two batters of the game and the squads combined to tally 13 hits. I.F. and Missoula had 11 total 1-2-3 innings, as well, resulting in a game time of 2 hours and 21 minutes.

Alex Luna padded his resume as I.F.’s best starter, but he walked off the field with the team’s trainer prior to the bottom of the fifth, according to Chukars broadcaster Andrew Haynes. Luna allowed one run on four hits, no walks and five strikeouts in his four innings pitched.

Milligan
Milligan

Fellow right-hander Reinaldo Cepin was even more dominant. He also pitched four innings, allowing one hit and no walks with four strikeouts.

Inopportune mistakes

The only dent allowed by Luna and Cepin was a solo home run by Kyle Smith in the second inning. The blast, which was the only extra-base hit by either team, proved to be crucial as the game sped along.

Drew Milligan replaced Cepin in the top of the 10th and hit the second batter he faced. One out later, Milligan had the runner, Michael Branigan, picked off on a premature steal attempt. But the throw to first was wide, per Haynes, and David Edwards couldn’t corral it, so Branigan ended up at third base. Yan Sanchez responded two pitches later with a walk-off single up the middle.

Help wanted

Head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker for Pioneer League teams knotted up at the top of the South Division. I.F. and Orem (both 22-15 overall) went 4-4 against each other in the first half. If they remain tied after tomorrow’s games, the second tiebreaker would go into effect. That tiebreaker is division record.

The Owlz have gone 15-9 against South teams, while the Chukars have gone 13-11. So Orem will be the first-half champions if it remains tied with I.F.

The Chukars can only win the division under one scenario: a win over Missoula and an Orem loss to Billings (the North’s first-half champion).

Player of the game

Osprey starting pitcher Alex Gouin

Both sides pitched beautifully Gouin just did it longer than anyone else. The right-hander went eight innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits, no walks and six strikeouts. It was his longest start this season, and the longest outing by an opposing pitcher against the Chukars.

Up next

The Chukars and Osprey conclude their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. I.F.’s Jace Vines (6.33 ERA) takes on fellow righty Jhoan Duran (5.40).

Chukars fall apart late, lose to Helena 8-7

Chukars shortstop Ricky Aracena turns a double play in the bottom of the second inning against the Helena Brewers Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Chukars shortstop Ricky Aracena turns a double play in the bottom of the second inning against the Helena Brewers Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

For seven innings, the Idaho Falls Chukars looked liked they’d earn a clean, low-scoring win. But their bad habits returned in the final three frames.

I.F. surrendered a five-run lead and lost 8-7 in 10 innings to the Helena Brewers on Friday at Kindrick Legion Field. The Chukars are now 4-10 on the road and 4-8 in one-run games (1-7 in one-run games on the road).

Bullpen, defense blow it

Matt Portland had his longest, most effective start of the season Friday. And he became a footnote.

The Chukars left-hander went 6.1 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. I.F. led 6-2 when he exited the game.

Portland’s replacement, Nicholas Andros, gave up a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth. A lead that was 6-1 after the top of the seventh had shrunk to one.

An I.F. run in the top of the ninth calmed the tide, and Jason Freeman recorded two outs with a runner on second base in the bottom half. That runner reached base on a Ricky Aracena error an omen for that inning.

Aracena committed a throwing error at shortstop on the next play. The subsequent batter, Gilbert Lara, hit a fly ball to center fielder Rudy Martin. He dropped it, allowing a run to score and giving Helena runners at second and third.

Drew Milligan relieved Freeman and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. The second batter, Weston Wilson, lined a single to left field. The game seemed finished, but Nick Heath fired a perfect throw home to punch out Lara and send the game to extra innings tied 7-7.

Heath’s heroics were short-lived. In the bottom of the 10th, Ronnie Gideon hit a one-out double and advanced to third base on a Heath error. Nathan Rodriguez came up next and lined a single right in front of Heath to end the game.

The Chukars committed one error going into the ninth inning. They finished the game with five errors.

Patient birds

Other than Portland, the main bright spot for I.F. on Friday was its plate discipline.

The Chukars drew eight walks, including five in the second inning. Those five bases on balls and an Aracena double led to a four-run inning.

Eight is the second-most walks I.F. has drawn in a game this season. The Chukars walked nine times against Ogden in the season-opener.

Player of the game

Brewers first baseman Ronnie Gideon

Several Helena batters had big games, but only Gideon reached base four times. He went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk.

Up next

The Chukars (19-14) and Brewers (13-20) reconvene at Kindrick Legion Field at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. I.F. righty Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to start against Helena lefty Cameron Roegner.

Rockies shut down Chukars 4-3

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The Idaho Falls Chukars couldn’t get their offense going and fell to the Grand Junction 4-2 in Pioneer League baseball action Saturday night at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colo.

The loss dropped the Chukars to 5-3 and fell into a three-way tie with the Rockies and Orem Owlz atop the South Division standings.

Out with a wimper

Idaho Falls managed five hits over the first five innings off Grand Junction starter Mike Nikorak, plating two runs in the top of the fourth on Ryan Dale’s first double of the season. But the bats were quiet after that.

The Chukars got two hits and drew two walks against reliever Jan Carlos Lopez in the sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t score. Idaho Falls had less luck against Kenny Oakley, who didn’t allow a baserunner while striking out four over the final two innings to close it out.

What a relief

The Rockies built a 3-2 lead against Chukars starter Andres Machado, who fell to 0-2 on the season after allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five. But the bullpen performed well, with Drew Milligan allowing one earned runs on two hits while striking out four in 2.1 innings, and Brian Bayliss tossing 1.2 innings of scoreless relief while striking out one. Bayliss has pitched two shutout innings this year, allowing just one baserunner.

New arm in I.F.

The Idaho Falls Chukars announced Saturday that right-handed pitcher Jace Vines has been added to the roster. Vines was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2016 draft. He went 6-1 with a 4.76 ERA, striking out 60 in 62.1 innings in his lone season with the Aggies. He pitched 1.2 innings for the Arizona League Royals, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out two.

Vines is the highest draft pick on the Chukars roster.

Player of the game

Chukars designated hitter Yeison Melo

Melo continued his hot hitting to start the season, going 3 for 4 with his second triple of 2016. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound native of the Dominican Republic is hitting .355 in 35 at bats for the Chukars. He hit .318 for the Arizona League Royals last summer.

Up next

Idaho Falls continues its first road trip of the season today with the third of four game against the Rockies. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Chukars open season without any 2016 draft picks

Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on Tuesday night at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars’ season gets underway with an exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits Thursday night. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on Tuesday night at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars’ season gets underway with an exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits Thursday night. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Baked into the Idaho Falls Chukars’ 2016 opening day roster was a piece of history.

Idaho Falls’ initial roster features zero players selected in the most recent MLB draft, the first time that’s happened since the team became a Kansas City Royals’ affiliate in 2004, according the Chukars general manager Kevin Greene.

Timing contributed heaviest to I.F.’s unique group of 27 players, who graced Melaleuca Field for their first workout Tuesday night. But the current roster will change throughout the season, and some of the 2016 draftees will likely don Chukars uniforms this summer.

“It’s not like we’re getting rejects or anything,” Greene said. “There are players here who have earned the right to come back into this organization for second or third years.”

The Chukars’ previous 11 seasons as a Kansas City affiliate started at least seven days after the MLB draft concluded. That week-plus gave the Royals time to sign their draftees, put them through the post-draft process and assign them to their respective minor league teams.

This year was different. The draft ended on Saturday, a mere five days before the Chukars’ exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits. Kansas City’s other Rookie-level team, the Burlington Royals, doesn’t begin its season until next week. Same goes for the Arizona League Royals, Kansas City’s third short-season team. So the most logical decision for Kansas City’s front office was to assign its recently signed rookies to Burlington and Arizona.

The Idaho Falls Chukars held their first workout at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday night. The team has an exhibition game on Thursday night against the Idaho Falls Bandits and will begin Pioneer League play on Friday. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
The Idaho Falls Chukars held their first workout at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday night. The team has an exhibition game on Thursday night against the Idaho Falls Bandits and will begin Pioneer League play on Friday. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

“It takes time to get those players signed and get them into the organization and just go through the process of preparing them for the season,” said Ronnie Richardson, Kansas City’s director of minor league operations. “They’re drafted on the 11th. To expect them to be (in I.F.) playing games on the 16th is not quite realistic.”

Richardson said Kansas City has to evaluate its recent draft class before it can decide to send any of those 40 players to I.F. But Greene was confident that his team would receive some 2016 draftees this season, and sooner than later. Either way, he and Chukars manager Justin Gemoll are pleased with the current roster.

“I’m happy because all of these guys were in extended (spring training),” Gemoll said. “They’re familiar with each other. It’s just a matter of keeping it going.”

The Chukars have seven players who finished last season in I.F. pitchers Nick Andros, Brian Bayliss, Arnaldo Hernandez, Drew Milligan and Matt Portland, and infielders Ryan Dale and Brandon Dulin. I.F. was also the last stop for right-hander Sam Lewis, only in 2014.

David Edwards is the lone true rookie on the team. The former Loyola Marymount infileder was signed as a free agent in February.

Fifteen of I.F.’s 27 players were undrafted free agents. The highest draft pick in the group is right-hander Alex Luna, who the Royals took in the 10th round of the 2015 draft.

The Chukars will take the field on Wednesday at 5 p.m. for media day and hold their second team workout at 7 p.m. It is open to the public.

The Chukars face the Bandits at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday and host the Ogden Raptors on Friday at the same time to begin their season. I.F. lost to the Missoula Osprey in the Pioneer League Championship last season.

2016 Chukars opening day roster

LHP Nicholas Andrus
SS Ricky Aracena
RHP Brian Bayliss
LHP Enmanuel Camacho
3B Angelo Castellano
LHP Reinaldo Cepin
3B Ryan Dale
1B Brandon Dulin
2B David Edwards
RHP Igol Feliz
LHP Christian Flecha
C Colton Frabasilio
RHP Jason Freeman
RHP Arnaldo Hernandez
RHP Sam Lewis
RHP Alex Luna
RHP Andres Machado
OF Yeison Melo
LHP Drew Milligan
3B Manny Olloque
LHP Matt Portland
RHP Reid Redman
OF Jose Sanchez
OF Tanner Stanley
C Meibrys Viloria
LHP Cole Way
OF Luke Willis

Correction (6/15): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when David Edwards was signed as a free agent. That has been corrected.

MLB draft provides glimpse of future Chukars

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The MLB draft concluded Saturday, and several of the Kansas City Royals selections will appear at Melaleuca Field this summer.

The Royals have sent about 11 freshly drafted players per season to the Chukars since 2012, when teams saw their picks reduced from 50 to 40. Most of those players joined Idaho Falls on opening day, and some turned into future stars.

The Chukars’ rookie crop last season was relatively small compared to recent years. Kansas City’s highest 2015 pick on I.F.’s opening day roster was outfielder Roman Collins (fifth round). Five more 2015 selections made the Chukars’ initial roster, and they were all selected in the 14th round or later.

But other draftees started to roll in. Flame-throwing right-handed pitcher Josh Staumont (second round) joined the Chukars in July, as did outfielder Cody Jones (sixth round). Right-handers Daniel Concepcion (12th round), Matt Ditman (16th round) and Jacob Bodner (27th round) also came to I.F. later in the season.

The Chukars received 14 of Kansas City’s 2014 draftees that summer, and they all made the opening day roster. Two of those players were left-hander Eric Skoglund (third round) and first-baseman Ryan O’Hearn (eighth round) both of whom are top-30 prospects in Kansas City’s system, per multiple baseball scouting websites. O’Hearn, who currently plays for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, was the Pioneer League MVP in 2014.

Triple-A Omaha shortstop Hunter Dozier was selected eighth overall in 2013 and played 54 games for the Chukars that year. Dozier is currently Kansas City’s 11th-best prospect, according to FanGraphs.com (O’Hearn is fifth).

Kansas City forfeited its first-round pick this year after signing free-agent pitcher Ian Kennedy last offseason, per the Kansas City Star. But the Royals had a pick in each of the final 39 rounds, and they used their first to select Pepperdine right-hander AJ Puckett (No. 67 in round two).

The Chukars will announce their full opening day roster in the next few days. Their season starts Friday at Melaleuca Field versus Ogden. They also face the Idaho Falls Bandits in an exhibition Thursday.

Kansas City Royals’ 2016 draft class
AJ Puckett / second round / RHP / Pepperdine
Khalil Lee / third round / CF / Flint Hill School (Va.)
Jace Vines / fourth round / RHP / Texas A&M
Nicholas Lopez / fifth round / SS / Creighton
Cal Jones / sixth round / CF / Dadeville (Ala.) HS
Travis Eckert / seventh round / RHP / Oregon State
Chris DeVito / eighth round / 1B / New Mexico
Walker Sheller / ninth round / RHP / Stetson
Richard Lovelady / 10th round / LHP / Kennesaw State
Vance Vizcaino / 11th round / CF / Stetson
Jeremy Gwinn / 12th round / RHP / Colby CC
Logan Gray / 13th round / 2B / Austin Peay
David McKay / 14th round / RHP / Florida Atlantic
Mike Messier / 15h round / LHP / Bellarmine
Nick Heath / 16th round / CF / Northwestern State
Dillon Drabble / 17th round / RHP / Seminole State
Vance Tatum / 18th round / LHP / Mississippi State
Tyler Fallwell / 19th round / RHP / Cochise
Anthony Bender / 20th round / RHP / Santa Rosa JC
Dalton Griffin / 21st round / CF / South Effingham HS (Ga.)
Cody Nesbit / 22nd round / RHP / San Jacinto North
Kort Peterson / 23rd round / OF / UC Los Angeles
Mike McCann / 24th round / C / Seattle
Robby Rinn / 25th round / 1B / Bryant
John Brontsema / 26th round / 3B / UC Irvine
Rex Hill / 27th round / LHP / TCU
Yordany Salva / 28th round / C / Broward
Grant Gavin / 29th round / RHP / Central Missouri
Geoffrey Bramblett / 30th round / RHP / Alabama
Malcolm Van Buren / 31st round / RHP / Hanahan (S.C.) HS
Luke Bandy / 32nd round / CF / Providence Classical Christian Academy
Kameron Misner / 33rd round / OF / Poplar Bluff (Mo.) HS
Nathan Webb / 34th round / RHP / Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North HS
M.J. Sanchez / 35th round / C / California Baptist
Alex Massey / 36th round / RHP / Tulane
Justin Camp / 37th round / RHP / Auburn
Joey Fregosi / 38th round / SS / Murrieta Valley HS (Calif.)
Chase Livingston / 39th round / C / Rhode Island
Taylor Kaczmarek / 40th round / RHP / San Diego

Chukars announce five opening-day players

On Saturday, the Chukars announced the first five players assigned to Idaho Falls. They are Igol Feliz, Arnaldo Hernandez, Drew Milligan, Tanner Stanley and Miebrys Viloria.

Milligan is a left-handed pitcher who made 17 relief appearances for I.F. last season, amassing a 4.07 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Feliz and Hernandez are both right-handed pitchers. Feliz signed with the Royals in 2011 and played for Rookie-level Burlington last season. Hernandez made one appearance (a start) for the Chukars in 2015, allowing six runs (two earned) in four innings.

Stanley, the son of former MLB catcher and first baseman Mike Stanley, is an outfielder in his second minor league season with the Royals.

Viloria is a catcher who spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 in Burlington.

Chukars beat Missoula 5-3, force winner-take-all title game

By BILL SPELTZ
The Missoulian

MISSOULA, Mont. — One fateful swing changed everything.

The Missoula Osprey appeared well on their way to a series-clinching win Tuesday night, leading Idaho Falls by three runs after four innings.

Then an error by Osprey third baseman Kal Simmons cracked the door in the fifth and Amalani Fukofuka pushed it open with a go-ahead, three-run blast.

The Osprey never recovered, dropping a 5-3 decision in Game 2 of their best-of-3 Pioneer League championship series in front of 1,568 fans at Ogren-Allegiance Park. The teams will battle tonight in a winner-take-all game at 7:05 p.m. in Missoula.

For nine innings this season, including four Tuesday, Osprey starting pitcher Cameron Smith owned the Chukars, refusing to allow a run. That all changed with two outs and two on in the fifth on an 0-2 pitch to Fukofuka.

“He battled off enough pitches and got enough of one to get it out of here and obviously that really ended up being the difference in the game,” Osprey manager Joe Mather said. “That’s their 3-hole hitter and it was against our best pitcher and he made a good swing on a pitch.”

From there the momentum stayed on the Chukars’ side. Missoula finally got something going offensively in the ninth when Jason Morozowski hit a leadoff single and Luke Lowery was hit by a Josh Staumont pitch. But Staumont responded by striking out Matt Railey and retiring Joey Armstrong on a fly ball to center.

“Fuko got us out in front, but I thought our pitchers did an outstanding job,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “(Starter Derek) Gordon, they got some runs off him early. It’s a really good baseball team here in Missoula, really good hitters. But I thought he bounced back well.”

Gordon was a warrior, allowing three runs on three hits in 62/3 innings. He also recorded 10 strikeouts, the most by a Chukars pitcher in a game all season.

From there Drew Milligan and Staumont shut down the hosts in relief.

“I actually thought (Gordon) pitched a pretty good game,” Mather said. “He was one of the better pitchers in the league. Maybe not win-loss wise but his ERA was good, he throws strikes.

“That was it. I don’t think our guys were necessarily pressing. We had 17 (runs) the game before and it’s hard to repeat that.”

The Osprey jumped on Gordon in the first inning, scoring two runs. Leadoff hitter Raymel Flores drew a walk and Morozowski drove him home on a one-out double to right center field.

The Osprey’s second run came as a result of an error by Idaho Falls first baseman Josh Banuelos. Byler hit a bouncer to first that Banuelos misplayed then threw away in haste, allowing Morozowski to score from second.

Banuelos hit a bloop single and moved to second in the Idaho Falls second inning. But Smith buckled down, striking out Marten Gasparini and Xavier Fernandez to end the threat.

Osprey catcher Francis Christy blasted a one-out solo home run to stretch his team’s lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second. Idaho Falls had a baserunner in the fourth but again Smith slammed the door, striking out Gasparini.

The Chukars’ fifth-inning rally started when a Fernandez grounder scooted under Simmons’ glove at third and rolled into left field. Two outs later, DJ Burt lined a single up the middle to set the stage for Fukofuka’s three-run blast.

Idaho Falls added an insurance run in the eighth and will take momentum into Game 3 tonight after being humbled by the Osprey at home on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

“The key (Wednesday) is going to be pitching and defense, that’s playoff baseball,” Mather said. “Hopefully we come out and score a bunch of runs early. We did that today but we couldn’t add on to it.

“These guys have a ton of fight in them left. I know they’re going to be itching to go.”

The Post Register contributed to this report

Ogden beats Chukars, creeps closer to South lead

The Idaho Falls Chukars can’t afford many bad performances the rest of the season, especially not in this two-game series at Ogden.

But on Wednesday night, they laid an egg.

I.F. lost 5-1 to the Raptors at Lindquist Field in Ogden, Utah. The Chukars now lead Ogden by two games in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings with 13 games to play.

Banuelos
Banuelos

I.F. starting pitcher Carter Hope didn’t pitch poorly overall, but a few mistakes increased his season ERA.

After retiring the first six Raptors, Hope gave up a single to third baseman Jimy Perez to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Perez got caught in a rundown a batter later, but he dodged a tag to remain on second base. Faustino Oguisten followed with a home run to left field, giving Ogden a 2-0 lead.

Hope exited the game with one out in the sixth inning after giving up a run on a single, two doubles and a walk. The right-hander was charged with five runs after an RBI double from Oguisten, who finished a triple shy of the cycle.

Hope gave up five earned runs on eight hits, one walk and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

The Chukars’ offense had chances but couldn’t deliver a run until the ninth. In the top of the third, I.F. put runners on second and third with no outs but failed to score. In the sixth and seventh, the Chukars had runners on first and second with two outs, but the rallies ended there.

Chukars second base- man D.J. Burt led off the seventh with a walk, but he was picked off. Two batters later, first baseman Josh Banuelos was called out on strikes, and the buildup of frustration reached its boiling point. Banuelos yelled at home plate umpire Luis Hernandez following the strike three call, and Hernandez ejected him. This is the first time an I.F. player has been ejected this season.

Fukofuka.
Fukofuka

Catcher Kyle Pollock hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth, but that was all I.F. could muster.

Center fielder Amalani Fukofuka went 2 for 4 with a double, shortstop Jeckson Flores went 1 for 3 with a walk and Banuelos went 1 for 4. Along with Pollock, those were the only Chukars to get hits in the game.

Burt’s walk extended his on-base streak to 43 straight games.

Drew Milligan and Josh Staumont pitched 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Staumont pitched two full innings without allowing a baserunner, and the righty struck out five of the six batters he faced.

The Chukars (31-32, 18-7) look to earn a series split against the Raptors (35-28, 16-9) tonight at 6:30.