Life is good for the Idaho Falls Chukars at Melaleuca Field this summer.
The Chukars failed to reach 10 hits at home for the first time in 11 games (they finished with nine) Monday, but they came through when it counted. And combined with the dominating and efficient pitching of Andres Machado, Cole Way and Reinaldo Cepin, Idaho Falls cruised to a 7-0 win over the Missoula Osprey that sent the crowd of 3,502 fans home in 2 hours and 13 minutes.
The win pushed Idaho Falls to 14-4 at the friendly confines on Jim Garchow Way. Idaho Falls is tied with Orem for first place in the Pioneer League South Division at 18-12.
There’s efficient, and then there’s the performances turned in by Idaho Falls’ pitching trio Monday. Machado set the tone,allowing a double to Eudy Ramos with one out in the second inning but nothing else. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander pounded the strike zone, didn’t walk a hitter and struck out four in five innings. And he did it on just 51 pitches.
“He was dominating,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “He had a good fastball, he had command … He was on.”
Machado was followed by the 6-foot-10 lefty Way, who allowed just one hit while striking out two in two scoreless innings. Cepin finished it off, giving up two hits and striking out one in two innings.
Idaho Falls entered the game as the Pioneer League’s best hitting team. They added nine hits in 31 at bats to that total, giving the Chukars a .326 team batting average. And while they didn’t reach double digits Monday, they were timely when it mattered.
Ricky Aracena got things started with a leadoff walk, Angelo Castellano moved him to second on a fielder’s choice, Manny Olloque got him to third with a sac fly and Meibrys Villoria brought him home with a single to center.
Idaho Falls followed the same pattern in the second, with Nick Heath drawing a leadoff walk, Ryan Dale following with a single, Luke Willis adding a sac bunt and Castellano scoring Heath with a single to left.
The Chukars broke it open in the third, highlighted by Dale’s two-run single to center.
“They’ve got a consistent approach,” Gemoll said. “They’re locked in on what they want to hit.”
Player of the game
The honor has to go to Machado, who picked up his first win of the season. The native of Carabobo, Venezuela, has allowed just one run in the last 14 innings. Machado’s ERA was 13.50 after his first outing, 10.13 after his second and 7.62 after his third. It sits at 4.00 after Monday’s gem.
The Chukars and Osprey wrap up their four-game series at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Melaleuca Field. Idaho Falls is then off Wednesday before opening a four-game series in Helena, Mont. on Thursday.
CHUKARS 11, OSPREY 3: Idaho Falls kept its good streak going, piling up 17 hits and rolling to its fifth win in the past five games in front of 1,104 fans Sunday at Melaleuca Field.
Designated hitter Yeison Melo led the attack, going 4 for 4 while pushing his batting average to .351. Melo singled twice, doubled and belted a two-run homer in the third inning.
But Melo was far from the only hitting hero. Shortstop Ricky Aracena went 3 for 3, drew a walk and scored three runs, Third baseman Manny Olloque was 3 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI while second baseman Jordan Ebert went 3 for 5 with a double, a run and two RBIs for Idaho Falls.
That was more than enough support for Chukars starter Igol Feliz. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty worked a solid seven innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season. Lefty Christian Flecha got the final six outs, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one.