Tag: Helena Brewers

Recap: Chukars collapse late, lose to Brewers 7-4

Post Register | Prsports@postregister.com
Idaho Falls is still searching for consistency. And it couldn’t find any late Thursday evening against Helena.
The Brewers beat the Chukars 7-4 at Kindrick Legion Field after combing five runs in the last two innings. The loss puts the Chukars at 13-17 during the first half of the season. Helena moves to 14-16.

Darell Miller Jr. Provided via Idaho Falls Chukars

It was the first time all season the Chukars lost after leading through six innings.
Two errors allowed the Brewers to come back in the seventh inning, as the Chukars lead 4-2 heading into the frame. It started when Chukars pitcher Christopher Marte had a throwing error when Gabriel Garcia singled on a bunt and Chad McClanahan scored.
After Gilbert Lara scored KJ Harrison, Jay Feliciano reached on a fielding error by shortsop Offerman Collado with Garcia reaching home — giving Helena its second lead Thursday.
From there, Dallas Carroll hit a two-run homer to score Antonio Pinero in the bottom of the ninth before retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth. Carrol finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
The Chukars lead during the middle of the game after scoring two runs in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively.
Darrell Miller Jr. went 1 for 3 for an RBI and two runs. He has recorded a hit in every single professional game.
The Chukars — amid a seven-game road trip — will play the Brewers in game two of four in Helena today at 7:05 p.m. Fans can listen to the game on KSPZ or follow the game live on 980thezone.com.

Chukars beat Brewers, 7-5, at home

By Paul Lambert | prsports@postregister.com
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug,” or so sang Dire Sraits in their remake of the Mary Chapin Carpenter hit.

Many times the bug this season, the Idaho Falls Chukars played the role of windshield Friday night, riding timely hitting and clutch pitching in a 7-5 win over visiting Helena Brewers.

Darell Miller Jr. Provided via Idaho Falls Chukars

“We got some big hits in some big spots, and were lucky to get out of here with a win tonight,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “These kids are young and competitive, and they’re giving it their all.”

Idaho Falls starting pitcher Janser Lara left the bases loaded in the first, wriggling off the hook thanks to strong defensive plays from shortstop Julio Gonzalez and left fielder Vance Vizcaino.

Lara reached his pitch count early, leaving five Missoula runners on base through two shutout innings, but not before running his team-best strikeout total to 22 (over 15 and 2/3 innings)

Cleanup hitter Darrell Miller, Jr., got the Chukars on the board in the first, driving home Amalani Fukofuka with a line drive to left.

The hit was Miller’s 20th as a professional, and he has now had a hit in every game of his 9-game professional career, coming into the game hitting .528.

Miller, Fukofuka and Vizcaino all came around to score in the first, staking Lara to an early 3-0 lead.

Adding to a fun night for the Idaho Falls catcher, Miller also gunned down Helena’s Chad McClanahan on a steal attempt to end the third inning.

“It has been unreal,” Miller said of his early success as a pro. “I love this town, and the Royals organization really helps you learn things in a way to help you get the most out of every situation.”

Also putting the handcuffs on a would-be Helena thief, Fukofuka gunned down Payton Henry who was attempting to tag up and take third on a flyball to right – drawing a standing-ovation from a large number of the 2,874 in attendance at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars added one in the fifth and three more in the sixth, taking advantage of three Helena errors to score four runs and take a 7-2 lead

That 3-spot in the sixth came in handy as the Brewers kept whittling away in the latter innings, scoring one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

Leading 7-5 entering the top of the ninth, Idaho Falls called on former Pittsburgh Panther standout Josh Mitchell who picked up his first professional save.

The crafty southpaw worked a 1-2-3 inning to wrap things up, striking out Nicolas Pierre for the final out, giving the Chukars their 11th win of the season.

The Chukars (11-14) continue their seven-game homestand tonight, playing the first of four against the Missoula Osprey (13-12). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.

Chukars beat Brewers 7-2 to halt four-game losing skid

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
For the Chukars, well, late is better than never.

Marte (via Chukars media)

Idaho Falls snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday night at Melaleuca Field, beating Helena 7-2 after scoring seven unanswered runs — five of which came in the sixth frame — to earn its first win in six days.

The win gives the Chukars 10 wins on the season (10-14), and puts them 6.5 games behind the first place Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League south division standings. The Chukars are tied for third with Grand Junction (10-14).

Thursday’s win came late, as the Chukars responded to an early 2-0 deficit with seven unaswered runs of their own.

Helena lead 2-0 after the second inning, as Chad McClanahan and Dallas Carroll scored early RBIs off pitcher Holden Capps. Capps would finish the night with six strikeouts, four hits and two runs during five innings pitched.

But it was five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning that snapped Idaho Falls’ recent bad luck. Julio Gonzalez and Cristhian Vasquez helped pull Idaho Falls out of its slump, combining for three hits and five RBIs, respectively.

Jonathan McCray’s home run in the bottom of the eighth was the exclamation point. The home run was his third of the season.

It was the first time the Chukars scored more than four runs since their 7-4 win over the Raptors last Friday.

What’s important:

The Chukars snapped a four-game losing skid by beating the Brewers at home Thursday night.

Player (s) of the game:

Julio Gonzalez, Cristhian Vasquez and Christopher Marte. All three played an important role in Thursday’s win. Gonzalez went 1 for 5, but made the most of his one hit. He tallied three RBIs and had a stolen base. Vasquez went 2 for 2, one run and had two RBIs. Marte (2-2) was sharp with his pitches. He only allowed one hit in four frames pitched. He struck out two batters, too.


Idaho Falls returns to Melaleuca Field Friday to play Helena in game three of a three-game series. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Brewers down Chukars, 7-4, with extra base hits

By Luke O’Roark | Loroark@postregister.com | @Lukeoroark
The scoring came in spurts Wednesday, but when it did, it came in bunches.
The Brewers batters were controlled at the plate, but it was extra base hits that downed Idaho Falls at home in a 7-4 loss at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars fall to 9-14 and have lost eight of the previous 10 games. They are now 4-7 at home.
Chukars’ pitcher Robert Garcia (0-1) showed decent control on the mound: five hits allowed, four earned runs and eight strikeouts. He did allow one home run in the first inning. The Chukars are 5-9 when they allow a home run this season.

Chukars infielder Tyler Straub (18) gets ready to catch the ball while Brewers infielder Dallas Carroll (29) goes to slide to the base during a regular season game at Melaluca on Wednesday night.

But when the Brewers did make contact with Garcia’s pitches, they did damage. Six hits went for extra bases — four doubles and two triples.
“Those guys jumped on us early,” Chukars’ hitting coach Damon Hollins said. “Big three-run home run at the plate, and obviously we have to do more at the plate. We got to bear down a little bit.”
The Brewers took an early 3-0 lead after Payton Henry hit a home run off Garcia in the first inning. Dallas Carroll and KJ Harrison crossed home plate, too.
Vance Vizcaino, one of the Chukars most consistent batters, responded to the early 3-0 deficit with a two-run home run of his own. The home run was his second this season.
“Well, he’s a very smart baseball player,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said of Vizcaino. “He’s athletic. He can play multiple outfield positions. He can run. He can bunt. As you saw tonight, he can hit with some power.”
Up 3-2, the Brewers (12-11) then answered Vizcaino’s home run with four runs though five frames and held their lead in the bottom of the ninth in controversial fashion.

Jake Wakamatsu hit a double in the bottom of the ninth, but, per umpires Rob Headley and Tyler Johnson, forgot to tag first. He was then called out when Brewers Parker Bean lobbed the ball to first base — sending Wakamatsu to the dugout and dampening the Chukars’ attempt at a comeback.
“He said he hit the edge of the corner, but if the umpires say he missed it, there’s no replay at this level, we have to go with what they say,” Hollins said. “Obviously it sucks for us. To have him on second base with no outs in a three-run game right there, figured to have something going and to have him go back, it sucks but at the same time, you gotta make sure you’re clear on what you’re doing and (umpires), they’re human, too.”

“From my vantage point, he hit first and got to second for a double, but then their dugout starts yelling,” Gemoll said. “So it was one of the things, where, unfortunately, the umpire said he did miss the base and they called him out.”

What’s important:

Despite a stronger showing than its three-game sweep on the road to Orem, Idaho Falls’s offense couldn’t keep up with Helena’s extra-base hits.

Player (s) of the game:

Vance Vizcaino. Went 2 for 4 Wednesday including a two-run home run.


“These type of games at this level, it’s going to be like that. You know, you gotta find a way to bear down, pitchers got to find a way to make adjustments, and as the offense, you gotta fight. You gotta come out and compete every single pitch.” – Chukars hitting coach Damon Hollins


– Wednesday’s attendance was announced at 3,183.

– Manager Justin Gemoll was tossed out of Wednesday’s game after arguing with umpire Tyler Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jake Wakamatsu hit a double, attempting to rally the Chukars, but was called out at first after he failed to tag first tag.

– A fire alarm went off during Wednesday’s game, causing minor turmoil. It was called a false alarm by PA announcer Javier Hernandez. The alarm then went off again.

– Infielder Dalton Griffin is listed as “suspended” according to MiLB.com. The website does not state how long he will be suspended for. Gemoll did not clarify Griffin’s suspension after Wednesday’s game.

– Amalani Fukofuka (batting a .338 on 80 at-bats) changed his walk-up song for the fourth time Wednesday. He’s played 19 games.

– The Chukars received four pitchers from the Arizona League: Holden Capps, Andrew Beckwith, Josh Mitchell and Daniel Hrbek. In exchange three were sent to AZL: Randy Acevedo, Jose De Leon and Andres Sotillet. Acevedo pitched 19 innings and had a 6.63 ERA. De Leon (1-0) had a 9.35 ERA in 8 and 2/3 innings pitched. Sotillet (0-2) had a 10.57 ERA in 15 and 1/3 innings pitched. He started four games.

Chukars infielder Offerman Collado (1) runs to second base during a regular season game against the Brewers on Wednesday night at Melaluca Field.

– Delta Dental of Idaho is partnering with the Chukars to collect canned food for the Community Food Basket of Idaho, per a press release sent to the Post Register. Fans, and those who want to partake in the food drive, can bring canned food to Melaleuca Field Thursday evening (July 13) at 6 p.m.


Idaho Falls will return to Melaleuca Field to play Helena to continue a seven-game homestand. First pitch Thursday is 7:15 p.m.

Chukars extend their affiliation with the Kansas City Royals through 2018


The Idaho Falls Chukars will remain a Rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals for at least two more seasons.

The Chukars and Royals agreed to an extension through 2018, the Chukars announced Wednesday. Before the extension was finalized, the affiliation was going to expire at the end of this season.

“We are truly excited to continue our partnership with the Idaho Falls Chukars,” Royals director of minor league operations Ronnie Richardson said in a news release. “The Idaho Falls organization and the entire community continue to embrace our players and staff each year, and that truly makes Idaho Falls a special place to develop our players.”

The Chukars have been a Royals affiliate since 2004, so Wednesday’s extension will give them 15 seasons (and counting) in Kansas City’s system. The only MLB club to have I.F. as an affiliate for a longer period of time was the California Angels from 1965 to 1981.

“We couldn’t be happier with the relationship that we have developed with the Kansas City Royals over the past 12 1⁄2 seasons,” Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said in the news release.

The Chukars have made three Pioneer League championship series since 2004. They beat Helena in 2013 for their only league title as a Royals affiliate.

Chukars stay tied for first with 9-2 win over Brewers


Errors and poor pitching led to the Idaho Falls Chukars’ late-inning collapse on Friday. So how did they respond? By committing zero errors and shutting down the Helena Brewers’ lineup.

I.F.’s lineup was its usual self, as well. All of those ingredients added up to a 9-2 win over Helena on Saturday night at Kindrick Legion Field. The victory kept the Chukars tied with Orem for first place in the Pioneer League South standings.


In one inning, I.F.’s lineup turned a pitchers’ dual into a comfortable lead. One inning later, the game became a laugher.

The Chukars and Brewers were tied at 1-1 heading into the fifth. Ryan Dale reached on an error to start the inning, sparking a four-run rally.

Dale led off the sixth with a walk, which sparked another four-run inning.

Catcher MJ Sanchez, shortstop Ricky Aracena and right fielder Yeison Melo recorded a hit in both the fifth and sixth. Sanchez provided the only extra-base hit a double in the two frames, and he finished the game 3 for 4.

The Chukars surrendered a 6-1 lead the night before. 9-1 proved too much for Helena to overcome, thanks in large part to their starting pitcher.

Sneaky Arnaldo


Chukars right-hander Arnaldo Hernandez has a quick pickoff move to first base that has sniped baserunners all season. Hernandez picked off another one Saturday, upping his season total to four.

The way he was pitching Saturday, Helena couldn’t afford to lose baserunners. Hernandez went 5.2 innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. It was tied for his longest start of the season.

Two-team race

The Ogden Raptors are four games back of the Chukars and Owlz, but their chances of catching either team in the first half ended Saturday with a loss. The South division has two teams vying for the first half title, and four games remain.

I.F. (20-14) wraps up its four-game series at Helena (13-21) on Sunday and travels to Missoula (13-21) for three games starting Monday.

Orem, meanwhile, wraps up its four-game home series with Great Falls (18-16) on Sunday. The Owlz (20-14) then host Billings (21-13) for a three-game set starting Monday.

Billings and Great Falls are the only teams still breathing in the North division, but the Mustangs can clinch the first half title on Sunday with a win and a Voyagers loss.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Arnaldo Hernandez

Five I.F. batters recorded at least two hits, but Hernandez kept the Chukars in the game and clamped down after his lineups two big innings.

Up next

First pitch between the Chukars and Brewers Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Igol Feliz gets the start for I.F. against fellow righty Karsen Lindell.

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.

Local umpires step up at Chukars games

Umpires Conner Culhane (left) and Chris Sundvold talk during the Idaho Falls Chukars’ game against the Helena Brewers on July 15 at Melaleuca Field. Sundvold filled in for an injured Jacob Botek. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Umpires Conner Culhane (left) and Chris Sundvold talk during the Idaho Falls Chukars’ game against the Helena Brewers on July 15 at Melaleuca Field. Sundvold filled in for an injured Jacob Botek. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

Teagan Smith knows Melaleuca Field well, but the ballpark looked foreign to him last Thursday.

Smith umpired an Idaho Falls Chukars game for the first time in his 10-year umpiring career.

His experience at Melaleuca Field is exclusive to high school games, which might feature 100 fans on a good night. The attendance at last Thursday’s game between the Chukars and Helena Brewers was 3,177.

The mix of a large crowd and professional stakes led to a bundle of nerves for Smith, who was filling in for the injured Jacob Botek. But the butterflies fluttered away once the game got rolling.

“It’s just baseball,” Smith said.

Smith was one of three local umpires who picked up Botek’s slack during the Chukars’ most recent homestand. Idaho Falls general manager Kevin Greene is tasked with finding replacement umpires. Conflicting schedules and low pay sometimes make that job difficult.

On the rare occasions when Greene needs to find a replacement umpire, he turns to Brent Martin. Martin is the District 6 commissioner for umpires and rules interpreter, and he has filled in at Chukars games for years. Martin declined to umpire last week due to a bad knee, so he recommended Smith and Brad Hadley to Greene.

Hadley worked with Pioneer League umpire Conner Culhane on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. But neither Hadley nor Smith could work Friday’s game due to their previous commitments as umpires for American Legion baseball games. That left Greene in a bind.

“I called the (Pioneer) League president and said, ‘I’ve got no one,’ Greene said. “He said, ‘Kevin, you’ve gotta find someone.’”

Greene eventually got Chris Sundvold to fill in.

Players and coaches know the replacement umpires are not professionals, but the umpires didn’t poor treatment from the teams. And Smith, Hadley and Sundvold umpired relatively clean games. It’s just baseball, after all.

The only real issue is finding umpires, and scheduling is not the only conflicting factor.

The Pioneer League pays replacement umpires $75 per game, according to league president Jim McCurdy. Martin said umpires get paid about $75 for Legion games, and that number spikes to $120 for doubleheaders. Barring extra innings, Legion games last seven innings, and mercy rules can reduce game times even more. Every Pioneer League game goes at least nine innings, and umpires are required to show up an hour before first pitch.

“You should be getting $100, minimum, for a professional baseball game,” Martin said. “We don’t want to bleed them dry, but we think we should be compensated at least to the high school level or better.”

Umpires can make more than $75 for Pioneer League games, but the extra cash comes out of the team’s wallet, Greene said, and there’s only so much room in the budget. McCurdy said increased pay for replacement umps has not been discussed in recent league meetings.

Hadley doesn’t mind the meager pay. For one, the opportunities for local umpires to work Chukars games are so rare that the money they receive hardly affects their total income. Martin, for instance, hasn’t umped a Chukars game since 2014.

Hadley also considers it a privilege to work Chukars games.

“It’s fun to say that you’ve umped a (professional) game, even though it’s minor league,” he said. “I’m not too worried about the pay because it’s not that big of a deal.”

Errors, hard-hit outs doom Chukars in 4-3 loss to Brewers


The Idaho Falls Chukars returned from another prosperous homestand with a low-scoring, error-ridden road loss. Story of their season.

Idaho Falls threatened late but fell to the Helena Brewers 4-3 on Thursday at Kindrick Legion Field. Orem beat Great Falls 5-3, so the Owlz and Chukars are now tied for first place in the Pioneer League South Division with six games remaining in the first half.

Road woes continue

The Chukars have won 15 of their 19 home games this season. They would have a comfortable division lead if they were merely average on the road. Instead, I.F.’s road record is 4-9 following Thursday’s loss.

The Chukars, however, have a run differential of zero on the road. Teams with zero run differentials generally sit around .500, since close games are so variant. I.F. is 4-7 in one-run games this season, and is 1-6 on the road. A little more luck and the Chukars’ would be around .500 in away games.

The Chukars also haven’t been the same offensive team away from Melaleuca Field. They average 9.0 runs per game at home and just 6.6 on the road.

The first half concludes at the end of I.F.’s current road trip, so the Chukars will need to reverse their road fortune if they want to win the first half title.

Contact lens

The Chukars scored three runs on nine hits Thursday. Those results constitute an underperformance on offense, but they obscure the number of hard-hit balls that found gloves.

I.F. batters hit seven line-outs, according to MiLB.com’s play-by-play of the game, and those don’t include sharp groundouts or deep fly balls.

Many factors have contributed to I.F.’s 1-6 road record in one-run games. Compilations of hard-hit outs have exacerbated the losing.

Dark and full of errors

I.F. has yet to put together a long stretch of low-error games this season.

The Chukars committed four more Thursday, increasing their Pioneer League-leading total to 80 (or 2.5 per game). The league’s second-most error-prone team is Ogden, and it has committed only 56 (1.8 per game) this summer.

Player of the game

Brewers starting pitcher Jordan Desguin

If the Chukars were going to score, Desguin wasn’t going to help them out. The right-hander threw 48 of his 69 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk anyone. He only allowed four hits and struck out four in six innings, allowing one earned run.

Up next

Lefty Matt Portland is scheduled to get the start for the Chukars (19-13) against righty Nash Walters of the Brewers (12-20). First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. back at Kindrick Legion Field.

Chukars cruise 9-2 with World Series trophy at Melaleuca Field


Wendy Barckholtz takes a photograph of her children Zane, 13, and Mallory, 8, along with the World Series Trophy on display at Melaleuca Field on Friday evening. The family came from Buhl to watch the Chukars play. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Wendy Barckholtz takes a photograph of her children Zane, 13, and Mallory, 8, along with the World Series Trophy on display at Melaleuca Field on Friday evening. The family came from Buhl to watch the Chukars play. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Curt Nelson “woke up” the 2015 World Series trophy at 6 a.m. on Friday.

Nelson, the director of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame, put the trophy in a case and wheeled it out of Kauffman Stadium. The two headed to Kansas City International Airport, where they caught a flight to Denver at 9 a.m. From Denver, Nelson and the Commissioner’s Trophy flew to Idaho Falls.

The trophy’s final destination was Melaleuca Field, where it was on display during the Idaho Falls Chukars’ 9-2 win over the Helena Brewers Friday night. It was the first visit to I.F. in the trophy’s 49-year history.

Trophy life

The Commissioner’s Trophy has now visited five of Kansas City’s six minor league affiliates (the other Rookie-level team, Burlington, will get the trophy in August). These visits must work around the Royals’ schedule because the trophy is displayed for all 81 games in Kansas City. The Chukars got an opening this weekend with the Royals playing in Detroit.

The World Series Championship trophy is on display at Melaleuca Field. The trophy is being taken to all the Kansas City Royals affiliate team sites. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
The World Series Championship trophy is on display at Melaleuca Field. The trophy is being taken to all the Kansas City Royals affiliate team sites. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Nelson flew coach on his trip to Idaho Falls. Sitting next to him was the trophy, with a seat belt around its base and everything. Passengers gawked.

“The question I get most often is, “Is that the real one?” Nelson said.

Nelson handles the trophy with white gloves, but he doesn’t worry about the trophy — which cost tens of thousands of dollars to make — getting broken or stolen. In fact, the trophy sat on a plastic table and was not covered as fans took photos with it.

“I try not to get too nervous,” he said. “I have to remind myself to be careful with it.”

The trophy will also be displayed during Saturday’s game, and it will fly back to Kansas City on Sunday morning.

Swept away

Many I.F. players saw the Commissioner’s Trophy in person for the first time. An easy narrative would be to credit the trophy — and the 3,280 fans that came to see it — for I.F.’s dominant win.

Helena’s Ronnie Gideon just makes it to second base as Idaho Falls’ Angelo Castellano fields the ball during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Helena’s Ronnie Gideon just makes it to second base as Idaho Falls’ Angelo Castellano fields the ball during Friday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

But the Chukars played like this well before the trophy arrived. Friday’s win completed a three-game sweep and increased their winning streak to four. I.F. won all four games by at least six runs.

“For those guys, it’s good to actually see (the trophy),” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said of his players. “It shows them what they’re working for, the ultimate goal of winning a world championship. I don’t know if it had any effect on our game or not. These guys have been playing hard since we got them.”

Everything was firing on Friday. Matt Portland had a no-hitter through four, the defense made few mistakes and every batter recorded a hit. Luke Willis and David Edwards each hit their third home runs of the season, and Yeison Melo hit his first — a 428-foot, three-run blast in the fourth.

“I feel comfortable hitting the ball right now,” Melo said through translator Ramon Castro, I.F.’s bench coach.

A different World Series celebration

The Chukars’ pitching coach Friday was not Jeff Suppan. In his stead was Royals minor league pitching coordinator Larry Carter.

Suppan is visiting St. Louis this weekend for a reunion with his former teammates on the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Suppan started game four of that World Series, allowing three earned runs in six innings. The Cardinals won that game 5-4 and closed out the series a game later.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Matt Portland

The left-hander was literally unhittable for the first four innings. He struggled in the fifth, allowing two runs on Helena’s only three hits of the game.

Overall, Portland allowed two earned runs with three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Up next

The Chukars (16-11) begin a four-game series against the Missoula Osprey (11-16) at 7:15 p.m. Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to start for I.F.