Three hits can be enough to win if they cluster in the right moments. Those moments eluded the Idaho Falls Chukars on Tuesday night.
The Chukars had three hits for the second consecutive night against the Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park. I.F. managed four runson Monday, which would have been enough for a win the following night. That same cluster luck didn’t show up Tuesday, and the Chukars fell 3-1.
Offense falters again
Tuesday’s loss dropped the Chukars to 1-5 on their current road trip. Run prevention hasn’t been a strong suit, but the offense has been ground zero for I.F.’s struggles.
The Chukars have managed 3.5 runs and 7.2 hits per game on the road trip. They mustered one hit in a 12-0 shutout at Great Falls on Saturday, and the most runs scored in any of their six games was eight in Sunday’s win over the Voyagers.
I.F. has scored nearly eight runs per game this season (7.4, to be exact), and has averaged 8.8 at home. The Chukars have scored 6.1 runs per game away from Melaleuca Field. Their road record is now 8-17.
Tuesday’s game was getable. For the first time all second half, I.F.’s pitching staff allowed fewer than five runs in a game. Its lineup put seven runners on base and six in scoring position. The Chukars went 0 for 6 with runners on second or third base, and they stranded all but one of their seven runners.
A first for Cepin
With Alex Luna sidelined due to an oblique strain, Reinaldo Cepin got his first start of the season for I.F. The left-hander threw 50 pitches over four complete innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits, a walk and two strikeouts.
Cepin entered the game with the most innings pitched (22.1) of any I.F. reliever, and with good reason. The 22-year-old’s ERA rose to 3.76 after Tuesday’s start, and he now has 19 strikeouts against 11 walks. Cepin still hasn’t hit a batter or allowed a home run, and he’s given up 24 hits.
Player of the game
Mustangs designated hitter Taylor Trammell
Billings had 11 hits, but third place hitter Trammell and leadoff man T.J. Friedl, Jr. accounted for the only hits of consequence.
Friedl, Jr. went 2 for 4 and scored both times, first on a Trammell single and second on a Trammell double (the Mustangs’ only extra-base hit). The single scored another run, as well, so Trammell drove in all three Billings runs. He finished 3 for 4.
The Chukars (26-22 overall, 4-6 second half) and Mustangs (29-18, 6-3) wrap up their three-game series at Dehler Park at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Jace Vines (6.39 ERA) gets the start for I.F. against fellow righty Ian Kahaloa (2.36).