Tag: Jace Vines

Chukars split doubleheader with Raptors

Viloria
Viloria

A day that started out so well ended with the Idaho Falls Chukars one loss closer to elimination.

Idaho Falls opened Saturday with a tidy 3-2 win over the Ogden Raptors in the first game of a doubleheader at Lindquist Field. The Chukars got some more good news later in the night when Pioneer League South Division leader Grand Junction fell to Orem.

But the good news didn’t last as Idaho Falls’ bats went silent in a 7-1 loss in the nightcap that pushed the Chukars 4.5 games behind the Rockies with just five games to play. Any combination of I.F. losses and Grand Junction wins equaling two will end the Chukars’ playoff hopes.

In Saturday’s opener, Igol Feliz extended the Chukars’ run of strong starts with an impressive six-inning performance. Feliz (3-3, 5.08 ERA) allowed just five hits and didn’t walk a batter while striking out five. Richard Lovelady pitched around two walks in the seventh to earn his fifth save.

And the offense did just enough, getting a run in the second on Joe Dudek’s RBI double to right, and two more in the seventh on RBI singles from Nick Dini and Meibrys Viloria.

The momentum didn’t carry over into Game 2. Ogden grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second and led 7-0 after four. That was more than enough for starting pitcher Sven Schuller, who allowed just two hits while striking out three in five shutout innings.

Andres Machado, who has been one of I.F.’s best pitchers this season, allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out five in three innings.

Idaho Falls didn’t score until the seventh and managed just five hits.

Player of the game

Idaho Falls catcher Meibrys Viloria

Viloria was a bright spot Saturday, going a combined 3 for 7 with a run scored and two RBIs. He also hit his 28th double, leaving him two shy of tying the Pioneer League single-season record.

Up next

The Chukars and Raptors finish their four-game at 4 p.m. today in Ogden. Jace Vines (1-6, 6.04) is scheduled to start for Idaho Falls. The Chukars then play two games in Orem before closing the regular season with two more against Orem at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mustangs hand the Chukars another ugly loss

Dale
Dale

Even hits yielded negative results for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Tuesday night.

With two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the ninth, Chukars first baseman Ryan Dale looped a hit down the right field line. Dale tried to stretch it into a double and give I.F. a whiff of hope. Billings’ Jose Siri squashed the rally by throwing Dale out at second base.

Dale’s out sealed a 7-2 win for the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. I.F.’s second-half record fell to 5-11, the worst in the Pioneer League.

“We’re more concerned, at this level, not necessarily with the wins and losses,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “The more consistent they can get with their preparation, their concentration, their attitude, all that kind of stuff, that’s what will translate into the games.”

Billings erupts in the eighth 

The Chukars trailed 2-1 heading into the top of the eighth inning. The way their lineup has hit the Mustangs, the deficit felt larger.

Billings filled the gap between perception and reality by scoring five runs in the top of the eighth inning. Four hits, two walks and two errors led to the five runs, which all came against Enmanuel Cammacho.

Unlike the Mustangs, the Chukars struggled with runners in scoring position, going 1 for 9 on the night. The Mustangs’ four pitchers allowed nine hits, one walk and two earned runs while striking out 12.

Billings has held the Chukars to 2.6 runs per game, peaking at five runs on Monday night.

Errors persist

I.F.’s Jace Vines made one of his best starts of the season, allowing one earned run on three hits, three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Richard Lovelady and Nick Andros combined to toss 3.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Cammacho pitched better than his line suggests.

And yet, the Mustangs won handily. Defensive miscues were a big reason why.

An error by I.F. shortstop Ricky Aracena (his league-leading 28th) led to Billings’ go-ahead run in the fifth. David Edwards overthrew Dale on a double play attempt in the top of the eighth. An accurate, on-time throw would have ended the inning with Billings up 3-1.

The Chukars committed four total errors Tuesday , giving them 10 the last two games. They’ve now piled up 124 errors on the season, good for nearly 20 percent of the league’s total. I.F. has more than twice as many as the Mustangs, whose 56 errors are a league-low.

“Some of (the errors) are a result of being too aggressive, where we’re trying to be too quick and we get ahead of ourselves,” Gemoll said. “We don’t want to take the aggressiveness away from them. We love the aggressiveness. At the same time, control it a little bit.”

Player of the game 

Mustangs right fielder Jose Siri 

Siri went 2 for 5 with his ninth home run of the season, a 421-foot solo shot to kick off Billings’ eighth inning rally .

Up next 

The Mustangs (34-19 overall, 11-4 second half) will go for the series win over the Chukars (27-27, 5-11) at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Melaleuca Field. I.F. lefty Reinaldo Cepin (3.76 ERA) is schedule to start against righty Moises Nova (5.40 ERA).

 

Chukars’ bats remain quiet in a 3-1 loss to Billings

Cepin
Cepin

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.

Up next

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).

Chukars return from the all-star break with a 7-3 loss at Great Falls

Vines
Vines

The Idaho Falls Chukars took three days off for the Pioneer League-Northwest League All-Star break, but they continued to struggle on the road.

Chukars starting pitcher Jace Vines had his worst start of the season, and the bats produced one hit with runners in scoring position. Those factors led to a 7-3 loss to Great Falls on Thursday night at Centene Stadium at Legion Park.

I.F. fell to 7-13 on the road this season.

Stranded

Hits weren’t the problem for I.F. on Thursday. Timing was.

The Chukars outhit the Voyagers 9-8, but they went a measly 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Great Falls went 4 for 16 with RISP and left six on base.

Jordan Ebert and Nick Heath both singled to lead off the third inning, putting runners on the corners for Angelo Castellano. I.F.’s second baseman grounded out to score Ebert, cutting Great Falls’ lead to 3-1. Leadoff hitter Rudy Martin struck out and Ricky Aracena grounded out to strand Heath at second.

Down 7-3 in the top of the seventh, the Chukars got two on with one out and loaded the bases with two outs. None of those runners crossed the plate.

Tangled Vines

Vines was nothing if not consistent in his previous three starts, allowing three runs and lasting five innings in each. None of the three runs he allowed last Wednesday at Missoula were earned.

Vines took a hop back Thursday.

The Voyagers hit for the cycle against Vines, who lasted 4.2 innings. The right-hander allowed seven earned runs on eight hits, four walks and four strikeouts.

Vines now has a 6.39 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Viloria’s streak continues

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria extended his hitting streak to 18 games (19 counting Tuesday’s all-star game). He went 1 for 3 with an RBI single and a walk against the Voyagers.

Viloria’s .445 batting average is No. 1 in the Pioneer League by 45 points.

Player of the game

Voyagers catcher Casey Schroeder

In addition to handling four pitchers, Schroeder went 2 for 4 with a two-run triple and an RBI double.

Up next

The Chukars (25-18, 3-2 second half) and Voyagers (23-19, 2-2) return to Centene Stadium Friday at 7 p.m. Left-hander Matt Portland (7.11 ERA) is scheduled to start for I.F.

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 turn on the power late, beat Osprey 6-5

Chukars infielders David Edwards (left) and Manny Olloque (right) high-five their teammates after Idaho Falls’ 6-5 win over Missoula on Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Chukars infielders David Edwards (left) and Manny Olloque (right) high-five their teammates after Idaho Falls’ 6-5 win over Missoula on Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ lineup might take a while to wake up, but it never sleepwalks through a game.

That was the case again Tuesday. The Chukars didn’t record a baserunner through three innings, and they were hitless through four. No matter. They finished with 10 hits and a 6-5 win over the Missoula Osprey Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. I.F. now occupies first place in the Pioneer League South by itself.

Power out, power in

First pitch of Tuesday’s game was delayed 15 minutes due to a power outage that affected the entire region. Everything returned back to normal at Melaleuca Field around 6:45 p.m., except for the Chukars’ offense.

The team that averaged 8.3 runs on 10.9 hits per game heading into Tuesday was shut down the first four innings by right-hander Chester Pimentel. Not only did he hold I.F. hitless for four innings, he struck out six batters over that span.

Then the Chukars’ lights turned on.

Five singles led to three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Chukars suddenly had a two-run lead. Before that inning, it was easy to forget that Alex Luna I.F.’s best starting pitcher was also pitching a gem. He finished with three earned runs in 5.2 innings, but he only allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight.

The Osprey regained the lead against Luna and Brian Bayliss in the top of the sixth, but a 5-3 deficit to the Chukars is like a summit reachable by wheelchair.

Sure enough, the Chukars scored once in the bottom of the sixth to inch closer. Meibrys Viloria led off the bottom of the eighth, and the outcome of his at-bat felt comically predicable. Viloria skied a 400-plus-foot home run to right field. The next batter, David Edwards, launched a pitch the opposite way over the left field wall to give I.F. the lead for good.

“You play to the last out of the ballgame, and that’s kind of the attitude these guys have taken,” Chukars pitching coach Andre David said. “That’s a good learning experience for them as they move up, to understand that you’re competing every pitch. That’s how you get better, is to be able to compete through the tough times as well as the good times.”

The Chukars have now won five games this season in which they trailed in the seventh inning or later. They’re also 15-4 at home.

Alone at the top

I.F.’s win, coupled with Orem’s 5-3 loss to Billings, vaulted the Chukars into first place alone in the South Division. I.F. has a 19-12 record with seven games left in the first half.

The Chukars were also at home on July 19 last year for their 31st game. They beat Billings 4-2 in 11 innings that night to improve to 11-20, and they finished the first half 13-25.

Melo named player of the week

Chukars outfielder Yeison Melo hit .520 last week, making him an easy choice for the Pioneer League player of the week.

From July 11 to 17, Melo went 13 for 25 with a double, triple and his first two home runs of the season.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

Viloria might cool down this season, but don’t hold your breath. The catcher went 3 for 4 with key hits: the game-tying home run and an RBI single in the sixth to cut Missoula’s lead to 5-4.

Viloria is now batting .472 in 89 at-bats this season.

Up next

The Chukars get Wednesday off and begin an eight-day road trip on Thursday at Helena (11-20). Jace Vines is scheduled to take on fellow right-hander Jordan Desguin in game one of the four-game series.

Chukars’ home prosperity continues with 8-2 win

Luna
Luna

After a week away from Melaleuca Field, the Idaho Falls Chukars looked revitalized Wednesday.

The offense was its usual destructive self, the defense was crisp and the pitching was stingy. It was the team road crowds have rarely seen and I.F. crowds have grown accustomed to.

In the end, the Chukars beat the Helena Brewers 8-2.

Home cooking

A team succeeding at home isn’t news, but the Chukars have been especially potent at Melaleuca Field and lackluster on the road.

Wednesday’s win improved I.F.’s home record to 10-3, compared to 4-8 on the road. The Chukars have a 32-run differential at home, while their road differential is minus-1.

I.F.’s success this season has sprung from its bats, which delivered again on Wednesday.

The Chukars drew four walks and piled up 15 hits, including three that went for extra bases. Designated hitter Yeison Melo went 3 for 5 with a triple, while left fielder Luke Willis, catcher Meibrys Viloria, center fielder Rudy Martin and second baseman Jordan Ebert each added two hits.

The defense only committed one error and made multiple highlight plays, such as Ebert’s leaping catch that prevented a run and began an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning.

Alex Luna, Sam Selman and Christian Flecha fell into some holes but clamped down whenever Helena smelled a rally.

Olloque’s scare

Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque was absent from the lineup Wednesday because he was involved in a car accident before the game.

One of I.F.’s bat boys was driving the car, and Olloque said the other driver was at fault. The front of the bat boy’s car was smashed and the airbags inflated on impact, but none of the passengers were seriously hurt.

“Luckily, we were wearing our seat belts,” Olloque said.

The airbags left lingering pain in Olloque’s chest, which led the Chukars’ coaching staff to hold him out of Wednesday’s game. Olloque believed he could have played, and he said he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game.

Roster moves

The Chukars made several roster changes on Wednesday.

Tanner Stanley (.337 average, .883 OPS in 89 at-bats for I.F.) moved up to Single-A Lexington. Fellow outfielder Leland Clemmons (5 for 10 with a home run for I.F.) was released.

The Chukars also added three players from the Arizona League: Ebert, Martin and right-handed pitcher Paul Young. Martin played two games for the Chukars last season.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Alex Luna

Luna got into some hairy jams thanks to nine hits allowed, but he escaped them all. Throwing strikes was a main key to his success. He struck out five and walked none on 55 strikes against 25 balls.

Luna has allowed two earned runs in his last three starts (17.2 total innings). His season ERA is now 2.08, and he’s struck out 29 while walking six.

Up next

Jace Vines will start for the Chukars (14-11) against fellow righty Rodrigo Benoit. First pitch against the Brewers (10-15) is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Chukars’ rally comes up short in Ogden

Flecha
Flecha

The Idaho Falls Chukars and Ogden Raptors left a large chunk of offense in Idaho Falls, but they played their second close game in Ogden.

A night after the Raptors won 4-3 in 10 innings, they held on for a 5-4 win on Thursday at Lindquist Field. The tight victory completed a two-game sweep for Ogden over I.F.

Chukars make it interesting

When Ogden took a 5-0 lead after four innings, three Chukars had reached base (one single, two walks). But I.F. did not go quietly.

Angelo Castellano walked, Manny Olloque reached on an error and Meibrys Viloria and Yeison Melo each hit RBI doubles in the top of the sixth, cutting the deficit to 5-3.

In the top of the ninth, Tanner Stanley scored on a two-out wild pitch to decrease the deficit to 5-4. Olloque followed that up with a single, but Viloria grounded out to second base to end the game.

This was I.F.’s seventh one-run game of the season. The Chukars are now 3-4 in those contests.

Flecha holds the fort

I.F.’s late offensive surge wouldn’t have mattered if Christian Flecha struggled.

The left-hander replaced starting pitcher Jace Vines (five earned runs, six hits, two walks, four strikeouts) in the fifth inning, and he finished the game. Flecha pitched 3.2 scoreless innings, allowed one hit and one walk and struck out three.

Flecha’s shutdown performance came four days after he gave up three earned runs in 0.2 innings against Grand Junction. His ERA dropped by 2.28 points after Thursday’s outing.

Can’t run before you walk

The Chukars mustered five hits for the second straight night after averaging 17.3 hits per game their previous four contests. But while the Chukar bats remained quiet, the plate discipline improved.

I.F. followed up a three-walk performance on Wednesday with seven free passes on Thursday. Only one player (Castellano) scored after drawing a walk, which points to I.F.’s struggles with the bat. But a patient approach can lead to better pitches, which can rescue hitters from slumps.

Player of the game

Raptors center fielder Cody Thomas

Thomas earns this honor for the second straight night. That’s because he hit a two-run home run for the second straight night, this time in the first inning. He finished 1 for 3 with a walk.

Up next

The Chukars (11-9) continue their road trip with a four-game series at Orem (13-7) starting Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Chukars notebook: Controversy surrounds minor-league wages

chukars-extra-125x125

A 300 percent pay raise how’s that for an incentive?

Three-hundred percent is the approximate raise a Triple-A baseball player would receive if he was called up to the MLB team’s 40-man roster, according to sports law attorney Jeff Blank. The wage gap is larger for players in the minor leagues’ lower levels; large enough to inspire a lawsuit.

Salaries for first-year players on the 40-man roster equalled $41,400 in 2015, according to Blank. First-year AAA players, meanwhile, made $2,150 a month. That rose to $2,400 for their second year and $2,700 for their third year.

First-year Double-A salaries are $1,700 a month with an additional $100 per month for subsequent seasons. Advanced Single-A salaries are $1,500 a month and low A’s are $1,300.

The seasons from Low A to AAA span seven months. Short-season teams like the Idaho Falls Chukars play from June to September, and their players make $1,150 per month.

All minor-leaguers get $25 in meal money per road day.

The federal poverty level for individuals is $11,880 in yearly income, which is higher than every minor-league salary below AAA.

The minor-league salaries listed above do not account for post-draft signing bonuses, and players often negotiate for higher salaries after their initial seven-year contract is up.

Two years ago, a lawsuit was filed against the MLB on behalf of 20 former minor-leaguers. The lawsuit, as Baseball America reported, “claims that major league teams have suppressed minor league player salaries in violation of federal and state labor laws, and calls for minor leaguers to be paid a salary that meets minimum wage requirements.” A judge ruled that the suit could be expanded to a class action, as Baseball America reported last year.

Congress recently proposed an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would prevent guaranteed minimum wage and overtime pay for minor-leaguers. The MLB released a statement in response to the legislation, which compared minor-leaguers to artists or musicians.

“For the overwhelming majority of individuals, being a Minor League Baseball player is not a career but a short-term seasonal apprenticeship in which the player either advances to the Major Leagues or pursues another career,” the statement read.

The MLB also argued that minor league clubs could not afford increased player costs. If the 2014 lawsuit succeeds, the MLB would likely share a chunk of its multi-billion dollar revenue with the minors. Retraction is another reality the MiLB would face.

For now, players have to reach Triple-A or the major leagues if they want to earn a living playing baseball.

Dozier makes Futures Game roster

This week, former Chukar Hunter Dozier was named to the 2016 MLB Futures Game roster.

Dozier, a shortstop for Triple-A Omaha, is one of two Kansas City Royals prospects on the Futures roster. The other is outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, who also plays for Omaha.

The Futures Game features 25 of the world’s best prospects against 25 of the U.S.’ best. It will be played at 5 p.m. July 10.

Dozier was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft. He spent 54 games with the Chukars in 2013, hitting .303 with .912 OPS and seven home runs.

Roster moves

Here are all of the roster moves the Chukars have made since the beginning of the season:

June 17: Outfielder Nick Heath and catcher MJ Sanchez join I.F. Heath was a 16th-round pick in last month’s MLB draft, and Sanchez was selected in the 35th round.

June 22: Chukars first baseman Brandon Dulin is promoted to Single-A Lexington, where he had played until suffering an injury on April 12.

June 25: I.F. adds right-handed pitcher Jace Vines, who was selected in the fourth round of June’s draft. He is the highest 2016 pick on the Chukars roster as of July 2.

June 26: Right-handed pitchers Reid Redman (on a rehab assignment) and Sam Lewis are promoted to Lexington.

June 30: Left-handed pitcher Sam Selman moves up from the Arizona League to Idaho Falls, continuing his rehab assignment. Selman was named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, when he played for the Chukars. He posted a 2.09 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 22 walks in 60.1 innings (12 starts) that season.

July 1: Kansas City moves outfielder Jose Sanchez from I.F. to its other Rookie ball team, the Burlington Royals. Fellow outfielder Leland Clemmons moves up from the Arizona League to the Chukars.

Who’s hot?

C Meibrys Viloria

Viloria has cooled down a bit, but his batting average is still a blistering .467 (as of press time), good for second in the Pioneer League. Going into Saturday, Viloria led the league in slugging percentage (.805) and doubles (nine).

Who’s not?

RHP Arnaldo Hernandez

In Tuesday’s start against Orem, Hernandez gave up eight earned runs on nine hits in three innings pitched. That performance raised his season ERA to 9.24 and his opponents’ batting average to .393. Hernandez does, however, have eight strikeouts against two walks in his three starts.

Chukars earn second straight walk-off win over Rockies

Chukars shortstop Angelo Castellano tags out Cole Anderson, of the Grand Junction Rockies, on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Chukars shortstop Angelo Castellano tags out Cole Anderson, of the Grand Junction Rockies, on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

The Idaho Falls Chukars walked off winners against the Grand Junction Rockies for the second straight night.

Friday’s walk-off wasn’t quite as odd as Thursday’s (more on that later), but it was almost as rare. Nick Heath hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Chukars a 5-4 win at Melaleuca Field.

“It’s a great feeling,” Heath said.

Heath’s walk-off

The center fielder Heath came to the plate with one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth. Grand Junction led 4-3. Heath fell into a 1-2 hole, but he turned on the next pitch and lined it down the left-field line.

The outcome of the play came down to a footrace, which the Chukars won easily. The ball rolled so far into the corner that Manny Olloque, who started the play at first base, scored standing up.

“I kinda knew I was gonna get an offspeed down-and-in, some type of pitch inside,” Heath said. “That’s what I was geared up for, and I was able to put a barrel on it.

Right-handed pitcher Jace Vines is the highest 2016 MLB draft selection on the Chukars roster, and the fourth-rounder made his first start for I.F. on Friday. But he was completely overshadowed by the 18-year-old who started for Grand Junction.

That 18-year-old was Riley Pint, a right-hander who was selected No. 4 overall in last month’s MLB draft.

Pint retired the final six batters he faced after a leadoff infield single by Luke Willis. He struck out two and walked none, mixing a mid-90s fastball with a big breaking curveball. He was relieved after two innings due to a pitch limit.

“I had to get all the nerves out of the way before I started pitching, but it was great,” Pint said. “I was finally glad to get on the mound.”

Thursday’s game under protest

The Chukars walked off in strange fashion Wednesday, and the Rockies were not happy with a crucial non-call.

With runners on first and second, Willis hit a ground ball to second baseman Jonathan Piron, who turned and threw to shortstop Jose Gomez. Gomez dropped the ball and got hit in the knee by a sliding Meibrys Viloria. Gomez writhed in pain as the ball rolled away, allowing Colton Frabasilio to score and give I.F. a 7-6 win in 10 innings.

Angelo Castellano, of the Idaho Falls Chukars, breaks his bat during a line drive in the second inning against the Grand Junction Rockies on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Angelo Castellano, of the Idaho Falls Chukars, breaks his bat during a line drive in the second inning against the Grand Junction Rockies on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

The Rockies are protesting the game, arguing that Viloria’s slide was outside of the basepaths. But manager Frank Gonzales doesn’t expect the result to change, he said Friday. The umpires told Gonzales that the non-call on Viloria’s slide was judgment call, which cannot be overturned by a protest.

Roster moves

The Chukars lost one outfielder and gained another on Friday. Jose Sanchez was moved to Burlington (the Kansas City Royals’ other Rookie-level team), and Leland Clemmons moved up to I.F. from the Arizona League.

Sanchez hit .438 with a .938 OPS in 16 at-bats for the Chukars this summer. Clemmons, who the Royals signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, hit .083 with a .646 OPS and one home run in 12 at-bats for the Royals last month. He has 11 home runs in his three-year career.

Player of the game

Chukars center fielder Nick Heath

Heath finished 2 for 4 including the walk-off triple.

The Chukars (8-6) will face another first-round pitcher on Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The Rockies (6-7) will start righty Mike Nikorak, the 27th overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft. I.F. will send lefty Matt Portland to the hill. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.