Tag: Jeckson Flores

Chukars tie Ogden for division lead with 10-5 win

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

Tuesday’s game wasn’t a must-win for the Idaho Fall Chukars, but it was close.

Idaho Falls' D.J. Burt makes the play at second base and completes the throw in time for a double play dispite the efforts of Odgen's Gage Green to break up the double during Tuesday night's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls’ D.J. Burt makes the play at second base and completes the throw in time for a double play dispite the efforts of Odgen’s Gage Green to break up the double during Tuesday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

I.F. went in trailing the Ogden Raptors by one game in the Pioneer League South Division, and the Chukars hosted the Raptors for a two-game series starting Tuesday.

The Chukars are now tied for the second-half division lead after handling the Raptors 10-5 at Melaleuca Field. I.F. manager Justin Gemoll said his team has a one-game-at-a-time mindset, but the Chukars know the stakes. Seven games remain in the regular season.

“I’ve never been in a playoff before,” said Chukars catcher Xavier Fernandez, who transferred from the Burlington Royals on Monday. “I feel so excited, and I can’t even explain it.”

The Chukars scored first with a three-run bottom of the first inning. Two runs scored on an error, and Fernandez (3 for 5) hit an RBI single after a long at-bat.

Ogden scored once in the top of the second, but I.F. built on the lead in the bottom half. Center fielder Cody Jones kicked the scoring off with an RBI triple.

Next up was D.J. Burt, who hit a towering fly ball to left field. Left fielder Alex Santana froze as the ball went airborne, appearing to be camped under it. But Santana didn’t know where the ball was, and neither did most of Melaleuca Field. Even Burt thought it was an out.

Santana’s confusion didn’t matter. Burt’s fly ball landed over the wall, 410 feet away.

After 273 plate appearances, Burt had his first home run of the season.

“Finally,” said Burt, who hit two blasts in 163 plate appearances for Burlington last season. “It feels good.”

Gemoll, the third base coach, gave Burt a high five but didn’t exchange words with the 19-year-old as he rounded third.

“He was too busy smiling,” Gemoll said.

The Chukars scored four runs in the second inning, taking a 7-1 lead.

Idaho Falls' pitcher Julio Pinto fielded the ball and caught Odgen's Matt Jones between bases during Tuesday night's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls’ pitcher Julio Pinto fielded the ball and caught Odgen’s Matt Jones between bases during Tuesday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

I.F. extended the lead to 8-1 on a Brawlun Gomez home run (420 feet), but Ogden cut it to 8-5 with a four-run fourth. The Chukars added some insurance with a two-run sixth.

Julio Pinto made his first start for the Chukars and struggled, despite a mid-to-high-90s fastball. Pinto, previously with Burlington, gave up three runs (all earned) on five hits, a walk, five strikeouts and two wild pitches in 3.1 innings.

Fellow Chukars flamethrower Josh Staumont pitched three scoreless, hitless innings out of the bullpen, giving up two walks with four strikeouts.

Burt went 2 for 4 with two walks and has now reached base 49 games in a row. Newcomer Gabriel Noriega (shortstop) went 3 for 4, Jones went 2 for 5 with a walk and left fielder Roman Collins went 1 for 4 with two walks.

Tonight’s series finale is enormous for the Chukars (34-35). If they win, they’ll not only take a one-game division lead, they’ll improve their season record against Ogden (40-29) to 9-7. The first playoff tiebreaker is head-to-head record.

Derek Gordon is scheduled to start for I.F. in tonight’s game, which starts at 7:15.

Roster notes

Several key I.F. position players were missing from Tuesday’s game. Outfielder Amalani Fukofuka was on the bench getting rest, and Gemoll wasn’t sure if he’d play tonight either. Shortstop Jeckson Flores (hamstring) and catcher Kyle Pollock (hand) are both day-to-day. Gemoll also said catcher Pedro Gonzalez, currently on the disabled list, will not return.

Shortstop Marten Gasparini could return as early as this weekend, Chukars director of broadcasting Alex Cohen said. Gasparini is currently in Japan representing Team Italy in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup

Chukars tied for Pioneer League South Division lead after 7-6 loss to Grand Junction

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

Ten games remain, and the Idaho Falls Chukars are tied for first in the Pioneer League South Division.

The Chukars fell 7-6 to Grand Junction Saturday night at Melaleuca Field. Shortly after the game ended, with lightning streaking across the sky and a fireworks show set to start, the Ogden Raptors beat Orem in 12 innings. Both I.F. and Ogden are 19-9 in the second half.

“All these games are important,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “We just have to take care of our business.”

Collins
Collins

The Chukars scored two runs on two-out single from designated hitter Roman Collins in the bottom of the first, but Grand Junction tied it up in the top of the third. The 2-2 score lasted until the fifth, when the Rockies got their third run off I.F. starter Daniel Concepcion.

In the bottom of the fifth, Chukars center fielder Cody Jones hit a leadoff single. Second baseman D.J. Burt came up next and hit a medium depth fly ball to right fielder Sam Hilliard. Third base coach Gemoll sent Jones on the tag-up, but he was out by several feet to end the inning.

“I don’t regret it,” Gemoll said. “It’s a left-handed outfielder running toward center field, so his body’s taking him away from the play. He just did a great job of being under it, keeping body control, arm strength, accuracy, all of that.”

An inning later, the Chukars regained the lead. Left fielder Amalani Fukofuka hit a leadoff triple and scored a few pitches later on a failed pickoff attempt by Rockies catcher Campbell Wear. Collins delivered again with an RBI triple two batters later, and he scored on a Brawlun Gomez single for a 5-3 Chukars lead.

The game looked in hand with Josh Staumont on the hill, but the right-hander uncharacteristically struggled in the seventh. The rookie allowed four runs (all earned) on three walks, a wild pitch and a double in the inning.

Before Saturday, Staumont had a 1.62 ERA with six walks and 32 strikeouts in 16.2 second-half innings.

“I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, I just think he was working up a little bit more than usual,” Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan said. “Sometimes you don’t have it every night.”

I.F. got a ninth inning run but it couldn’t muster more.

The Chukars were shorthanded going into the game, and it hurt them. Prior to the top of the seventh, shortstop Jeckson Flores exited the game with a hamstring injury. Ryan Dale replaced him but went to third base, forcing third baseman Logan Nottebrok to second and Burt to shortstop.

Flores, who is day-to-day, is the only true shortstop on the team. Regular shortstop Marten Gasparini is currently in Japan representing Team Italy in the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup.

Gemoll said multiple Chukars can play infield, and Chukars director of broadcasting Alex Cohen said after Saturday’s game that I.F. will make several moves before today’s game.

The Chukars (32-34) host Grand Junction (27-39, 8-20 second half) today at 4 p.m. Todd Eaton will start on the mound for I.F. in the third game of the four-game series.

Chukars squander 3-0 lead in eighth inning, fall to Ogden 4-3

The Idaho Falls Chukars took a 3-0 lead over the Ogden Raptors into the eighth inning Thursday. An inning later, they walked off the field with a loss.

The Raptors scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 4-3 lead, which they maintained for a win Thursday night at Lindquist Field in Ogden, Utah. Ogden’s two-game sweep shrunk Idaho Falls’ Pioneer League South Division second-half lead to one with 12 games to play.

Flores
Flores

I.F. got on the board first in the top of the second. First baseman Josh Banuelos led off with a single, and left fielder Roman Collins reached on an error a batter later. Designated hitter Kyle Pollock walked two batters later to bring up shortstop Jeckson Flores.

Flores might have been on the bench Thursday if Marten Gasparini was active. But Gasparini is currently in Japan representing Italy in the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup, which starts today and ends Sept. 6.

Flores (2 for 4) took advantage of his opportunity in the second, driving in Banuelos and Collins to give the Chukars a 2-0 lead.

That lead would hold until the seventh, when Flores hit a solo home run. Before that blast, Flores had gone nearly five minor league seasons and 974 plate appearances without hitting a home run.

Gordon
Gordon

I.F.’s pitching had silenced the Raptors up to that point. Starter Derek Gordon went five scoreless innings, giving up six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The right-hander is now second in the Pioneer League with 61 strikeouts (5.1 per start) on the season.

Fellow righty Alberto Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings for I.F., as well, but he struggled in the eighth. Following a leadoff strikeout, Rodriquez gave up a solo home run to Alex Santana, a single to Matt Jones and an RBI single to Michael Medina.

Righty Brian Bayliss replaced Rodriguez to face Edwin Rios. The third baseman blasted a 439-foot two-run home run to right field, giving Ogden a 4-3 lead.

This is the third time the Chukars have blown a lead in the eighth inning or later this season. All three losses have come against the Raptors.

I.F. squandered an 8-7 lead heading into the eighth on July 3 (losing 14-10) and an 8-6 lead heading into the ninth on June 30.

Banuelos went 2 for 4 and second baseman D.J. Burt went 2 for 3 with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 44 games.

Idaho Falls (31-33 overall, 18-8 second half) returns home for a four-game series against Grand Junction (27-37, 7-19) starting tonight at 7:15. Ogden (36-28, 17-9) hosts Orem (37-27, 13-13) for a game series starting tonight, as well.

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.

Chukars dominate Grand Junction 11-7, return to .500

Idaho Falls Chukars shortstop Jeckson Flores tags out Grand Junction Rockies base runner Sam Hilliard, who tried to steal second base in a Sunday afternoon game at Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction, Colo. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)
Idaho Falls Chukars shortstop Jeckson Flores tags out Grand Junction Rockies base runner Sam Hilliard, who tried to steal second base in a Sunday afternoon game at Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction, Colo. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

The Idaho Falls Chukars started the season 3-3. Fifty-four games later, they returned to .500.

The Chukars dominated the Grand Junction Rockies 11-7 Sunday at Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction, Colo. The win not only got the Chukars back to .500 on the season, it improved their second half record to 17-5 to maintain their three-game lead over the Ogden Raptors.

Idaho Falls got started with a six-run third inning. Third baseman Logan Nottebrok led the inning off with a solo home run. Shortstop Jeckson Flores singled to left field and center fielder Cody Jones bunted for a single that Rockies manager Anthony Sanders disagreed with. He was subsequently ejected for the first time in his managerial career.

Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman Josh Banuelos watches his three-run home run in flight during Idaho Falls’ six-run third inning in a Sunday afternoon game against the Grand Junction Rockies at Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction, Colo. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)
Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman Josh Banuelos watches his three-run home run in flight during Idaho Falls’ six-run third inning in a Sunday afternoon game against the Grand Junction Rockies at Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction, Colo. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

Second baseman D.J. Burt came up next and doubled, scoring Flores. Two batters later, Josh Banuelos hit a three-run home run (his third of the season) to center field. Idaho Falls scored its final run in the inning after a double from left fielder Roman Collins and a single from catcher Kyle Pollock.

The Chukars took a 6-2 lead into the sixth inning, when they scored three more runs. Nottebrok hit his second home run of the night (and third of the year), a two-run shot two batters into the inning. Burt later scored on a wild pitch.

Jones, Burt, Banuelos, Nottebrok and Flores had three hits apiece. Banuelos was a triple shy of the cycle. Collins also went 2 for 5. The Chukars racked up 18 hits as a team.

Bryan Brickhouse made a rehab start for Idaho Falls, giving up two runs (both earned) on two hits, two walks and two strikeouts in three innings. Brickhouse is making his third stint with the Chukars. He made one start for them in 2012 and pitched 27.2 innings for them last season. Brickhouse pitched 6.1 innings in the Arizona League this season before being promoted to Idaho Falls.

The Chukars (30-30) play Grand Junction (25-35, 5-17 second half) again Monday night at 7:05.

Chukars take opener versus Rockies 6-4

Idaho Falls Chukars left fielder Roman Collins, No. 25, slides into second base safe on an infield out in the second inning as Grand Junction second baseman #2, Jonathon Pinon is late with the tag in a Saturday night game from Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction,CO. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)
Idaho Falls Chukars left fielder Roman Collins, No. 25, slides into second base safe on an infield out in the second inning as Grand Junction second baseman #2, Jonathon Pinon is late with the tag in a Saturday night game from Suplizio Filed in Grand Junction,CO. (Christopher Tomlinson / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

The second half continues to get better for the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Idaho Falls got another strong start from Derek Gordon, two three-run innings and balance from the lineup in a 6-4 win over the Grand Junction Rockies at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colo., on Saturday night.

The Chukars improved to 29-30 overall and 16-5 in the second half. They lead the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings by three games over the Ogden Raptors and by five over the first-half champion Orem Owlz.

Outside of allowing two solo home runs to Jonathan Piron, Gordon was nearly untouchable. He allowed the solo shots in the second and fourth innings, but just two other hits and a walk while striking out four in 5.2 innings.

Cruz Guevara got the final out of the sixth, and hard-throwing Josh Staumont allowed two runs over the final three innings but closed it out.

The Chukars wiped out a 1-0 deficit in the third when Jeckson Flores walked and scored on DJ Burt’s one-out double to center. Amalani Fukofuka followed with a triple to right, giving I.F. a 2-1 lead. Fukofuka followed Burt home when the cutoff throw from shortstop Brendan Rogers sailed wide of third to make it 3-1.

Idaho Falls added three more runs in the sixth. Roman Collins led off with a single and Nick Dini followed with a single. After Brawlun Gomez and Ryan Dale Struck out, Flores reached on an error that scored Collins and Dini. Cody Jones then singled in Flores from third.

Jones, Burt, Fukofuka and Collins had three hits each for the Chukars, who outhit the Rockies 11-6.

The Chukars and Rockies (25-34 overall, 5-16 second half) play the second game of their four-game series at 4:05 p.m. today.

Red-hot Chukars pull out another win, 5-4 over Billings

By JEFF PINKHAM
jpinkham@postregister.com

It was a game the Idaho Falls Chukars had no business winning. It was a game they would have no doubt lost in the first half of the Pioneer League season.

But this is the second half, and this is a very different Idaho Falls Chukars team.

The Chukars rallied from two late-inning deficits to force extra innings, escaped a mini-jam in the top of the 10th and then beat the Billings Mustangs 5-4 on Brawlun Gomez’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th in front of 3,195 fans Thursday at Melaleuca Field.

“We just try to fight until the end,” said Idaho Falls right fielder Amalani Fukofuka, who had an RBI single in the eighth and scored the winning run in the 10th. “We always try to play with confidence no matter what’s going on.”

That confidence at the plate was put to the test Thursday.

The Chukars were scuffling against Billings starter Jacob Constante, who allowed just two singles and two walks over the first five innings while striking out six. He was replaced by Austin Orwilier, who was even better. The 6-foot-2 left-hander, a 14th-round draft pick from Rice University this year, allowed a single to Roman Collins in the seventh but nothing else, striking out four of the seven hitters he faced.

Idaho Falls starter Carter Hope was just as good over the first six innings, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out five. But Hope ran out of gas in the seventh, allowing a two-out triple to Jonathan Martijn and a two-run homer to Dalton Carter. The Mustangs pushed across another run when Hector Vargas reached on a Gasparini error, moved to second on a single, to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Brantley Bell.

That’s when the Chukars found a little of their second-half magic.

Facing a 3-0 deficit and nothing to build on, Cody Jones singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh. The Chukars then caught a break when Jeckson Flores hit a perfect double-play ball to short. But the ball went through Vargas’ legs to extend the inning. Fukofuka made them pay with an RBI double to right, putting runners on second and third. Josh Banuelos followed with an RBI single to left, and Fukofuka followed Flores home when left fielder Kevin Garcia bobbled the ball.

Billings grabbed the lead back in the top of the ninth on a single from Zach Shields, a sac bunt and another error from Gasparini — his 35th of the season.

But Gasparini’s teammates bailed him out in the bottom of the ninth, getting a leadoff single from Kyle Pollock, a two-strike sac bunt from Ryan Dale and a game-tying single from Jones.

“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” Fukofuka said.

The bottom of the 10th started with a bunt single from Fukofuka, who moved to third on Banuelos’ groundout to third. Billings intentionally walked Collins and Gasparini to load the bases, and Gomez followed with the game-winning hit.

Alberto Rodriguez pitched the final two innings, allowing a bloop double in the 10th before working out of the jam.

Fukofuka finished 3 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Collins went 2 for 3 with two walks and Jones was 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI.

The Chukars (28-30 overall, 15-5 second half) went 6-1 on their homestand against Helena and Billings and remained three games ahead of Ogden and four ahead of Orem in the South Division second-half standings. Idaho Falls is off tonight before opening a four-game series at last-place Grand Junction at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Chukars’ long road trip ends with 6-3 loss to Billings

The Idaho Falls Chukars showed the wear and tear of a season-long nine-game road trip Wednesday night in Billings, Mont.

The Chukars committed four errors that led to three unearned runs and allowed six stolen bases as the Billings Mustangs held on late for a 6-3 victory in front of 2,741 fans at Dehler Park.

Billings took two of three in the series against Idaho Falls, which leads the Pioneer League South Division standings.

Idaho Falls trailed 5-1 after the third and 6-1 after the fifth but tried to rally late. The Chukars scored a run in the seventh, another in the eighth and got the leadoff man on in the ninth but couldn’t get any closer.

Flores
Flores

I.F. scored a single run in the first when Jeckson Flores doubled with one out and then scored on back to back wild pitches.

But Billings matched the run in the bottom of the first when Blake Trahan doubled and later scored on Marten Gasparini’s throwing error.

The Mustangs broke things open with four runs in the third on four hits, two stolen bases and a Chukars error. They added another run in the fifth on Kevin Franklin’s home run to left.

Idaho Falls cut into the lead in the seventh when Gasparini singled, stole second and scored on Logan Nottebrok’s double. The margin got smaller in the eighth when Amalani Fukofuka and Josh Banuelos walked with one out. Roman Collins followed with a flyout to deep center, and Fukofuka scored on a throwing error.

Flores was the lone Chukar with two hits, going 2 for 4 to bump his average to .304. I.F. starter Todd Eaton pitched well, allowing six runs (two earned) on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts in six innings.

The Chukars (22-29 overall, 9-4 second half) will take today off before beginning a seven-game homestand against Helena and Billings on Friday at Melaleuca Field.

Bullpen, rookies lead Chukars to 5-3 win over Billings

The Idaho Falls Chukars continued their hot second half with a 5-3 win over the Billings Mustangs Tuesday night at Dehler Park.

A three-run third inning and a masterful bullpen performance were key for the Chukars in their two-run victory. Idaho Falls is now 9-3 in the second half, which is the best record in the Pioneer League. The Chukars went a league-worst 13-25 in the first half.

Davis
Davis

“It sucked losing a lot, obviously, but a lot of the position players, especially, are very young, so whenever you go up a level, not everybody’s going to have immediate success,” Chukars reliever Tripp Davis said via Chukars director of broadcasting Alex Cohen. “They’ve put in their time in the first half, and now everything’s clicking.”

The Chukars and starting pitcher Daniel Concepcion fell behind 1-0 in the second inning, but they roared ahead a half inning later.

In the third with two outs and runners on the corners, Chukars right fielder Amalani Fukofuka hit a single up the middle to score third baseman Jeckson Flores.

A Josh Banuelos walk loaded the bases for left fielder Roman Collins, who hit a single up the middle to drive in center fielder Cody Jones and Fukofuka and give Idaho Falls a 3-1 lead.

Billings answered immediately, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third inning.

The score remained tied until the top of the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and second, Billings reliever Sarkis Ohanian threw consecutive wild pitches to score Jones, who stole a base during the previous at-bat.

Idaho Falls added an insurance run in the ninth inning, but it didn’t matter thanks to the bullpen.

Billings scored three runs (all earned) off the right-handed Concepcion on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts in his 4.2 innings pitched. The Mustangs got one runner on base after that (a Shane Mardirosian single) against the lefty Davis and righty Brian Bayliss.

Davis went 3.1 innings with four strikeouts, and Bayliss pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

Davis, who pitches with a side-arm motion, said he got quick outs in his first inning-plus. The fewer pitches batters see from him, the better, he said.

“I’m not throwing too hard, so when they pick up on the deception and have a few pitches to look at, I become less effective,” Davis said via Cohen. “So as long as I stay aggressive in the zone, if they want to swing early, hopefully I’m down and I’ll get ground balls. But I just have to shove it down their throats and force the action.”

The rookie Collins went 2 for 3 with a walk, fellow rookie Cody Jones went 1 for 5 with two runs scored, 18-year-old shortstop Marten Gasparini went 1 for 2 with two walks and 19-year-old Fukofuka went 1 for 4. Flores went 1 for 2 and was hit by two pitches.

Idaho Falls (22-28) looks to take the three-game series at Billings (23-26, 6-6) tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Chukars extend winning streak with 8-7 extra-inning win

The Idaho Falls Chukars had to work for it, but they extended their longest winning streak in years with an 8-7 win over the Helena Brewers on Friday night at Kindrick Legion Field.

The win gives the Chukars a 7-1 record in the second half. Those seven wins have occurred in their last seven games, giving Idaho Falls its longest winning streak since June 2007, when it started the season 9-0.

Idaho Falls took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, but that quickly disappeared. Helena scored two in the bottom of the second and one in the third for a 3-1 lead.

Gomez
Gomez

For the second night in a row, the Chukars scored five runs in one inning (they scored five in the top of the first during last night’s 8-5 win over Helena).

In the top of the fourth, shortstop Marten Gasparini hit a one-out single, stole a base and scored on a single by catcher Nick Dini. Designated hitter Brawlun Gomez came up next and blasted a home run to left field. Gomez now has seven home runs, tying him for the team lead with Alexis Rivera, who has played for Single-A Lexington since July 5.

Two hits and three walks later, the Chukars plastered five runs on the scoreboard in the fourth for a 6-3 lead.

Helena slowly climbed back.

First, the Brewers scored a run in the fourth inning. They cut Idaho Falls’ lead to 6-5 in the seventh. Against Brian Bayliss in the ninth, they led off the inning with back-to-back singles. First baseman David Denson drove in left fielder Malik Collymore on a sacrifice fly to tie the game and send the game into extras.

The Chukars answered immediately, sparked again by Gasparini (2 for 4) and Dini (1 for 3). Gasparini led the 10th inning off with a single and Dini was subsequently hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Gomez (1 for 4) moved them over with a sacrifice bunt to bring up Logan Nottebrok (1 for 4, walk). Idaho Falls’ third baseman hit a ground ball to shortstop Jake Gatewood, who threw the ball away, allowing Gasparini and Dini to score.

In the bottom of the second inning, Helena scored a run and got a runner to second base, but he was left stranded.

Chukars starting pitcher Todd Eaton pitched six innings for his longest outing of the season. He gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts.

Idaho Falls center fielder Cody Jones and second baseman Jeckson Flores each went 2 for 6. Right fielder Amalani Fukofuka went 1 for 3 with two walks.

The Chukars (20-26) look to win the four-game series versus Helena (18-26) tonight at 7:05 p.m.