Tag: Joshua Banuelos

Fukofuka gets throwback walk-up song, game-winning hit in 9-8 Chukars victory

Fukofuka.
Fukofuka.

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Idaho Falls Chukars outfielder Amalani Fukofuka entered Monday’s opening game of a four-game homestand against the Billings Mustangs looking for a new walk-up song.

He not only left with a throwback to walk up to, but the game-winning hit to conclude a rollercoaster 9-8 victory before 3,144 fans at Melaleuca Field.

Before his third at-bat, the opening verse to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child blared through the Melaleuca speakers. He got a single in that at-bat, followed by a single and the game-winning RBI double in his final two appearances to finish the night 3-for-5.

The outfielder said he not only enjoyed the song chosen by the guys working in the booth, but called it fitting for his name which has drawn much attention throughout the league this season.

“I started laughing when it started playing,” Fukofuka said. “I actually told one of the guys who worked here that I didn’t like my old walk-up song and I told them to just pick whatever. I’ll stick with it.”

The song seemed to do the trick, as the win put the Chukars at 13-4 in the second half of the season. It also maintained I.F.’s lead in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings to three games over the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owlz, who are both tied for second at 10-7.

It was also the latest in a recent string of rallies for the Chukars. Idaho Falls saw its 3-2 lead through two innings disappear as the Mustangs bats heated up and Chukars errors (five, all by shortstop Marten Gasparini) started taking a toll. Consecutive walks and a wild pitch by I.F. relief pitcher Brandon Thomas resulted in Ed Charlton coming home to put Billings up 7-3 entering the seventh inning stretch.

Idaho Falls responded with runs by D.J. Burt and Fukofuka in the bottom of the seventh and four runs in the bottom of the eighth, which saw five consecutive Chukars go to bat before the first out.

“They didn’t panic,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “They were trying to have good at-bats. Everyone’s been doing a good job of competing all year.”

Catcher Kyle Pollock went 2 for 4 with a two-run, 406-foot homer in the bottom of the second and Cody Jones went 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Thomas earned the win, giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and strking out one in four innings.

Idaho Falls (26-29) faces Billings (25-29) for game two tonight at 7:15 p.m.

SUNDAY’S GAME: The Chukars got a strong start from Derek Gordon and completed a three-game series sweep with a 6-5 win over Helena on Sunday at Melaleuca Field.

Gordon had a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before a Gasparini error extended the inning. Malik Collymore broke up the no-hitter with a two-run home run. Helena added two more runs in the sixth to tie the game.

The Chukars took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when Cody Jones tripled and DJ Burt walked. Both runners came home on a botched pickoff play.

Helena got a run in the eighth, but Brian Bayliss pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

Burt went 2 for 3 with three runs scored, Luis Lara was 3 for 4 and Joshua Banuelos was 2 for 4 with a run to lead the Chukars.

Chukars can’t follow up record night, drop final road game to Rockies

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The Idaho Falls Chukars couldn’t maintain the momentum from Sunday’s record-breaking offensive outburst and fell 8-3 to the host Grand Junction Rockies on Monday.

The Chukars pounded out 28 hits in a 25-2 win over the Rockies on Sunday and had 16 Monday, but stranded 16 runners and fell to 2-6 against Grand Junction this season.

The Rockies grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryan Stephens’ RBI double to left. The Chukars tied things up in the second when Amalani Fukofuka reached on an error, advanced to third on a single and a groundout and scored on a passed ball.

Grand Junction regained the lead and some breathing room in the fifth by scoring four runs, three of them coming on Jonathan Piro’s three-run homer to right.

The Chukars added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but the Rockies put the game away with three runs in the eighth.

Idaho Falls threatened in the top of ninth, scoring twice to cut the lead to 8-5. With two on and two out, Joshua Banuelos drove a ball to right that was caught by a leaping Sam Hilliard at the wall.

Alexis Rivera continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 4 with a run. Jeckson Flores was 2 for 5 with a double and a run while Banuelos and Nick Dini each had two hits.

After a week on the road the Chukars return to Melaleuca Field today to begin a four-game series against the Ogden Raptors. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

SUNDAY’S RECAP: The Chukars set team records for runs (25) and hits (28) since becoming affiliated with the Kansas City Royals in 2004 in a 25-2 blowout win over Grand Junction.

Every batter in the I.F. lineup had at least two hits and all but one had at least three. The Chukars hit five home runs (two each by Pedro Gonzalez and Alexis Rivera) and nine extra-base hits overall.

Rivera had a huge game, going 4 for 4 with three walks, three runs and four RBIs. Gonzalez finished 4 for 5 with four runs and four RBIs while Joshua Banuelos was 3 for 6 with a double, four runs and three RBIs.

Carlos Herrera earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts in six innings.

Chukars’ skid hits four games

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The Grand Junction Rockies continued their dominance over the Idaho Falls Chukars, getting a strong start from Parker French and two home runs to earn a 6-3 win in front of 1,870 fans Saturday at Sam Suplizio Field.

The Rockies improved to 5-1 against the Chukars this season.

Idaho Falls fell behind 6-1 early and saw its losing streak reach four games.

Grand Junction took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Sam Hilliard’s RBI triple to center and a fielding error by Chukars third baseman Ryan Dale.

I.F. cut the lead in half in the top of the second when Pedro Gonzalez homered over the wall in center. But Grand Junction extended the lead with four runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-run single from Daniel Suero and a solo homer from Hilliard.

That was more than enough support for French, who allowed three runs on six hits while striking out seven in 5.2 innings. Three Rockies relievers shut the door over the final 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four.

Todd Eaton took the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings. Brandon Thomas saw his ERA fall to 2.89 with three scoreless innings of relief, allowing a hit and a walk with four strikeouts.

Joshua Banuelos added a two-run home run for the Chukars in the sixth, while Brawlun Gomez was 3 for 4 and Roman Collins was 2 for 4 with a run.

Idaho Falls (3-7) and Grand Junction (7-3) play the third game of their four-game series at 6 p.m. today. The teams finish their series Monday before the Chukars return home for the first of six games at Melaleuca Field beginning Tuesday.

Chukars rally for 9-6 win over Raptors, move to .500

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The Idaho Falls Chukars capitalized on seven walks and three wild pitches to earn a 9-6 comeback win over the Ogden Raptors on Tuesday at Lindquist Field.

The win is the third straight for Idaho Falls, which improves to 3-3 and moves one game behind Pioneer League South Division leaders Grand Junction (4-2) and Orem (4-2).

Joshua Banuelos put the Chukars up 1-0 in the top of the first, scoring off a double by Marten Gasparini. The Raptors bounced back in the next frame with runs by Logan Landon, Willie Calhoun, Michael Medina and Scott De Jong, taking advantage of two walks and a wild pitch by Chukars starting pitcher Carlos Herrara.

A back-and-forth contest ensued for the next five innings before a sacrifice bunt by Luis Valenzuela and a hit by pitch and two wild pitches by Ogden pitcher Gregor Mora allowed Pedro Gonzalez to score to put I.F. up 7-6.

A Brawlun Gomez sac fly brought home Amalani Fukofuka and Gonzalez drove in Alexis Rivera with a single in the top of the eighth for the game’s final runs.

Fukofuka went 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored to lead Idaho Falls. Rivera went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run (his third of the season) and two RBIs and Gasparini went 2 for 4 with three stolen bases and an RBI for Idaho Falls. Gasparini has seven stoles bases this season.

Alberto Rodriguez took the win on the mound, giving up no runs on no hits while walking three and striking out one in 2.1 innings of relief. Brian Bayliss earned the save, pitching a scoreless ninth with one strikeout.

First pitch for game three of the four-game series is 7 p.m. tonight.

Chukars top Raptors for second straight win

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The Idaho Falls Chukars got a sacrifice fly from Brawlun Gomez in the top of the 11th inning and good pitching throughout to beat host the Ogden Raptors 4-3 on Monday.

It was the Chukars’ second straight win after opening the season with three blowout losses at Melaleuca Field.

It took a little extra work for I.F. to get its first winning streak. The Chukars trailed 3-2 after five, but tied the game in the seventh on Marten Gasparini’s solo homer to left field.

The score remained tied until the top of the 11th, when Joshua Banuelos walked, moved to second on a single from Alexis Rivera, to third on a sac bunt by Amalani Fukofuka and scored on close play on Gomez’s sac fly to right.

Brennan Henry, who joined the Chukars on Monday from the Lexington (Ky.) Legends, got the final six outs to earn the win. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound lefty just one hit in two innings while striking out one.

That followed two strong performances from starter Todd Eaton and reliever Brandon Thomas.

Eaton pitched the first four innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with three strikeouts. Thomas was even better, allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in five innings.

Rivera led a balanced offense, going 3 for 5 with his second home run. Gasparini, Banuelos, Fukofuka, Kyle Pollock and Ryan Dale each had two hits.

The two teams play against at 7 tonight in Ogden.
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Grand Junction pounds Chukars for second straight win

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

Friday night was a long time coming for Idaho Falls Chukars pitcher Hunter Haynes.

Haynes, a left-hander from Mexico, Mo., missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He started for the Chukars on Friday, marking his first pitching appearance since 2013, when he was with the Arizona League Royals.

“Playing my first game since 2013, I was pretty excited,” Haynes said. “I was happy with my stuff. I wasn’t happy with my execution.”

Haynes (five earned runs on seven hits in two innings pitched) was hardly the only Chukar who struggled with execution Friday night.

The Chukars fell to the Grand Junction Rockies 16-12 at Melaleuca Field. The game played out like Thursday’s 16-10 loss for Idaho Falls – good hitting overshadowed by countless mistakes on the mound and in the field.

“These kids put some pressure on themselves. They all want to be great,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “It’s only natural. Just relax, don’t worry, only focus on what you can do, take the game pitch by pitch and we’ll be fine. The results will be there in the end.”

Thursday’s game started in deceiving fashion. The Chukars led 2-0 after one inning. The Rockies scored 16 straight runs after that inning and won 16-10.

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