Tag: Reinaldo Cepin

Chukars end their road trip with an 8-0 loss to Orem

Cepin
Cepin

The sliver of progress the Idaho Falls Chukars made on Wednesday was negated on Thursday.

Orem cruised past the Chukars 8-0 Thursday to split the two-games series in Utah. Pioneer League South Division leader Grand Junction, meanwhile, pounded Ogden 12-3. So I.F. gave back the game it gained Thursday, and it sits 5.5 games out of first place with 14 games to play.

The Chukars have now been shut out two times this season.

Open and shut

The 8-0 score exaggerated the distance between I.F. and Orem on Thursday. The Owlz led 3-0 going into the eighth inning, when they scored five runs to put it away. And their pitching staff was hardly untouchable.

The Chukars tallied eight hits, three walks and one hit-by-pitch on the night. They couldn’t, however, string the baserunners together or hit one over the outfielders’ heads.

All eight hits were singles, and only three runners reached scoring position. I.F.’s hitters went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, dropping them to 3 for 24 (.125) in those situations the last four games. The Chukars also left nine runners on base Thursday.

First baseman Joe Dudek was one of the few bright spots, going 2 for 2 with two walks. Dudek, who hit the decisive homer Wednesday, is batting .297 with a .916 OPS in 64 at-bats with the Chukars.

Another solid start wasted

In the 12 games before Thursday’s, only one of I.F.’s pitchers (Igol Feliz on Sunday) had allowed more than three runs in a start. Reinaldo Cepin extended that streak to 13 with five serviceable innings against the Owlz. The left-hander allowed three earned runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out two.

But Cepin had no chance to avoid the loss. The lineup never seriously threatened to close the gap, and the bullpen struggled. Nick Andros relieved Cepin and allowed four earned runs in two innings. Enmanuel Camacho allowed one earned run in his inning of work.

Player of the game

Owlz right fielder John Schukneckt

Schukneckt entered Thursday’s game with two home runs in 135 at-bats on the season. On Thursday, he hit two bombs in consecutive at-bats. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the third that opened the scoring. His second was a two-run blast in the fifth to give Orem a 3-0 lead.

Schukneckt finished 2 for 5.

Up next

The Chukars (31-31 overall, 9-15 second half) and Owlz (33-29, 11-13) begin another two-game set on Friday at Melaleuca Field. I.F righty Arnaldo Hernandez (5.53 ERA) will get the start against lefty Nate Bertness (3.64). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Dudek, pitching come through in the Chukars’ 3-2 win over Orem

Viloria
Viloria

The Idaho Falls Chukars headed into Wednesday with a 1-11 record in one-run games on the road. That mark improved Wednesday night at Orem.

The Chukars prevailed 3-2 over the Owlz thanks to strong pitching and some two-out thunder from their lineup. Ogden’s extra-inning win over Grand Junction put I.F. 4.5 games out of first place in the Pioneer League South division second-half standings.

The Dudek abides

The Chukars got on the board in the top of the first inning after the first two batters were retired. Manny Olloque delivered a two-out single, and Meibrys Viloria drove him home with a double.

The sixth inning began equally mundane, with Nick Heath and Olloque providing two quick outs. Then Viloria stepped up and singled in front of Joe Dudek. On a 1-1 count, the first baseman drove a Greg Belton pitch over the wall in left-center field.

Dudek’s home run proved to be the difference, giving I.F. a 3-1 lead.

Portland stays sharp

Matt Portland is still issuing walks, but he’s managed to suppress the hits and runs over his last three starts, including Wednesday’s.

The left-hander went six innings against the Owlz. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks, and he struck out five.

Portland has allowed one earned run in each of his last three outings, which all lasted five or more innings. The opposing lineups in those three games averaged 3.7 hits and three walks against him. Portland also struck out five batters per game in that span.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

Dudek wouldn’t have hit the big fly if Viloria didn’t single in front of him. Plus, Viloria doubled in the first run. Overall, the catcher went 3 for 4, upping his batting average to a league-best .398.

Edwards named player of the week

Chukars infielder David Edwards was named the Pioneer League player of the week for his performance from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21.

Edwards went 9 for 18 with two doubles, two home runs (both on Sunday) and three stolen bases over the course of five games. He now leads the team with eight homers on the season.

Edwards joined Manny Olloque and Yeison Melo as Chukars with 2016 player of week honors. Andres Machado also earned a pitcher of the week honor, and Meibrys Viloria was July’s player of the month.

Up next

The Chukars (31-30 overall, 9-14 second half) and Owlz (32-29, 10-13) conclude their two game-series on Thursday at 7 p.m. Lefty Reinaldo Cepin will start for I.F.

Chukars’ lineup, bullpen awaken in a 7-5 win over the Mustangs

Idaho Falls Chukars pitcher Cole Way (right) celebrates his save with catcher MJ Sanchez Wednesday night against the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls Chukars pitcher Cole Way (right) celebrates his save with catcher MJ Sanchez Wednesday night against the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

Not once did Cole Way shake off MJ Sanchez in the top of the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game. Ten minutes after the inning began, Way and Sanchez embraced.

The pitcher and catcher celebrated a rarity: an Idaho Falls Chukars win over the Billings Mustangs at Melaleuca Field. The 7-5 victory was the Chukars’ second of the six-game homestand, and their first over Billings this season. And it wasn’t close to over until Way’s final pitch of the ninth hit Sanchez’s glove.

Way buckles down

Third baseman David Edwards committed a fielding error with one out in the top of the ninth, setting up an easy narrative: an error sinks the Chukars once again.

Errors have killed I.F. all season, especially in the second half, and the Chukars looked doomed for a similar fate Wednesday. The Mustangs put the tying runs on second and third with one out in the ninth.

The situation didn’t phase Way. He struck out Colby Wright, who had gone 2 for 3 with a double heading into that at-bat. Cassidy Brown was up next. On a 2-2 count, Sanchez called for a changeup. Way didn’t hesitate, and he got Brown to chase to end the game.

“Cole’s best pitch is probably his changeup,” Sanchez said. “I had a lot of confidence in him and what he had, and I knew he was going to trust me. We were in sync.”

Right after the strikeout, Way screamed and pointed at Sanchez, praising his catcher for a good gameplan.

“He sat there and watched the hitters for eight innings, he read all their swings and he had a great sequence on every at-bat,” Way said. “He called a perfect pitch at the perfect time.”

Five in the sixth 

Rudy Martin led off the bottom of the first with a double. The Chukars were held hitless for the next four innings.

The first five innings summed up I.F.’s second half. The lineup looked listless. The bullpen got knocked around, this time with Christian Flecha filling the role with two earned runs in the fifth.

The lineup and the bullpen flipped a switch after that, starting with an offensive eruption in bottom of the sixth. The lineup batted around thanks to five hits and two walks.

Martin sparked the rally with a lead-off walk. The center fielder doesn’t like to use the word “slump”, but that’s what he was mired in for the bulk of August. From July 26 through Tuesday’s game, Martin hit 6 for 47 (.128) with two walks.

“We’ve been working in the cages, and today, it was a lot better,” Martin said. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate. Hopefully tomorrow I can come and do the same thing.”

Sanchez was another struggling Chukar heading into Wednesday. He had been 0 for 10 without a walk in the month of August. On Wednesday, Sanchez extended the sixth inning rally with a single, and he walked in the eighth.

Cepin extends streak

The Chukars have struggled in almost every area during the second half. One of the few bright spots has been starting pitching, and that silver lining continued to glimmer Wednesday.

Left-hander Reinaldo Cepin allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk in four innings. He also struck out three.

Before Wednesday, no I.F. starter had allowed more than one earned run on the homestand, yet I.F. went 1-4 in those games.

Player of the game 

Mustangs left fielder Taylor Trammell

Trammell went 2 for 3 with a triple, a double, two walks and three runs scored.

Up next

The Chukars (28-27 overall, 6-11 second half) and Mustangs (34-20, 11-5) wrap up the four-game series Thursday at Melaleuca Field. I.F.’s Matt Portland (6.59 ERA) takes on fellow lefty Max Wotell (5.03).

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 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 shine in speedy 7-0 win over Osprey

Machado
Machado

Life is good for the Idaho Falls Chukars at Melaleuca Field this summer.

The Chukars failed to reach 10 hits at home for the first time in 11 games (they finished with nine) Monday, but they came through when it counted. And combined with the dominating and efficient pitching of Andres Machado, Cole Way and Reinaldo Cepin, Idaho Falls cruised to a 7-0 win over the Missoula Osprey that sent the crowd of 3,502 fans home in 2 hours and 13 minutes.

The win pushed Idaho Falls to 14-4 at the friendly confines on Jim Garchow Way. Idaho Falls is tied with Orem for first place in the Pioneer League South Division at 18-12.

Mound masters

There’s efficient, and then there’s the performances turned in by Idaho Falls’ pitching trio Monday. Machado set the tone,allowing a double to Eudy Ramos with one out in the second inning but nothing else. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander pounded the strike zone, didn’t walk a hitter and struck out four in five innings. And he did it on just 51 pitches.

“He was dominating,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “He had a good fastball, he had command He was on.”

Machado was followed by the 6-foot-10 lefty Way, who allowed just one hit while striking out two in two scoreless innings. Cepin finished it off, giving up two hits and striking out one in two innings.

Hit parade

Idaho Falls entered the game as the Pioneer League’s best hitting team. They added nine hits in 31 at bats to that total, giving the Chukars a .326 team batting average. And while they didn’t reach double digits Monday, they were timely when it mattered.

Ricky Aracena got things started with a leadoff walk, Angelo Castellano moved him to second on a fielder’s choice, Manny Olloque got him to third with a sac fly and Meibrys Villoria brought him home with a single to center.

Idaho Falls followed the same pattern in the second, with Nick Heath drawing a leadoff walk, Ryan Dale following with single, Luke Willis adding a sac bunt and Castellano scoring Heath with a single to left.

The Chukars broke it open in the third, highlighted by Dale’s two-run single to center.

“They’ve got a consistent approach,” Gemoll said. “They’re locked in on what they want to hit.”

Player of the game

The honor has to go to Machado, who picked up his first win of the season. The native of Carabobo, Venezuela, has allowed just one run in the last 14 innings. Machado’s ERA was 13.50 after his first outing, 10.13 after his second and 7.62 after his third. It sits at 4.00 after Monday’s gem.

Up next

The Chukars and Osprey wrap up their four-game series at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Melaleuca Field. Idaho Falls is then off Wednesday before opening a four-game series in Helena, Mont. on Thursday.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 11, OSPREY 3: Idaho Falls kept its good streak going, piling up 17 hits and rolling to its fifth win in the past five games in front of 1,104 fans Sunday at Melaleuca Field.

Designated hitter Yeison Melo led the attack, going 4 for 4 while pushing his batting average to .351. Melo singled twice, doubled and belted a two-run homer in the third inning.

But Melo was far from the only hitting hero. Shortstop Ricky Aracena went 3 for 3, drew a walk and scored three runs, Third baseman Manny Olloque was 3 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI while second baseman Jordan Ebert went 3 for 5 with double, a run and two RBIs for Idaho Falls.

That was more than enough support for Chukars starter Igol Feliz. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty worked a solid seven innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season. Lefty Christian Flecha got the final six outs, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one.

Chukars fall 16-5 for worst loss of season

Aracena
Aracena

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ losing streak reached three games Friday thanks to their worst loss of the season.

I.F. opened its four-game road series with a 16-5 loss to the Orem Owlz. It’s the most runs the Chukars have allowed in a game all season.

Struggling arms

The Chukars trailed 5-4 heading into after a three-run top of the fifth inning. The glimmer of hope quickly disappeared when Orem catcher Micahel Barash hit a grand slam, his first professional home run in 40 at-bats.

That grand slam came off of Matt Portland, who entered Friday’s game with a 6.39 ERA. He left it with a 9.18 ERA. And he was one of three Chukars pitchers to get knocked around.

Portland lasted four innings. The left-hander allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits, one walk and two hit batsmen.

Fellow lefty Sam Selman relieved Portland and didn’t allow an earned run. He did, however, give up two runs on three hits, and his ERA dropped to 13.50.

Reinaldo Cepin pitched the final 2.1 innings. He only allowed one walk, but five hits led to five runs (three earned).

All told, I.F. pitchers allowed 19 hits, and the defense committed four errors.

Outlier loss

Before Friday, I.F. had not suffered a blowout loss. The closest thing to it was a 7-1 defeat at Ogden on June 29. The Chukars’ other eight losses were by three runs or fewer.

A first for Aracena

It wasn’t as important as Barash’s slam, but Ricky Aracena’s solo home run in the top of the seventh ended a longer drought.

Aracena had gone 187 at-bats in his two-year professional career without hitting a big fly. The seventh inning blast traveled 388 feet, according to Chukars broadcaster Andrew Haynes, and it cut I.F.’s deficit to 11-5.

Aracena came close to an inside-the-park homer in Tuesday’s home game against Ogden. Manager and third base coach Justin Gemoll gave Aracena a chance by waving him home after a deep hit in the third inning, but the shortstop fell down rounding third base and settled for a triple.

Player of the game

Owlz catcher Michael Barash

The milestone grand slam wasn’t enough for Barash, apparently. The rookie catcher finished 4 for 5 with six RBIs.

Up next

The Chukars (11-10) begin game two against the Owlz (14-7) at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Chukars walk off unlikely winners over Ogden

Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

A game that deserved a wild ending got just that when Meibrys Viloria crushed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to hand the Idaho Falls Chukars a 16-12 victory over the Ogden Raptors in front of a season-best crowd of 3,678 fans Monday night at Melaleuca Field.

Viloria’s 458-foot blast high over the wall in right field sent the fans scurrying to catch the fireworks show 10 minutes before the scheduled 10 p.m. start time, and sent the Chukars to an unlikely win.

Overcoming the odds

Idaho Falls did everything it could to hand the game to Ogden, falling behind 7-0 in the second inning, committing seven errors and walking 12 Raptors hitters. Fittingly, the Chukars were a strike away from a win in the top of the ninth when a close pitch went against Idaho Falls lefty Reinaldo Cepin. DJ Peters made the Chukars pay, sending the next pitch into left field to score the tying run.

Viloria
Viloria

But Brian Bayliss got the final out of the ninth and then worked a scoreless 10th before Idaho Falls loaded the bases on single, a sac bunt, an intentional walk and another walk. Yeison Melo had the first chance to end it, but he struck out after getting ahead in the count. That left it up to Viloria, the Chukars’ leading hitter this summer. Viloria worked the count into his favor before launching a no-doubter to right for this team-high third home run and setting off a celebration at home plate.

As they have done for much of the season, the Chukars were able to overcome bad defense (they lead the Pioneer League in errors) and inconsistent pitching with dominating offense. One day after collecting 18 hits, Idaho Falls finished with 19 in Monday’s win. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, four had two hits and Tanner Stanley (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs), Colton Frabasilio (3 for 5, two runs, RBI) and Viloria (3 for 5, three runs, six RBIs) had three.

Overlooked

Lanky left-hander Cole Way didn’t have his best stuff, but his three innings of shutout relief allowed the Chukars to rally from the early 7-0 deficit. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound punter-turned-pitcher from Tulsa, Okla., allowed just one hit and walked three while striking out four. His ERA dropped to 2.08.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

The sweet-swinging lefty has been a nightmare for pitchers this summer. He entered Monday second in the league with .467 average, going 21 of 45 with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. He increased his average to .480 on Monday, adding his 10th double and third home run while pushing his RBI total to 19 (tied for the team lead).

Up next

The Chukars wrap up their six-game homestand with a game against the Ogden Raptors tonight. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls then hits the road for three games at Ogden and three more at Orem before taking a day off July 12.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 18, ROCKIES 7: Idaho Falls blasted five homers on a breezy Sunday afternoon and cruised to a win over the Rockies, giving the Chukars three wins in the four-game series.

Luke Willis, Leland Clemmons, Ryan Dale, David Edwards and Manny Olloque went deep for the Chukars, who finished with 18 hits. Olloque led the hit parade, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Willis was 3 for 5 with four runs and two RBIs, Ricky Aracena was 3 for 6 with two runs and two RBIs and Angelo Castellano went 2 for 4 with a double, a run and two RBIs.

Arnaldo Hernandez earned the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Fifth annual Chukars-Bandits game ends in a 7-7 tie

Bandits shortstop Hunter Leavitt tags out Chukars right fielder Yeison Melo on a stolen base attempt during an exhibition game Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Bandits shortstop Hunter Leavitt tags out Chukars right fielder Yeison Melo on a stolen base attempt during an exhibition game Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

It was Brandon Bialas’ night.

The Idaho Falls Bandits pitcher and infielder celebrated his birthday Thursday, earned a scholarship, drove in the tying run and scored a late go-ahead run against the Idaho Falls Chukars at Melaleuca Field.

The run Bialas scored gave the Bandits a 7-6 lead in the top of the seventh inning. The Chukars ended up tying it in the bottom of the inning, and both teams decided to end the game at 7-7. In the exhibition game’s five-year history, it’s the first time the Bandits have not lost.

“0-4-1,” Bandits coach Joldy Watts said. “We’ll take the one.”

Before his heroics, Bialas earned the first annual Michael McGuire Carlos Watts Idaho Falls American Legion Baseball Scholarship (more on that later).

Bialas came to the plate in the seventh with two outs and Kolten Westergard at second base. In a 1-2 count, Bialas crushed a Reed Hueter pitch into the right-center field gap for a double, tying the game at 6-6. Jace Jones came up next and skied a double off the glove of Chukars center fielder Tanner Stanley, scoring Bialas for the Bandits’ first lead of the game.

This is Bialas’ third year as a Bandit. Compared to American Legion games, he said exhibition games against the Chukars feel foreign. Players face pitchers from their respective squads, and the crowds are exponentially larger (Thursday’s announced attendance was 2,860).

“It’s definitely a lot more intense, with the crowd and everything,” Bialas said. “It’s always fun to hit off your own guys. We kind of have a good time with them. But definitely more intense, and the adrenaline is flowing a lot more.”

The Chukars quickly tied the game in the bottom of the seventh thanks to singles by Jose Sanchez and Angelo Castellano. With one out, both teams left the field. Both teams agreed before the game that innings would end when the Chukars pitchers reached their pitch limits, regardless of the out total, and the game wouldn’t go past seven innings. Chukars’ pitcher Reinaldo Cepin had reached his pitch limit in the seventh, Watts said.

Andrew Gregersen is in his first season with the Bandits. He’s also a freshman who had struggled in his first 14 Legion games. Gregersen looked spry in his first at-bat, though, looping a double to left field off of Sage Trejo.

“It’s been a hard summer so far,” Gregersen said. “Hopefully that double will keep my wheels rolling.”

The Bandits understand the context of their tie. Both teams faced their own pitchers, every Bandit batted, seven Bandits pitched and the Chukars rotated several batters and pitchers. It was hardly a head-to-head matchup.

But the result was still unprecedented, and the Bandits left the field in good spirits. Especially Bialas, who topped off a dream day by devouring a cupcake.

“To have a birthday like that, couldn’t beat it,” Bialas said.

Michael McGuire Carlos Watts Idaho Falls American Legion Baseball Scholarship

The scholarship Bialas received Thursday honors the fathers of Joldy Watts and Bandits assistant coach Colben McGuire.

Carlos Watts’ kidneys failed him earlier this year, and doctors feared he also had prostate cancer. Carlos Watts, 62, is now free of cancer and recovering in his Arizona home.

Around the same time Carlos Watts had his cancer scare, Michael McGuire, 66, was diagnosed with colon and lung cancer. Michael, who is also the father of Joldy Watts’ wife Megan, is now cancer-free and was in attendance for Thursday’s game.

The scholarship Bialas received is worth $500 and is “given to a young man who excels on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” per a news release from the I.F. American Legion Baseball vice president Cliff Brady.