The Idaho Falls Chukars began their six-game road trip close to must-win territory.
The Chukars entered Saturday 3.5 games out of first place in the Pioneer League South Division’s second half standings. The team they were chasing: the Grand Junction Rockies, who were preparing to host I.F. for a four-game series.
On Saturday, the Chukars declared themselves alive in the playoff race with a 13-3 win over the Rockies at Suplizio Field. I.F.’s lineup caught up to its pitching staff, and its win streak improved to three games.
Pitching phenom Riley Pint made his professional debut against the Chukars on July 1, when he pitched two scoreless innings. The No. 4 overall pick in June’s MLB draft did not fare so well Saturday.
Pint allowed three hits, walked five and struck out three in three innings. All five of the runs he allowed (four earned) scored in the second inning. The Chukars tallied three hits and three walks in the frame.
The outburst in the fifth was all the Chukars would need, but they were unsatisfied. I.F. scored once in the fourth, twice in the sixth, thrice in the seventh and twice against in the eighth. The team compiled 14 hits (five doubles) and six walks.
Saturday was I.F.’s highest scoring game since its 17-7 win over Missoula on July 25. The Chukars hadn’t scored more than nine runs in a game since that date, either.
Arms stay sharp
Make that eight straight effective starts by I.F. pitchers. Arnaldo Hernandez pitched five efficient innings, in which he allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks. The right-hander struck out six Rockies, too.
The bullpen was even better. Jason Freeman, who allowed seven runs in 2.2 innings Monday against Billings, pitched two scoreless innings Saturday. The righty allowed one hit and one walk, and he struck out one.
Nick Andros, who entered Saturday’s game with an 8.18 ERA, didn’t allow one baserunner (who reached on an error) in two innings. The lefty struck out four, as well.
Player of the game
Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque
An easy choice nearly made easier. Olloque went 4 for 6 with two doubles, both of which hit off the right field wall, according to Chukars broadcaster Andrew Haynes.
Chukars first baseman David Edwards would have nabbed this honor on most other nights. He went 3 for 3 with a double and two walks.
The Chukars (30-27, 8-11) and Rockies (26-30, 10-8) return to Suplizio Field on Sunday at 7:05 p.m. I.F.’s Igol Feliz (5.40 ERA) faces fellow righthy Yohander Quintana (8.15).