Tag: Tanner Stanley

Chukars Notebook: Divergent first-half records


The first half of the Pioneer League baseball season will conclude in four days, and the Idaho Falls Chukars are tied for first place in the South Division. The Chukars have already won 20 games, a mark they didn’t reach last summer until August.

With 20 new players this season, I.F. was bound to play differently than last year’s team. But this much improvement is impossible to predict. Here are a few key areas of success for I.F. this half:

Deep lineup 

Alexis Rivera was one of the Pioneer League’s best hitters last season before moving up to Single-A Lexington (he was released this spring but signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels). Josh Banuelos and Amalani Fukofuka painted the field with hits, as well, especially in the first half. The dropoff between those three and the rest of the lineup was Yellowstone Falls-esque.

Shortstop Marten Gasparini and second baseman D.J. Burt hovered around the Mendoza line. When right fielder Brawlun Gomez wasn’t hitting home runs, he was probably striking out. Third baseman Ryan Dale was never productive.

This year’s lineup is as deep as it relentless. I.F. has five wins this season when it trailed in the seventh inning or later, and that’s despite an error-prone defense and a shaky bullpen.

The bats are highlighted by catcher Meibrys Viloria, who transcends hyperbole. He leads the Pioneer League in five categories: batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, doubles and RBIs.

Viloria’s season has rendered many of his teammates underrated, namely third baseman Manny Olloque, right fielder Yeison Melo, outfielder Luke Willis and first baseman David Edwards.

Outfielder Tanner Stanley and first basemen Colton Frabasilio and Brandon Dulin were all promoted after each hitting over .300 in I.F. Newer starters like second baseman Jordan Ebert and outfielders Nick Heath and Rudy Martin have filled in admirably.

The only mediocre everyday hitters are Ricky Aracena and Angelo Castellano, and even the 5-foot-8 Aracena has trouble fitting into that category. The shortstop was hitting .282 with a .702 OPS through Friday.

The Chukars have already scored 274 runs (8.1 per game) this summer. They mustered 238 (6.3 per game) in the first half of 2015.

Improved pitching 

None of I.F.’s 2016 starters own ERAs worse than 7.00. Three I.F. starters had ERAs above 7.00 at this point last season, which led to more innings for a shaky bullpen. This year’s bullpen has been inconsistent, but manager Justin Gemoll has three arms with sub-4.00 ERAs at his disposal.

The biggest difference between these two staffs: strikes.

I.F. had issued 3.4 walks per game going into Saturday. Last year’s team averaged 3.8. Like nearly every 2015 pitching stat, that number was much higher in the first half.

Home comfort

The Chukars are 5-10 on the road this season, not far off from their 5-13 record away from home in the first half last season. The obvious key difference is at home.

I.F.’s home record this summer is 15-4, easily the best in the Pioneer League. The Chukars’ home run differential is plus-60, as well. The club went 8-12 at Melaleuca Field in first half last year, and they were outscored by 12 runs in those 20 games.


Cheslor Cuthbert moved up from Triple-A to the Kansas City Royals in May to fill-in for another former Chukar, Mike Moustakas. The All-Star third baseman is out for the season with a torn ACL, but Cuthbert has done his best to fix the broken hearts in Kansas City.

A 2-for-3 performance Saturday lifted Cuthbert’s batting average over .300 and his OPS over .800, the second time that’s happened in 63 games this season (the first time was in his fourth game).

Cuthbert’s progression has been linear. He hit .253 with a .601 OPS in May, .283 and .844 in June and .377 and .958 thus far in July. He also has nine home runs on the year.

Cuthbert played 14 games for I.F. in 2010 as a 17-year-old. He got a cup of coffee with Kansas City last season, when he hit .217 with a .650 OPS in 19 games.


The Royals haven’t initiated much movement with the Chukars roster the last two weeks. In fact, I.F. has undergone just two makeovers since July 5.

July 13: Chukars outfielder Tanner Stanley moves up to Lexington. Fellow outfielder Leland Clemmons is released. Second baseman Jordan Ebert, outfielder Rudy Martin and right-handed pitcher Paul Young are promoted from the Arizona League to I.F.

July 16: Double-A Northwest Arkansas activates left-hander Sam Selman from the 7-day disabled list, ending his rehab assignment with the Chukars.


RHP Andres Machado 

Machado had a 13.50 ERA after his first start. That number shriveled to 4.00 after Monday’s gem against Missoula.

Machado didn’t allow a run or a walk in five innings against the Osprey. He gave up one hit and struck out four.

Machado’s stinginess doesn’t end there. He has allowed one earned run on 11 hits, one walk and 17 strikeouts in his last 14 innings pitched.


INF Angelo Castellano

Castellano’s batting average was as high as .280 on July 4. Since then he’s gone 12 for 56 (.214). He still has a solid OBP (.350 through Friday), but his patience has waned lately. And Castellano has only hit five extra-base hits all season, including none for home runs.

Chukars’ home prosperity continues with 8-2 win


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.

Bats show life in Chukars’ 10-8 win over Orem


The Idaho Falls Chukars avenged Friday night’s 16-5 bludgeoning and snapped a three-game losing streak thanks to a revitalized offense on Saturday.

The Chukars nearly squandered a big lead, but they held on for a 10-8 win over the Orem Owlz Saturday in Orem.

Bats awoken

The Chukars scored 12 total runs during their three-game losing streak to start their current road trip. Their bats finally awoke on Saturday.

I.F.’s lineup combined to record 15 hits, three walks and one hit batsman. The Chukars broke out with a five-run second inning and increased the lead to 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Tanner Stanley went 3 for 5 and launched I.F.’s only extra-base hit, a two-run double in the top of the fifth.

Pitchers struggle to hold lead

Chukars starter Arnaldo Hernandez allowed one run in his first four innings and was gifted a 9-1 lead heading into the fifth. But the right-hander gave up three runs that inning, and Orem had hope.

I.F. increased the lead to 10-4 in the sixth, but the Owlz scored three times in the seventh and once in the eighth. Lefty Cole Way pitched in the three-run seventh, and Brian Bayliss allowed the final run.

Chukars pitchers allowed 12 hits and six walks on the night.

Thaiss moves up

Before Saturday’s game, Orem first baseman Matt Thaiss was promoted to Burlington, the Los Angeles Angels’ Single-A Affiliate.

Thaiss was the No. 16 overall pick in June’s MLB draft and earned a $2.15 million signing bonus, per the Orange County Register. He hit .338 with a .964 OPS in 65 at-bats for the Owlz these last two months. Against the Chukars, Thaiss went 4 for 14 with three doubles and his first professional home run.

Player of the game

Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque

Olloque didn’t record an extra-base hit, but a 4 for 5 performance at the plate is more than enough to earn this honor. Olloque now has a .350 batting average, good for the top 20 in the Pioneer League.

Up next

The Chukars (12-10) face the Owlz (14-8) at 4:05 p.m. Sunday in Orem. I.F.’s Igol Feliz (5.49 ERA) is scheduled to get the start against fellow righty Travis Herrin (10.80).

Chukars’ rally comes up short in Ogden


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 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.


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.


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.

Rockies overcome Chukars’ furious rally, win 14-13

The Idaho Falls Chukars could taste a third straight walk-off win. This one would’ve been the most thrilling.

The third time was not the charm.

Grand Junction designated hitter Colton Welker hit a two-strike, two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning. It proved to be the winning run in the Rockies’ 14-13 victory Saturday at Melaleuca Field, and it negated I.F.’s seven-run comeback.

Tragedy of errors

The Chukars went into Saturday’s game leading the Pioneer League with 35 errors. They did more than enough to maintain that lead Saturday.

I.F. piled up six errors, all through the first seven innings. Six of Grand Junction’s 14 runs were unearned.

Weirdly enough, those errors didn’t loom as large as one Grand Junction error in the bottom of the seventh.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Chukars right fielder Tanner Stanley hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Jose Gomez scooped it up and fired to first. The ball dove into the dirt, and Hunter Melton couldn’t handle it. Both runs scored to cut the Rockies’ lead to 13-10.

Two batters later, Yeison Melo hit a two-run double to tie it at 13-13. It capped a seven-run inning in which the Rockies committed both of their errors. Luckily for Grand Junction, the two miscues didn’t lead to a loss.

Viloria’s eventful night

I.F. catcher Meibrys Viloria caused some controversy Thursday night. In the bottom of the ninth, Viloria made a wide slide that clipped Jose Gomez on a double play attempt. Gomez dropped the ball, which allowed Colton Frabasilio to score the game-winning run.

Viloria hit his second home run of the season in the fourth inning Saturday, and he knew it right away. Viloria flipped his bat as soon as the three-run shot began its flight over the right field wall.

Viloria’s next plate appearance came in the bottom of the sixth. Heath Holder’s first pitch nicked Viloria in the back, and home plate umpire Steven Hodgins immediately ejected the right-hander.

Viloria and hitting coach Andre David, among other Chukars, lobbed angry words toward Grand Junction, but tensions cooled down after that.

Player of the game

Rockies first baseman Hunter Melton

Melton went 3 for 5 with a double, a walk and a two-run home run. The performance raised his batting average from .063 to .190.

Up next

The Chukars (8-7) and the Rockies (7-7) wrap up their four-game series at 4 p.m. Sunday. I.F.’s Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to face fellow righty Bryan Baker.

Ogden rallies, walks off against Chukars


For the second straight night, the Idaho Falls Chukars lost in walk-off fashion.

I.F. watched the Grand Junction Rockies celebrate a 6-5 win in 10 innings Monday night. On Tuesday night at Lindquist Field, the Ogden Raptors rallied in the bottom of the ninth to snatch a 12-11 victory away from the Chukars.

Fateful ninth inning

The Chukars led 11-9 going into the ninth and had a perfect opportunity to add insurance by putting runners on first and third base with nobody out. First baseman Ryan Dale hit a comebacker to the pitcher, who threw to third base to tag out Angelo Castellano. Chukars center fielder Nick Heath tried to reach third during the rundown with Castellano, but he was also tagged out. I.F.’s threat ended there.

I.F. inserted right-hander Jason Freeman in the ninth for a save attempt. He allowed four straight singles with one out, and the Raptors tied the game.

With runners at first and third and still one out, Ogden second baseman Will Smith hit a ground ball to Castellano at second base. Castellano flipped to Ricky Aracena for the first out at second, but Aracena’s throw to first was off target. The runner at third scored as a result, and the Raptors walked off.

Relentless Chukars offense

Ogden scored four in bottom of the second to take a 5-2 lead. I.F. tied it up the next inning. The Raptors answered with a three-run bottom of the third and led 9-6 after four.

Ogden went cold until the ninth, while the Chukars kept rolling. They scored once in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and twice in the eighth to take an 11-9 lead.

Hernandez struggles again

Chukars right-hander Arnaldo Hernandez started the season in ideal fashion. He allowed one earned run on three hits, five strikeouts and no walks in five innings against these very Raptors.

Hernandez labored through 4.2 innings against Orem on Thursday, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout.

The negative trend continued Tuesday.

Hernandez still threw strikes (42 compared to 22 balls), but the Raptors crushed them. Hernandez


lasted three innings, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits. His ERA is now 9.24.

Player of the game

Chukars center fielder Nick Heath

This could easily go to I.F. left fielder Tanner Stanley, who went 3 for 6 with a solo home run and a triple. But Heath reached base one more time than Stanley, and two of his hits went for extra bases (a two-run home run and an RBI double).

Heath finished 3 for 4 with a walk, a stolen base, two runs scored and three RBIs.

Up next

The Chukars (6-5) wrap up their five-day road trip and their two-game series with Ogden (2-9) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Big eighth inning lifts Chukars over Rockies 6-2


If not for an odd ejection on Wednesday, Meibrys Viloria might have started the season with a six-game hitting streak.

The Idaho Falls Chukars catcher is now batting .524 after a 2 for 4 performance against Grand Junction on Friday. Viloria helped the Chukars beat the Rockies 6-2 in I.F.’s first road game of the season, and he played an inconsequential role in the Chukars’ biggest inning.

Chukars breakout in the eighth

Viloria doubled and scored in the top of the fifth inning to give I.F. a 2-1 lead, but Grand Junction scored in the bottom of the sixth to tie it up. The game looked headed for extra innings.

Then came the eighth, when all nine I.F. batters got a plate appearance. The Chukars hit four singles, but three Grand Junction errors played a bigger role in the decisive inning. I.F. plated four runs in the eighth to take a 6-2 lead.

Viloria’s hot start in context

Viloria’s .524 batting average is now second in the Pioneer League behind Orem’s Brennon Lund (.550). Viloria does, however, have a league-leading six doubles, and his 1.520 on-base-plus-slugging percentage heading into Friday’s game led the league, as well.

Other contributors

I.F.’s 1-2 hitters center fielder Tanner Stanley and shortstop Ricky Aracena each went 2 for 5 against the Rockies, and first baseman Ryan Dale went 2 for 4.

Chukars starting pitcher Igol Feliz pitched six full innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Left-hander Cole Way pitched two scoreless innings (two hits allowed) for I.F., and fellow lefty Christian Flecha pitched a scoreless final frame (two walks allowed).

Player of the game

Grand Junction third baseman Jonathan Piron

Unlike Viloria and Rockies shortstop Taylor Snyder (2 for 4, home run), Piron did not commit an error. The third baseman went 2 for 4 with a double, a stolen base and a run scored on the night.

Up next

The Chukars (5-2) return to Sulplizio Field Saturday for game two of their four-game series against Grand Junction. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Rookie Matt Thaiss helps Owlz defeat Chukars 7-4

Idaho Falls' Manny Olloque makes the tag at third on Orem's Brennon Lund during Tuesday's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls’ Manny Olloque makes the tag at third on Orem’s Brennon Lund during Tuesday’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Idaho Falls Chukars manager Justin Gemoll did not watch the game-winning home run clear the fence. Instead, he listened to Chukars broadcaster John Balginy describe it.

Orem’s Matt Thaiss hit the game-winner, a three-run moonshoot to right field in the top of the ninth inning that broke a 4-4 tie. Gemoll had been ejected three innings earlier and was relegated to the clubhouse.

The Owlz held on in the bottom of the ninth to complete a 7-4 win Tuesday night at Melaleuca Field. Orem (3-1) has won three in a row, including the first two of their four-game series against I.F. (2-2).

Thaiss as nice

Thaiss had quite the professional debut.

The 21-year-old was selected with the 16th overall pick in the MLB draft a week and a half ago and played first base Tuesday, even though he primarily played catcher as a junior at the University of Virginia. The inexperience at first base showed against the Chukars. He missed a foul pop fly, failed to corral a pickoff throw and made a wayward throw to second base on another pickoff play.

Thaiss made up for the defensive miscues with his bat.

Thaiss doubled in the first and eighth innings. With left-hander Nick Andros on the mound, I.F. chose to intentionally walk righty Jahmai Jones (a 2015 second-round pick) in the ninth inning to put runners on first and second base for Thaiss.

“That’s just reading the situation of the game and playing the matchup,” Gemoll said.

Thaiss made the Chukars pay by bombing the first pitch just left of the foul pole. Right fielder Tanner Stanley could only watch as it sailed over the fence.

Gemoll gets tossed

With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Owlz right fielder Troy Montgomery attempted to bunt for a single. The base umpire called him out on a close play at first base, and the Chukars filed into the dugout as Orem manager Dave Stapleton argued the call. The umpires then convened and reversed the call, ruling Montgomery safe.

Gemoll came storming out of the dugout to argue with the home plate umpire.

“With a guy at first base like that, the home plate guy’s got to watch the baserunner,” Gemoll said. “When you call him out, you call him out. If he’s watching first base and the other guy’s got the call, then there’s nobody watching the baserunner. So that was my point. You can’t have your eyes in both places at the same time. Not with a runner on.”

After about 20 seconds of heated debate, the umpire ejected Gemoll. It was Gemoll’s first ejection in his managerial career, which started last season with the Chukars.

Olloque breaks through

Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque earned his first hit as a Chukar in style, lining a double down the left-field line in the first inning that scored two runs and tied the game at 2-2. He also hit a single in the eighth inning to finish 2 for 4.

Player of the game

Orem first baseman Matt Thaiss

Thaiss knows how to make an entrance.

Orem’s Troy Montgomery and I.F.’s Luke Willis each had three hits (all singles), and I.F.’s Nick Heath (1 for 4) hit his first professional home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The solo blast tied the game at 4-4.

Up next

I.F. sends left-hander Matt Portland to the mound, and Orem starts righty Austin Robichaux on Wednesday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is 7:15 p.m.

Everyone contributes in Chukars’ 7-2 win over Ogden


The Idaho Falls Chukars continued their strong start to the 2016 season with a 7-2 win over Ogden on Saturday at Melaleuca Field.

The win netted the Chukars a two-game series sweep. I.F.’s pitching staff continued to prevent runs, and the entire lineup contributed, most notably center fielder Nick Heath.

Memorable debut

Heath’s baseball future was in question as recent as last Saturday. He didn’t know which MLB team would draft him or which round he’d be taken in.

A week later, Heath started in center field and batted eighth in the Chukars’ lineup. The 22-year-old, selected by Kansas City in the 16th round of last week’s draft, played a key role in the 7-2 win.

“Good to get the nerves out of the way,” said Heath, who arrived in Idaho Falls on Friday.

The speedy Heath narrowly avoided hitting into a double play in his first at-bat, and his right shoe fell off as he beat out the throw to first base.

Heath earned his first professional hit in his second at-bat, lining a single up the middle that hit pitcher Miguel Urena in the side (Urena appeared to be fine and remained in the game).

“The second at-bat, I was just as nervous as my first one,” Heath said. “I got on base, took a deep breath, relaxed and got after it the rest of the night.”

Heath went 2 for 4 and scored a run.

Remaining stingy

I.F. allowed 16 runs in each of its first two games last season, both at home against Grand Junction. The Chukars and Raptors combined to score 19 runs in this weekend’s two-game series, and Ogden scored only four of them.

The pitchers’ key on Friday was attacking the strike zone. Arnaldo Hernandez, Alex Luna and Reid Redman combined to throw 111 pitches in the 8-2 win. They threw 83 strikes and didn’t walk a single batter.

Chukars pitchers allowed five walks Saturday but just six hits. Starter Igol Feliz issued three bases on balls, but he escaped multiple jams thanks to his hard fastball (it topped out at 95 miles per hour), impressive off-speed pitches and good defense behind him.

Deep lineup

The Chukars compiled 24 total hits in their two wins over Ogden this weekend, and every hitter reached base at least once.

In game one, only shortstop Ricky Aracena and third baseman Manny Olloque didn’t record hits, but both walked (Aracena once, Ollqoue twice). Aracena went 2 for 4 with a walk in game two, and Olloque walked once. Of the 11 I.F. batters to get plate appearance these first two games, Olloque is the only one without a hit.

Aracena, Heath, Yeison Melo, Meibrys Viloria and Colton Frabasilio each recorded two hits on Saturday, and Tanner Stanley went 3 for 5. Stanley is now 4 for 8 with a walk.

Player of the game

Chukars first baseman Brandon Dulin

Dulin had only one hit Saturday night, but it was the loudest.

The 23-year-old came up with two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the first inning. With his parents Jason and Lisa Dulin in attendance, the left-hander crushed the first pitch toward the scoreboard in left-center field. The ball traveled over the wall at 404 feet, per the Chukars’ in-stadium stat system, to give I.F. a 2-0 lead.

It was the first and only home run hit at Melaleuca Field in this young season. Dulin now has 20 home runs in his pro career, which started in 2013.

In addition to the big fly, Dulin played solid defense all night.

Up next

The Chukars get Father’s Day off and return to Melaleuca Field on Monday to begin a four-game series against the Orem Owlz. Right-hander Andres Machado is scheduled to start on the mound for I.F.