Chukars Win 2nd Straight in Grand Junction
By: Tyson Whiting
The Idaho Falls Chukars broke a 5-5 deadlock as they scored 2 runs in the 6th inning to take a 7-5 lead. They added a 9th inning insurance run to beat the Grand Junction Rockies 8-5 at Suplizio Field on Monday night.
Idaho Falls exploded for 5 runs in the top of the first inning. Chase Vallot hit a grand slam to left-center field to give the Chukars an early 4-0 lead. It was Vallot's 6th dinger of the season. It was the 3rd grand slam by a Chukars player this year. The next batter, Nick Hutchins made it back to back homers as he hit one over the short porch in left field to make it a 5-0 game. Hutchins now has 7 on the season to lead the club.
The Rockies got on the board in the 2nd inning on a Niko Decolati opposite field home run. Grand Junction got 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th to make it a 5-4 Chukars lead. The Rockies scored 1 more to tie the game in the bottom of the 5th as Hunter Stovall hit a leadoff triple. He scored 1 batter later on a Coco Montes RBI groundout to short.
The defining stretch of the game came in the top of the 6th inning as Hunter Strong hit a leadoff triple. He scored on a Julio Gonzalez RBI single. Gonzalez went to 2nd on an error by CF Daniel Montano. Julio advanced to 3rd on an Offerman Collado sacrifice bunt. Kyle Kasser drove home Gonzalez on an RBI single to make it a 7-5 Chukars lead.
The Chukars added an insurance run in the 9th inning on a Nick Hutchins RBI double to make it a 8-5 game. Jaret Hellinger closed the door as he pitched a 1-2-3, 9th inning. Hellinger got the save, working 3 shutout innings, allowing only 1 hit, 0 walks and struck out 1.
Teddy Cillis relieved starting pitcher Nate Webb and picked up his first win of the season. Cillis allowed 1 run in 2.1 innings as the Chukars have won 2 in a row and have won 2 of the first 3 games in this important 4 game series. Idaho Falls is now 9-6 vs Grand Junction on the year. The Rockies are tied with the Ogden Raptors for the Pioneer League Southern division race. The Chukars are 1.5 games back. Idaho Falls is 0.5 games behind the Rockies in the overall standings, which would be critical if the Raptors win the 2nd half in the south.
Tuesday night is the finale of the series and an outstanding pitching match-up. Kris Bubic goes for the Chukars. He was the 40th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Royals. He is opposed by 22nd overall pick Ryan Rolison, who goes for the Rockies. 6:40 pm first pitch.
Chukars notes: The back to back home runs for the Chukars in the first inning is the first time that's happened this year. Nate Eaton had 2 more hits in the game tonight. He is 8 for 13 in the first 3 games of the series. Eaton is leading the league with a .364 average. He also has taken over the league lead with 80 hits on the year. The Chukars had 6 extra base hits in the game. Reed Rohlman hit a 9th inning double. He now leads the league with 22 doubles on the year. It was a great game for Nick Hutchins, who hit a first inning solo home run and a 9th inning RBI double. Hutchins leads the team with 7 home runs on the year. Vallot hit the 3rd grand slam of the year for the Chukars. The other 2 times were against the Ogden Raptors. Manny Olloque hit a grand slam on June 18th. Kyle Kasser hit one on July 3rd. The Chukars did not commit an error in the game. They have a record of 14-3 when they don't commit an error. Chukars are 6 games over .500 for the first time all year. They were 5 games over .500 many times this year but never 6. Time of game: 3:17. Attendance was 1,764.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.