The parent club Kansas City Royals had their World Series championship trophy in town, and the Idaho Falls Chukars performed like they were playing to hoist the hardware.
Coming off his worst start of the season (four innings, 11 hits, eight runs against Orem), Idaho Falls pitcher Matt Portland turned in arguably his best against Helena Friday night, earning his second win with five innings, two runs, three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Behind him, the Chukars defense made the plays they needed to and the offense pounded three home runs. That all added up to a 9-2 win and a three-game series sweep of the visiting Brewers.
Portland retired the first six hitters he faced before hitting the leadoff batter in the third inning. Helena loaded the bases with two away, but a long fly ball was tracked down by Nick Heath to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Idaho Falls received solo home runs from David Edwards, leading off the second, and Luke Willis, leading off the fourth, as well as an RBI triple from Meibrys Viloria to take a 3-0 lead into the fifth.
Portland faltered in the top of the fifth, walking two and giving up all three hits as Helena scored twice. A chance for a larger Brewers outburst was halted, however, when Viloria picked off a runner who strayed too far from second base for out number three.
With the lead cut to one, the Idaho Falls offense went back to work in the bottom of the fifth, and in a big way. Jordan Ebert singled to get it started, and Heath added a hit of his own. Angelo Castellano drove in a run with a lineout sacrifice fly to center, Willis singled and Ricky Aracena scored Heath and reached first on a squeeze bunt. After a strikeout, Yeison Melo put the capper on the frame: a three-run blast, 428 feet, his first of the year. After the dust settled Idaho Falls had scored five times for an 8-2 lead.
The home team scored once more in the fifth as Castellano brought in Heath, who had doubled and stole third, with a single through the drawn-in infield.
Enmanuel Camacho came on for two 1-2-3 innings, and Paul Young made his Chukars debut in the eighth with three walks, a double play and a strikeout. Drew Milligan finished the game with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
The Chukars improve to a season-best five games over .500 at 16-11, and their current four-game win streak is their best in 2016 as well. An Orem comeback win over Great Falls prevented Idaho Falls from tying the Owlz for first in the South with 11 games remaining in the first half.
Idaho Falls and the Missoula Osprey open their four-game series Saturday night at 7:15. The Royals' World Series trophy will be available for pictures and viewing on the concourse during the game! In addition, it's Beach Party Night presented by Scenic Falls Credit Union, River Country, New Radio 590 and CW.
If you can't come to the game, make sure to listen to John Balginy and Andrew Haynes on the call on ESPN 980 AM (and the TuneIn app), 105.1 FM and 94.5 FM.
For tickets and other information, call (208) 522-8363, follow the Chukars on Facebook or Twitter (@ifchukars) or visit www.ifchukars.com.