Returning home after a 1-6 road trip, the Idaho Falls Chukars were looking for something positive to turn around their month of August.
At the beginning of their home game against the Great Falls Voyagers, a breakout looked imminent. The Chukars put up a run in the first and continued to get runners on base. In the end, though, the Voyagers came back to score seven unanswered runs and win the first of a three-game series, 7-2.
The turning point came in the top of the seventh when, with the bases loaded and two out in a 2-1 ballgame, a grounder to shortstop Ricky Aracena was thrown past second base and down the right field line. All three runners scored for a Great Falls lead.
In the eighth, Aaron Schnurbusch put Idaho Falls further behind with a two-run, opposite field home run. The Voyagers added one more in the ninth on two singles and a sacrifice fly.
Idaho Falls went on top in the first inning. Rudy Martin was hit by a pitch and stole second base, and he later scored on a high-bouncing single off the bat of Yeison Melo. The inning ended with two Chukars on base.
Three more runners were left on by the hosts in the second and third, but the Chukars extended their lead to two in the fifth. Martin started that frame by reaching on an error. He was sacrificed to second base before stealing third, and Manny Olloque brought him home with a single.
Chukars pitcher Matt Portland had one of his best starts of the year, facing the minimum through five innings and pitching into the seventh inning. He allowed a run on a two-out double in the sixth and was removed with two on and one out in the seventh. Portland was saddled with the loss, but of the three runs he allowed, just one was earned.
Game two of the Chukars - Voyagers series is Saturday night at 7:15. It is Pocatello and Blackfoot night, Courtesy Lincoln Night and Farm Bureau Insurance Night, presented by Portneuf Medical Center, Rich Broadcasting, Post Register, KVUI-31 and others.
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.