The inevitable didn't happen.
The Idaho Falls Chukars, leading by one run late in the game on the road, stood strong to hold off the Orem Owlz Wednesday night for a 3-2 victory in the first game of four in a row between the teams.
It was only the third road win for Idaho Falls in the month of August, and only the second this season by one run at the opponent's home field. By contrast the Chukars have lost by one run on the road 11 times this year.
The Chukars got off to a good start in the first, as Manny Olloque hit a single just inside the bag at third before Meibrys Viloria laced his sixth double in five games on the road trip to score Olloque from first.
A double and an error tied the game for Orem in the third. In the sixth, Joe Dudek stepped up with two out and Viloria on first after his third hit of the game. Left-handed batting Dudek hit an opposite-field laser, and the shot sailed just over the left-field fence to put Idaho Falls ahead, 3-1.
Orem drew within one in the bottom of the inning, when a sacrifice fly to left scored Zach Gibbons on a contested play at the plate. It appeared Nick Heath's throw and Viloria's tag were in time for the third out, but Gibbons was ruled safe.
Both runs scored against Chukars starter Matt Portland, who ended up with six strong innings and five strikeouts for his fourth win of the season. Jason Freeman pitched the final three innings for his first save of the year, though he had to fight through a jam in the eighth. Gibbons doubled to lead off and Orem attempted to sacrifice him to third base, but Freeman's throw to third was just in time for the tag on another close call. The Owlz still ended up with runners on second and third and two away, but Freeman induced a grounder to Ricky Aracena to end the frame.
With Grand Junction's extra-innings loss to Ogden, the Chukars move to four and a half games behind the Rockies in the second-half standings with 15 left to play.
Idaho Falls and Orem play one more at the Home of the Owlz Thursday night before the two teams play Friday and Saturday at Melaleuca Field.
Friday night free backpacks will be given to the first 500 school-aged kids, courtesy of the Bank of Idaho and presented by KUPI, Arrow, Post Register and Fox-5.
Make sure to listen to Andrew Haynes on the call of road games 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.