Idaho Falls, ID - Even with a series win against Billings in the Northern Division Championship Series, the Chukars still had difficulty getting the bats going, never registering more than six hits in each of the three games. In game one of the Pioneer League Championship Series against the Ogden Raptors, the Chukars managed just two hits and struck out a season high seven times. Ogden won 5-3, forcing the Chukars into a win or go home scenario in game two.
Despite the lack of offense the Chukars opened up the scoring in the third inning on a series of crazy plays. Ogden starter Juan Morillo walked Jimmy Govern & Isaiah Henry to start the third inning. Wyatt Mascarella put a bunt down that catcher Ramon Rodriguez threw to second, and it went wide, scoring Govern to make it 1-0 Idaho Falls. Jose Marquez followed with a single that loaded the bases, and Clay Dungan grounded a ball to third that Sauryn Lao threw past Rodriguez at home, scoring two to extend the lead to three.
Ogden came back with a run in the fourth inning against starter Chih-Ting Wang, and the Chukars had a chance to get a run & possibly more back in the bottom of the fourth inning, but squandered a golden opportunity. Juan Carlos Negret, Govern, and Henry walked consecutively to open the inning, ending the day for Ogden lefty Jacob Cantleberry. Corey Merrill then entered and punched out the next three hitters, ending the inning and turning the tide in the game.
The Raptors knockout punch came in the fifth inning, as the inning started with an Andy Pages single and a Zac Ching walk. Lao hit a ball to short that could have been two, but Dungan committed a rare error, whiffing on the grounder and allowing Pages to score, cutting the lead to one. Marco Hernandez followed with a single to load the bases, and Ching the tying run scored on a Jimmy Titus sacrifice fly. Jon Littell's ground out to third plated Lao, putting Ogden up 4-3.
In the seventh the Raptors added an insurance run on a pair of errors, but it was irrelevant as the Chukars managed just one hit the rest of the game. Merrill earned the win, punching out a career high seven over a career long three innings of relief.
The series shifts to Ogden tomorrow as the Chukars need a win to keep their season alive First pitch is at 6:30 PM, and you can listen to the game on ESPN 980 The Sports Zone beginning at 6:15.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.