The Idaho Falls Chukars made a huge push toward the playoffs on Monday as they completed a sweep of the Missoula Paddleheads, winning game three by the score of 17-10. Idaho Falls, who trails Missoula in the Northern Division now by only 2.0 games, finish off the homestand with a
The Idaho Falls Chukars made a huge push toward the playoffs on Monday as they completed a sweep of the Missoula Paddleheads, winning game three by the score of 17-10. Idaho Falls, who trails Missoula in the Northern Division now by only 2.0 games, finish off the homestand with a 5-1 record and now have won 5 straight ballgames.
The series against the Paddleheads began on Saturday after series victory against the Boise Hawks in the previous three games. Missoula put up 4 runs in the very first inning but it did not prove to be an omen for the game as the Chukars answered back with 3 runs in the 2nd, 3 runs in the 3rd, and 5 runs in the 5th. They won the game 16-8 behind performances from 3B Webb Little (3/5, 4 RBI), 1B Daniel Martins-Molinari (2/4, HR, 2 RBI), and RF Kona Quiggle in his debut (2/3, 4 R).
Then the craziness started.
In game 2 of the series, the game was tied after 9 innings tied 2-2. That meant for the first time this season, the Chukars would be going to their first Knockout Round. For those unfamiliar, it is a “Home Run Derby”-style contest in which each batter gets 5 swings/10 pitches to out-homer their opponent. In the first round Webb Little faced off against Jared Akins. Now, it needs to be said that during the game there was a shift in the wind around the 7th inning and it was blowing straight into the infield. Neither Little nor Akins were able to hit a home run.
In Round 2, Brady West faced off against Nick Gatewood, and again, neither player was able to hit it out. At this point it went to Round 3, and per Pioneer League rules, each team must keep in the Round 2 batters for all consecutive rounds. The Chukars kept in Brady West but Missoula brought in a 3rd hitter, Zachary Almond. Almond won the 3rd Round 1-0 to give Missoula the victory.
The Chukars filed an official protest with the league after the game, an investigation was commenced by Pioneer League Commissioner Jim McCurdy and Missoula was found to have broken league rules. As a remedy to the situation, both teams would have to redo round three the next day. And this time, with the wind blowing out, Gatewood faced West in Round 3. Both players were able to hit one in Round 3. Then in the 4th, West was able to win it for the Chukars in a 1-0 round.
For the Chukars to complete the sweep they needed to get past the Paddleheads best starter Domingo Pena, who already beat the Chukars once this year. But this time the Chukars got to Pena. Idaho Falls exploded for 6 runs in the 1st and 7 runs in the 3rd. 2B Steve Barmakian went 3/4 with a 3B, 2 RBI, and 2 R and LF Matt Feinstein hit his 4th home run of the year, to go along with 3 RBI.
The Chukars now begin a six-game road trip against the Rocky Mountain Vibes starting on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM for game 1 on June 23rd and can be heard on KSPZ 980 AM/98.7 FM and online at 980thezone.com.
· The Tuesday off-day saw a flurry of changes for the Idaho Falls roster. INF Jordan Garr and C Bronson Butcher, two members of the Opening Night roster were released by the club. Both Garr and Butcher saw significant time with the Chukars in the first month but will now be subject to league waivers and can be claimed by another Pioneer League team. C Hunter Hisky was activated from the Ineligible List after sustaining a knee injury in the Chukars second homestand. Additionally, filling the last open roster spot is INF Tyler Kelly, who was acquired in a trade from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association for a player to be named later.
· The Chukars were able to skyrocket up the standings in the last week, jumping up 4 games in the standings in four days. They now are only 2.0 games back of division-leading Missoula with 21 games left in the first half. The “strength of schedule” in the next three weeks goes to the Chukars advantage. Missoula will have to face the Southern Division leaders Ogden 12 more times in the first half whereas Idaho Falls will play the Rocky Mountain Vibes 12 more times, who are last in the South.