Chukars bats finally wake up

Idaho Falls' Luis Valenzuela makes the catch and gets the out as Grand Junction's Dom Nunez tries to make it to second base during Thursday night's game at Melaleuca Field.

The last thing a struggling offense wants to do is waste chances when it’s finally showing signs of life.

Unfortunately for Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez, that’s exactly what the Chukars did over the first three innings against the Grand Junction Rockies on Thursday night at Melaleuca Field. Idaho Falls was coming off a two-game sweep at Orem when the Chukars managed just one run and one extra base hit.

Idaho Falls scored single runs in the second and third innings Thursday but could have had much more. The Chukars eventually broke through for a 6-2 win in front of 1,904 fans to improve to 4-7 for the season.

Ramirez said the first three innings, when the Chukars had 10 hitters reach base but scored only two runs, were frustrating for a team searching for runs.

“I was worried about it a little bit the first half of the game,” Ramirez said. “But we picked it up, made adjustments and that’s what it’s all about, making adjustments.”

Idaho Falls, which entered Thursday’s game hitting .257 as a team, finally took advantage of its chances in the fourth, scoring three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. Jecksson Flores plated the first run when he ripped a ball that scooted past right fielder Wilson Soriano to score Kyle Pollock. Ryan O’Hearn was hit by a pitch with two outs, then Robert Pehl smacked a two-run single to left to make it 5-1.

Ramirez said the early part of the season can be tough on newcomers to professional baseball — guys who are used to playing every day are suddenly in and out of the lineup.

“Now you’re sharing time with a guy who’s equal or better than you are,” Ramirez said. “Hopefully, they make adjustments and figure it out, and that’s really the only thing they can do.”

One guy who is figuring it out early in the season is Idaho Falls right-hander Torey Deshazier. The 6-foot, 160-pounder from Pine Bluff, Ark., had his second straight good outing for the Chukars. Deshazier entered in the fifth with I.F. leading 5-1, and allowed just one earned run on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The performance lowered his ERA to 0.84, and gave him 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.

“That’s what we ask from every pitcher — throw strikes,” Ramirez said. “It’s a hitters’ league, I know that. But don’t worry about it. When you throw strikes, good things happen.”

Deshazier was his best over the final two innings, retiring all six batters, three of them by strikeout.

“He was attacking hitters,” Ramirez said.

The Rockies and Chukars play the second game of the four-game series tonight at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls then heads to Ogden on Monday to start a three-game series.

CHUKAR CHATTER: Second-year Chukar Alexis Rivera, who had struggled early this season, had a big night, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and adding a diving catch in right field in the third inning. Rivera upped his season average to .216 … Robert Pehl continued his hot start, going 1 for 4 while also drawing a walk. The University of Washington product who was drafted in the 11th round of this year’s draft, is hitting .357 this season.

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