Last Friday, Marten Gasparini went 0 for 2 with two errors in the Burlington Royals’ season finale.
Fortunately for Gasparini, this wasn’t his last game.
The 17-year-old Italy native traveled from North Carolina to Idaho Falls and played in the Chukars’ final five games. He saved his best for last, going 3 for 3 with a three-run home run in Idaho Falls’ 8-3, season-ending win over the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field on Thursday night. The game was a satisfying end to a mediocre season for both Gasparini and the Chukars (38-38).
“I’ll go into (Fall Instructional League) with a much better mindset,” Gasparini said Thursday.
Gasparini sparked the Chukars’ first rally with a one-out single in the first inning, and he moved to third on Samir Duenez’s single the following at-bat. On a 1-1 count with two outs, Duenez took off for second. Odgen’s catcher threw to second in attempt to catch Duenez stealing. Meanwhile, Gasparini sprinted toward home. The throw took one hop in front of the second baseman, who bobbled the ball, allowing Duenez to notch the steal and Gasparini to score.
The Raptors struck back in the third. With two outs and a runner on first, Cody Bellinger blasted a triple into the left center field gap. Gasparini handled the relay but his throw to third was off line and bounced into Odgen’s dugout. The error allowed Bellinger to score, giving Odgen a 2-1 lead.
Idaho Falls answered in the bottom half of the inning, with Gasparini leading the charge again. He hit a two-out single and scored the next at-bat on a double down the left field line by Duenez.
Idaho Falls’ Jecksson Flores hit a one-out single the next inning and moved over to third on a single by Cesar Gonzalez. Desmond Henry walked to load the bases and Brandon Downes drove in Flores with a sacrifice fly to deep right.
Next up was Gasparini, who crushed a three-run home run to right, putting the Chukars up 6-2 and essentially sealing the victory.
“He’s still young, still learning, but it’s exciting to watch him play,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said of Gasparini.
Chukars first baseman and Pioneer League MVP Ryan O’Hearn lauded Gasparini’s defense, in addition to his offensive firepower.
“I sure wasn’t that good when I was 17,” O’Hearn said.
Gasparini battled injuries throughout his season with the Royals, causing him to miss several games (he had 65 at-bats) and likely hurting his production (he hit .191).
Gasparini’s first game with the Chukars came Aug. 31, the day Idaho Falls was eliminated from the playoffs. While he made only 15 plate appearances for Idaho Falls, he’s grateful for the opportunity he received. His huge performance Thursday night was just gravy.
“That what’s great about this sport,” Gasparini said. “It really makes me feel great about what I’m doing in this moment of my life.”