Printed on: August 12, 2012

Chukars inch closer to Owlz

By Marlowe Hereford

After losing the lead once, the Idaho Falls Chukars took it

back with a vengeance and held off a late rally en route to a 6-4 win over the Orem Owlz before 2,951 fans Saturday at Melaleuca Field to win the three-game series.

The win puts the Chukars (8-6 second half) one game behind the Pioneer League South Division leading Owlz (9-5 second half).

It was also the first win for Chukars starting pitcher Alec Mills, who improved his record to 1-3.

The 20-year-old righthander engaged in a pitching duel with Orem starting pitcher Jairo Diaz early and went on to strike out five without a walk in six innings.

"I was spotting the fastball well," Mills said. "The changeup was definitely my best. I got a lot of people out with that. It was just a mix of a little bit of everything (tonight)."

Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said Mills created momentum and was aggressive in his first win.

"Everything started with Mills," Ramirez said. "He did a good job attacking the strike zone. That's what we ask of all of our guys."

The Chukars bats delivered for the second consecutive night as well. Three of the Chukars' six RBIs came with two outs. Nick DelGuidice and Diego Goris scored to put Idaho Falls ahead 2-0 in the third inning before Orem responded in the top of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead.. Similar to Friday's game, the Chukars responded in the next frame. DelGuidice cranked a double to center field to score Parker Morin and Goris scored DelGuidice with a double to almost the same spot to give Idaho Falls a 5-3 lead with two outs. The Owlz looked to threaten in the top of the ninth when Andrew Ray scored off a Sherman Johnson single, but Idaho Falls left fielder Nick Cuckovich caught a fly ball to end the Orem rally and secure the win.

Two nights of strong hitting against the South Division leaders is a testament to how far the Chukars have come.

"We need to have a strong second half to make a push for the playoffs," Mills said. "We're meshing when we need to. It's definitely a big step for us."

The Chukars have today off before beginning a seven-game road trip. Their first stop is Monday at Billings, which leads the North Division standings.

Loose feathers: Idaho Falls Chukars right-handed pitcher Andrew Durden retired Saturday. The 21-year-old Florida native was in his second season with the Royals organization and had gone 1-0 for the Chukars with a 21.94 ERA in 5.1 innings pitched. Durden spent last year and part of this year with the AZL Royals. He was selected in the 38th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Nova Southeastern University.

Up next

Chukars at Mustangs, 7:05 Monday / 980 AM