A full house at Melaleuca Field got to see some history on Thursday night as the Idaho Falls American Legion AA Bandits defeated the Chukars in the teams’ annual fundraiser game.
The ending was a bit anticlimactic as the winning run scored on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning, giving the Bandits a 5-4 victory. It was the first time in eight meetings that the Bandits won the matchup, but the night proved to be more than just the final result.
“This is just a great opportunity to get on a field with professional baseball players and see how they go about their business and how they prepare,” Bandits coach Ryan Alexander said. “It’s good for our guys to see how professionals prepare for the game.”
Attendance was announced at 2,869 for the game, which also serves as a fundraiser for the American Legion team.
The Bandits led 3-0 by the third inning, but the Chukars rallied to tie it at 4-4 in the sixth, setting up the drama in the seventh.
“This is my fourth year doing it and every year you look forward to it,” the Bandits’ Andrew Gregersen said of the annual matchup. “There’s no other opportunity like that … you don’t see an American Legion team playing a minor league team and I think it’s a good experience for everyone.”
As for getting a win against the local minor league team, Gregersen was happy.
“It was kind of a cheap win, but we’ll take it I guess,” he said.
One Bandit player who didn’t play in the game was Randon Hostert. The Bonneville grad was recently selected in the 15th round of the MLB draft by the Texas Rangers and is still weighing his options of whether to sign and play professionally or to play college ball. Alexander said Hostert is “on hold” until he makes his decision.
To even the matchup, Bandit pitchers pitched to the Bandit lineup and Chukars pitchers threw to their teammates. That was changed in the third and sixth innings as Bandit hitters got to face Chukars pitching.
The Chukars open their season today at Billings, Mont.,and will play their first home game on Monday against Missoula at 7:15 p.m. The night will conclude with fireworks.
Allan Steele is Sports Editor of the Post Register. Reach him at 208 542-6772 and follow on Twitter at asteele12000