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Valdez grand slam caps wild first 4 innings, but Chukars run away from Raptors 18-11

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Jun 17, 2022

Eugene Morgan, Ogden Raptors

Ogden Raptors infielder Jesus Valdez celebrates hitting a grand slam against the Idaho Falls Chukars on Friday, June 17, 2022, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.

OGDEN — The first four innings were a game of their own at Lindquist Field, but the Idaho Falls Chukars made the final five innings not much of a game on the way to an 18-11 victory Friday night.

Tom Walker got the start for Ogden and struck out a whopping five batters through two innings, while also giving up back-to-back solo homers in the first inning to Hunter Hisky and Calvin Estrada to make it 2-0 for the visitors.

But Idaho Falls figured out Walker from there. Matt Feinstein doubled in a run and Hisky doubled in two as part of a six-run third to put the Chukars up 8-0.

Raptors center fielder Reese Alexiades helped Ogden start chipping back in the bottom of the third with a three-run homer blasted to straightaway center. Like Estrada, Alexiades lifted it high into the strong wind coming from the south and it carried it well over the fence onto 23rd Street for an 8-3 margin.

Remarkably, the Raptors got all the way back in the fourth. Dakota Conners grounded out to score a run and Josh Broughton, back in the starting lineup, legged out an infield single to score another, making it 8-5.

On either side of a pitching change, Freddy Achecar and Alexiades patiently drew walks to load the bases for infielder Jesus Valdez. Valdez smoked the first pitch he saw on a rope over the left-field wall for a grand slam and a 9-8 Ogden lead.

The lead was short-lived against the team with the best record in the Pioneer League. Jorge Gonzalez took the mound in the top of the fifth and didn’t record an out, giving up a two-run homer to Dusty Stroup and an RBI double to Sam Troyer. Troyer later scored, charged against Gonzalez, and Idaho Falls led 12-9.

The Chukars kept going in the sixth, pushing across five more against Chase Stratton and Jack Cunningham using three singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch to go up 17-9.

Valdez and catcher Sonny Ulliana singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and later scored on a Conners single to make it 17-11.

Idaho Falls catcher Brady West singled and scored on a groundout in the ninth for the final score.

Hisky hit 3 for 6 with four RBIs for the Chukars. Stroup drove in three, and Andrew Don hit 4 for 6 with two RBIs and three runs.

Conners hit 3 for 5 with three RBIs. Alexiades had his homer to drive in three and Valdez his slam for four RBIs. Ulliana hit 4 for 5 but scored just once.

Chris Campbell pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Walker, temporarily allowing the Raptors to rally for the short-lived lead.

The two teams finish the series at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

FRIDAY SCORES

Idaho Falls 18, Ogden 11

Northern Colorado 5, Grand Junction 4 (via Knockout)

Rocky Mountain 6, Boise 2

Great Falls 14, Billings 8

Glacier 9, Missoula 4

PIONEER LEAGUE STANDINGS

NORTH DIVISION

Idaho Falls 16-5

Great Falls 15-7

Missoula 13-8

Billings 9-9

Glacier 8-12

SOUTH DIVISION

Ogden 11-9

Grand Junction 10-10

Northern Colorado 9-11

Boise 7-14

Rocky Mountain 4-17

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