IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Tuesday night, the Idaho Falls Chukars return to Melaleuca Field with a clean slate, as the 2nd half of the Pioneer League season begins.
Idaho Falls went 27-21 and finished 3rd in the North Division in the first half, and the Chukars carry momentum into the 2nd half after taking three in a row and five of their last seven games.
On the first half, Chukars Manager Billy Gardner Jr. says it went well for his team, but there's still a lot to improve upon.
"We got off to a good start," Gardner Jr. said. "We ran into some injuries. The injury bug bit us pretty good on the pitching side, but I think we recovered pretty well. I like the people we brought in. We've played some good teams in Missoula and Ogden and Great Falls. We've competed with those teams. But we're still not where we need to be to, at the end of the day, stay with them in this half."
Gardner Jr. also said pitching and defense will be key to making a return to the Pioneer League playoffs.
"Starting pitching is going to set the tone," Gardner Jr. said. "That's the bottom line. We have to pitch better at the front of the game. And I like where our bullpen stands right now. We have some guys down there who can, if we get deep in the game with the lead, we have people down there who can hold them.
"We need to clean some things up on the defensive side. When you're not pitching well and you're making mistakes behind them and giving them four or five, sometimes six outs, it's going to lead to a crooked number. We can't sustain that. So we've got to pitch better, we've got to catch the ball better and have a chance to win."
The Chukars 2nd half schedule begins Tuesday night with the first of a three-game series at home against the Glacier Range Riders. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.