The Lookouts are three games into their season and the celebration of baseball being back at AT&T Field continues. While fireworks weren’t scheduled Chattanooga and the visiting Trash Pandas managed to give the fans in attendance for Thursday night’s doubleheader a bit of snap, crackle and pop with a bit of fizzle for both teams that ended in a split and the first-ever win in the Trash Pandas young franchise history.
The Lookouts took the first game by a 6-3 margin with Rocket City winning the nightcap, 10-7.
Rocket City finally ignited the rocket in the second game and took off like the Saturn-5B that shot our spacemen to the moon back in 1969. When all was said and done The Trash Pandas had themselves a seven-run sixth inning and a three-run lead.
The second game of the twin bill went much like the first with the Lookouts’ bats staying on top of the Rocket City pitchers early, banging out seven hits and taking a 7-0 lead into the fifth inning. The Trash Pandas bats finally came alive that inning, allowing them to plate three runs.
Then, in the sixth, Michael Cruz drove a homerun over the right field wall that scored three more runs for Rocket City. Two batters hit by pitch caused Chattanooga manager Ricky Gutierrez to go to his fourth pitcher of the game and second of the inning.
Gutierrez would later get his first ejection of the season, arguing a call with the first base umpire.
Julio Pinto entered the game with the runners on second and third belonging to previous pitcher Wes Robertson and one out. A ground ball infield hit to third baseman Byrd Tenerowicz loaded the bases. Pinto then walked the next batter, forcing the tying run home, leaving the bases loaded for a triple by Ray-Patrick Didder.
Things were much better for Chattanooga in the first game, Lookouts starter Nick Lodolo, baseball’s No. 50 0verall Top Prospect, continued Chattanooga’s mastery over the Rocket City batters from Hunter Greene’s outstanding performance in the season opener Wednesday evening. Lodolo, who picked up win number one, went five innings allowing two hits, no runs and retiring 10 batters on strikes. His fast ball stayed in the low 90s while his breaking balls were in top form.
Lodolo faced only 17 batters and 47 of his 67 pitches were for strikes. While he did not have the velocity of Greene, he mixed his pitches well and kept the opposing batters guessing.
The two hits he allowed were both in the first inning as he sought to settle in on the mound. Placed around those two singles was a pair of strikeouts before enticing the number five hitter in the Trash Pandas’ lineup to end that first inning on a fielder’s choice ground ball to shortstop Jose Garcia.
The rest of the way was smooth going for the Reds’ top prospect.
Rocket City’s starter Kyle Tyler went three and two thirds innings before giving way to Hansel Rodriguez. Tyler gave up three runs on six hits, including a pair of third inning dingers to Garcia and Yoel Yanqui. Both cleared the right field wall with Garcia’s, a two run shot, measured at 350 feet and Yanqui’s solo blast was 373 feet.
Chattanooga relief pitcher John Ghyzel came on in the top of the sixth and gave up a 406 foot shot over the centerfield fence on his first pitch to leadoff batter Matt Jones to give Rocket City its first run. Following that bit of excitement, Ghyzel settled down and produced two strikeouts and a fly out to end the inning.
Chattanooga added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth when Jay Schuyler was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a base on balls to centerfielder Lorenzo Cedrola. Catcher Chuckie Robinson followed with an RBI single to left center field, scoring Schuyler and moving Cedrola to third.
Alejo Lopez followed with a shallow fly into the outfield that was dropped by the Trash Panda’s centerfielder who then flipped the ball to his second baseman for a force out and a fielder’s choice for Lopez. Or so thought the gentleman in section 109, seat 22. Oh, and Cedrola scored on the play.
It turns out that after a confab between the umpiring crew that call was erased and Robinson who was originally forced at second was deemed to have been passed on the base path by Lopez, who was called out. Robinson was awarded second base and later scored on Garcia’s second hit of the night.
As if that wasn’t enough fireworks for the average fan, the Trash Pandas (and no matter how many times I type that, it still makes me chuckle) managed to create a bit of pop themselves in the top of the seventh facing new Chattanooga pitcher Ryan Olson. Olson struck out leadoff hitter Mitch Nay before Rocket City shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder reached on an error by Garcia at short.
Ibandel Isabel followed with a walk and Izzy Wilson drove Didder home with single into left. Jose Cruz, just called up right before Wednesday’s opening pitch, lined a sharp single into left, where Lookouts left fielder Schuyler made a heroic diving grab going to his right to stop what would’ve been an extra base hit.
That left it up to Chattanooga’s Alexis Diaz to take the mound with two outs and a Trash Panda on every base. With Michael Stefanic at the plate and fans on the edge of their seats Diaz took it to a full count with a fast ball that was clocking on the radar gun at 94 miles per hour before he left the Rocket City first baseman looking at a called third strike to end the game.
Chattanooga goes to 2-1 on the season, while the Trash Pandas are now 1-2
The fourth game of the series is set for Friday night at 7:15 p.m. Fans in attendance will be treated to a fireworks show after the game.
ROCKET CITY 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 -- 3 5 1
CHATTANOOGA 0 0 3 0 0 3 x -- 6 9 1
Tyler, Rodriguez (4) and Jones; Lodolo, Ghyzel (6), Olson (7), Diaz (7) and Robinson.
WP: Lodolo (1-0)
SV: Diaz (1)
LP: Tyler (0-1)
For the box score, click here.
ROCKET CITY 0 0 0 0 3 7 0 – 10 7 2
CHATTANOOGA 0 4 1 2 0 0 0 – 7 8 2
Naughton, Lovegrove (5), Higgins (6) and Cruz; Byrne, Fiqueroa (4), Robertson (6), Pinto (6) and Kolozsvary.
WP: Lovegrove (1-0)
SV: Higgins (1)
LP: Robertson (0-1)
BS: Pinto (1)
For box score click here.
(Email Dennis Norwood at email@example.com)