Unlike his flame throwing teammates Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo, Lookouts starter Reiver Sanmartin makes due with a fastball that tops out around 90 MPH. Instead of overwhelming batters with force, Sanmartin uses movement and breaking balls to keep hitters off-balance. The Lookouts took the Sunday series finale 7-1 over the Rocket City Trash Pandas, and Sanmartin was almost flawless in five innings of one-hit work.
It didn’t take long for the 25 year-old lefthander to find his own rhythm, generating weak contact in a way that made quick work of most hitters. When a Trash Panda uncorked a powerful swing tailor-made for a fastball, Sanmartin would instead have him swinging through air after unleashing a dramatic curveball.
If a batter did manage to get the barrel on the ball, it usually went right to one of the Lookouts’ fielders for an easy out.
Top-100 prospect Jose Garcia displayed a keen eye and walked in his first at-bat against Cooper Criswell in the bottom of the first inning, and then aggressively took second after Narciso Crook grounded to third. Smallball continued to pay dividends after Wilson Garcia’s groundball to Panda first baseman David MacKinnon was mishandled. Jose Garcia rolled home and gave the Lookouts a run without ever having the ball leave the infield.
Sanmartin continued to deal in the second inning, retiring the side in style. He struck out Michael Cruz swinging with a changeup on the lower outside corner, and then used another 76 MPH banger to get designated hitter Ibandel Isabel out on strikes looking. Catcher Mark Kolozvary gave him even more run support by lacing a double down the third base line and into the corner, which gave centerfielder Lorenzo Cedrola the time he needed to score from first.
After leadoff hitter Alejo Lopez came back up for a second time, he slapped an opposite field hit to left and gave Chattanooga runners on the corners. Jose Garcia wore out the leftfield grass with another double, bringing in Kolozvary and making the game a 3-0 one in the bottom of the second. However, Lopez tried to do a little too much, and he was eventually trapped in a rundown between home and third.
Narcisco Crook made everyone immediately forget about that display of bad baserunning by blasting a ball 421 feet to left field and making the score 5-0. He knew it was gone immediately after it left his bat, and Crook celebrated by flipping his lumber like a lightweight baton before jogging around the bases.
TJ Hopkins’ was the fortunate recipient of more terrible fielding by MacKinnon, who couldn’t handle the throw after a routine grounder. An alert Wilson Garcia (who had doubled right before this) went around third for Chattanooga’s sixth run. Lookout first baseman Yoel Yanqui changed things up by singling into rightfield for a change and advanced Wilson Garcia to the corner. Criswell finally got out of the nightmare inning by getting third baseman Byrd Tenerowicz out.
Sanmartin continued to roll through Trash Panda hitters in the top of the third, needing only five pitches to get two groundouts and one flyout by MacKinnon. Criswell must have taken pointers from Sanmartin, since he finally got through the side in the bottom of the inning, getting Alejo Lopez to ground out to end the inning. Sanmartin kept the no-hitter going through the fourth with a variety of offspeed stuff that the Rocket City batters couldn’t quite figure out.
Sanmartin finally surrendered a hit to Anthony Mulrine with two outs in the fourth inning. It was a sharp drive to leftfield, and could have signaled the beginning of a Trash Panda rally. Instead, Sanmartin used a slow pitch to get Izzy Wilson to spike a ball to Lopez, who tossed the third out to Yanqui for the final out of the fourth inning.
Nathan Bates took the ball from Criswell after four innings of work, and presented the Lookouts with a very different kind of hurler. While he did have an offspeed pitch that got groundouts, he also had a more lively arm. While Criswell stayed in the high-80s, Bates pumped in a fastball that placed around 93 MPH. He worked a quick bottom of the fifth and ran back to the dugout only a few minutes after stepping onto the field.
With the no-hitter out of the picture, the Lookouts pulled Sanmartin after five solid innings of one-hit ball for righthander Wes Robertson, who got to face the top of the Trash Panda’s formidable order. Michael Stefanic laced a shot into leftfield for a single, and Robertson suddenly had to contend with the dangerous Orlando Martinez with a runner on base. Martinez gave the ball a good ride, but it landed short of the warning track and into the waiting glove of left fielder T.J Hopkins. A groundball to Jose Garcia and an ensuing force-out at second ended the brief Panda threat.
The hard throwing righthander Miguel Figueroa came in to pitch the seventh, with manager Ricky Gutierrez now ready to cycle through his bullpen an inning at a time. Rocket City’s Cruz drew some gasps from the crowd when his lineout to Yanqui was accompanied by a completely-shattered bat. Figueroa struck out a swinging Isabel to give Gutierrez a reason to let him throw the eighth as well.
Rocket City’s Oliver Ortega came into the game with a 36.0 ERA, and the Lookouts fans were reminded why when he got smoked by Crook for a centerfield double. Wilson Garcia could not drive him home, but did advance the outfielder to third with a well-placed groundball to the right. Ortega’s wild pitch was all Crook needed to score Chattanooga’s seventh run a few seconds after that.
The manager must have liked what he saw from Figueroa in the seventh, because out came a familiar reliever to handle the eighth inning. Mulrine grounded into a 6-3 putout to start the frame, but then Izzy Wilson jacked a 399 foot bomb into right-center field over the Blue Cross sign when Figueroa let one of his pitches hang just a little to long in the zone.
That was all the Trash Pandas could get before they boarded the team bus for the trip back to Huntsville. With gloomy clouds overhead, Ryan Olson closed out the visitors in the ninth and secured Chattanooga’s fourth win. The Lookouts will now prepare for two weeks away from the Scenic City, and are scheduled to play series against Montgomery and the Mississippi Braves, before returning on the 25th to face the Tennessee Smokies.
ROCKET CITY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 -- 1 05 2
CHATTANOOGA 1 5 0 0 0 0 1 0 X -- 7 11 0
Pitchers: Criswell, Bates (5), Ortega (7), Diaz (8) and Mulrine; Sanmartin, Robertson (6), Figueroa (7), Olson (9), and Kolozvary
WP: Reiver Sanmartin (1-0)
LP: Cooper Criswell (0-1)
SV: Ryan Olson (1)
For the full box score you can click here.
You can contact the author at Joseph.A.Dycus@gmail.com or on twitter at @joseph_dycus .