Independence Day is still a few weeks away, but the Chattanooga Lookouts decided to celebrate a little early.
Facing the Southern League’s South Division-leading Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the second game of the six-game series at AT&T Field Wednesday night, the Lookouts enjoyed season highs in hits (20) and runs scored (16) as they snapped a two-game losing streak with a 16-1 romp.
Chattanooga improves to 18-13 with the win while Pensacola is now 19-13.
The Blue Wahoos took an early lead following a solo homer to right by J.J. Bleday in the first, but the Lookouts retaliated with three runs of their own, highlighted by a two-run homer by Yoel Yanqui that followed a run-scoring single by Jose Barrero for a 3-1 advantage following the opening frame.
It appeared those might be the only runs scored on an evening when 1,486 faithful fans braved the threat of heavy rain, but the home team had other ideas. There was a brief shower about 6:30, but the field was covered and nothing got wet. It was gone in about 15 minutes as a perfect night for baseball followed.
Chattanooga threatened in the sixth when Barrero and Yanqui led off with back-to-back singles, signaling the end of the evening for Pensacola starter Jeff Lindgren.
Reliever Zack Leban retired the side without any further damage, but he wasn’t so lucky in the seventh.
An error by the Pensacola first baseman was followed by consecutive singles by Leo Rivas, Braxton Lee, Mark Kolozsvary, Barrero and Yanqui. Five runs scored before the second out could be recorded as eight Lookouts came to bat and broke open that semi-close game for an 8-1 lead after seven.
Josh Roberson, who had put out the fire in the seventh by getting the final two outs, but the eighth was a nightmare for the slender righty as seven straight Lookouts reached before he was replaced.
Back-to-back two-run doubles by Kolozsvary and Barrero totally blew it open and T.J. Hopkins later added a two-run double of his own as Chattanooga sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored eight more runs before the offensive explosion finally ended.
Nine of 10 Lookout hitters had at least one hit with Barrero leading the way with four. The big 6-2 shortstop also scored three times and drove in four runs.
Yanqui was next with three hits, three runs and three RBIs while Rivas also had three hits and scored twice.
The Blue Wahoos finished the game with six hits, including two in the first inning and two more in the ninth.
Demetrius Sims singled to lead off the ninth and scored ahead of Nick Lovullo’s first home run of the season that closed the final gap to 16-3.
Nick Fortes was the only Pensacola player with two hits.
Southpaw Connor Curlis started for Chattanooga and allowed one run on three hits in four innings. He was replaced by Alexis Diaz after the first two Pensacola hitters reached in the fifth on back-to-back walks, who earned the win with two scoreless innings.
Lindgren took the loss after allowing those first three runs on eight hits. He also had three strikeouts and no walks.
These same two teams will play again on Thursday night with the first pitch set for 7:15, weather permitting.
PENSACOLA 100 000 002 – 3 6 1
CHATTANOOGA 300 000 58x – 16 20 0
Lindgren, Leban (6), Roberson (7), Stevens (8) and Nunez; Curlis, Diaz (5), Pinto (7), Moreta (8), Howard (9) and Kolozsvary.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)