The Chattanooga Lookouts came into Friday night’s game with the Birmingham Barons on a three-game losing streak, dropping those games by not-so-close scores of 3-0, 17-9 and 10-5.
A fourth straight defeat was much closer. For all practical purposes, the Lookouts should have won before 4,615 fans, but unfortunately, close doesn’t count in AA baseball.
The Barons took over first place in the Double-A South’s Northern Division with Friday’s 7-6 win, the winning runs scoring in the eighth inning on a pair of bases-loaded walks. Birmingham is now 38-31 while the Lookouts are now 36-31.
Southpaw Nick Lodolo, one of the bright spots for the Lookouts this summer, got the start and went four innings, but didn’t not get the decision after allowing three runs on five hits while striking out nine.
The Barons got a two-run homer from first baseman Joe DeCarlo with two outs in the first inning for an early 2-0 lead.
The Lookouts countered with single runs in the first and third innings to tie the game and took the lead at 5-3 with three runs in the fourth.
Birmingham got another home run from DeCarlo in the sixth when the Barons knotted the score at 5-5, but it was those two walks with the sacks full in the eighth that ultimately was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Eddy Demurias, the third pitcher for Chattanooga, had a 1-2-3 seventh, but the eighth inning was another story.
Xavier Fernandez led off with a walk before DeCarlo singled. Yolbert Sanchez then walked to load the bases with nobody out, signaling the end for Demurias.
Alexis Diaz then came on to pitch for the Lookouts and retired the first two hitters he faced before a walk to Ian Dawkins plated Fernandez with the go-ahead run. Then with a 3-2 count, Joel Booker walked to drive in DeCarlo and that was the winning run of the game.
Trailing by two entering the bottom of the ninth, the Lookouts made it interesting, but couldn’t get two clutch hits in a row.
With the top of the order batting to start the inning, Brian Rey singled to get the rally started. T.J. Hopkins then got hit by a pitch. Lorenzo Cedrola then popped to first for the first out before Drew Mount struck out swinging.
Wilson Garcia then lined a single to right the score Rey, putting the potential tying run at third, but the threat ended when Byrd Tennerowicz struck out swinging to end the game.
DeCarlo was the offensive leader for the Barons as he finished the evening with three hits, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Tyler Neslony had another good game for Birmingham as he too finished with three hits and two RBIs.
Fernandez had two hits and scored twice as the Barons finished with 10 hits.
Rey, Cedrola and Mount all had two hits for Chattanooga as the Lookouts also had 10 for the game.
Cedrola scored twice and drove in two with a triple in the fourth that gave Chattanooga its only lead of the game.
Anderson Severino, the third Birmingham pitcher, earned the win with two perfect innings where he allowed no runs on no hits while striking out three.
Demurias took the loss after allowing two hits in his one-plus inning of work.
Tenerowicz is quickly becoming a fan favorite as his defense at third has continued to get better and his batting average is also slowly climbing. He got the biggest cheer on Friday when he made the defensive play of the game in the ninth.
Carlos Perez was leading off and hit a towering foul ball toward the Chattanooga dugout. Tennerowicz raced to the spot and made the one-handed grab as he hit the railing and flipped over into the dugout, standing up with a smile on his face and showing the crowd and the umpires that he still had the ball safely in his glove.
This six-game series continues on Saturday night with the first pitch set for 7:15. Hard-throwing Graham Ashcraft, another highly-touted pitching prospect for Chattanooga, is scheduled to start for the home team.
BIRMINGHAM 200 102 020 – 7 10 3
CHATTANOOGA 101 300 001 – 6 10 1
Parke, Perez (5), Severino (7), Paulino (9) and Fernandez; Lodolo, Lopez (5), Demurias (7), Diaz (8) and Schuyler.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)