The odds are really high and the chances are next to impossible, but the Chattanooga Lookouts are still in the playoff picture for the Double-A South baseball season.
They hurt their own chances by losing to the Mississippi Braves in Tuesday night’s series opener, but they stayed alive with an improbable comeback on Wednesday as the Lookouts improved to 57-53 with the come-from-behind 6-5 victory.
There are too many "what ifs" to mention in this space, but the bottom line is that the Lookouts need to keep winning and probably need help from at least one or two other teams to experience post-season play.
The Braves have already clinched one playoff spot with the best record in the league, which is now 66-43 following Wednesday’s defeat at AT&T Field.
Ricky Salinas was the starter for Chattanooga and has pitched really well in recent weeks. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, all in the first inning, but didn’t get the decision after going five innings.
An RBI-single by Lorenzo Cedrola and a wild pitch allowed the Lookouts to knot the score with two runs in the sixth, but it didn’t stay tied for long as the Braves scored three runs in the seventh for a 5-2 lead at that point.
Matt Lloyd, who drove in the third run with a single in the seventh to get Chattanooga within two at 5-3, drove in the game-winning runs with two outs in the eighth.
What a wild and crazy comeback it was.
Southpaw Hayden Deal had relieved Mississippi starter Alan Rangel in the seventh and allowed the one run in that inning. He wasn’t so lucky in the eighth.
Cedrola got his third single to lead off and went to second when Wilson Garcia walked, signaling the end for Deal.
Byrd Tenerowicz beat out a bouncer to third off of Troy Bacon for an infield hit that loaded the bases before Bacon struck out the next two and appeared to be escaping this jam without any further damage.
Brian Rey got an RBI with a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-4, setting the stage for Lloyd’s last-minute heroics.
Hitting eighth in the Chattanooga batting order with a not-so-inspiring .205 average, the slender first baseman seized his opportunity and went home the hero after ripping a 3-2 pitch past Greyson Jenista at first base as pinch-runner Quincy McAfee scored the tying run and Tenerowicz followed with what turned out to be the winning run.
Chuckie Robinson then struck out to end the inning, but the damage had been done and all of those 1,643 fans had lots of reasons to stand and cheer.
Julio Pinto, Chattanooga's fourth pitcher, earned the win and improved to 2-1 after pitching one and a third inning and allowing no runs on one hit. Daniel Duarte, the fifth pitcher for the Lookouts, then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fifth save of the season.
Bacon was the loser after allowing the game-winning run on one hit.
Cedrola and Lloyd both had three hits for the Lookouts while Tenerowicz ended the game with two.
Right fielder Trey Harris was the only Brave with more than one hit and he had two, including a double in the first and a two-run single in the seventh. He got hit by a pitch in the third and walked in the sixth, but he couldn’t reach base for the fifth straight time after lining to Tenerowicz at third to end the game.
The series will continue on Thursday night with the first pitch set for 7:15. Friday and Saturday games are at the same time with Sunday’s final regular-season game set for a 2:15 start. Should the Lookouts make the playoffs, they would host the first two games in the Best of 5 series, starting on Tuesday.
MISSISSIPPI 200 000 300 – 5 6 0
CHATTANOOGA 000 002 13x – 6 8 0
Rangel, Deal (7), Bacon (8) and Langeliers; Salinas, Perez (6), Diaz (7), Pinto (7), Duarte (9) and Robinson.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)