Mississippi's CJ Alexander, left, slides into home avoiding the tag attempt of the Lookouts' Chuckie Robinson.
photo by Joseph Dycus
Media spoke to Michael Harris on Thursday, and many fans went to the ballgame for the post-matchup fireworks. But for those interested in baseball, CJ Alexander’s personal home run derby was the reason some fans will remember Friday night. He slammed two home runs and smacked five RBIs as the Mississippi Braves belted the Lookouts 9-2.
On the other side, the Lookouts seemed tentative at the plate.
“Our approach at the plate is a little bit inconsistent,” Lookout manager Jose Moreno said. “We need to create opportunities and momentum and put pressure on the defense.”
To say Freddy Tarnok shut down the Lookouts offense for the first three innings would be an understatement. His mix of sliders, breaking balls, and deceptive fastballs with movement kept the Lookouts guessing, and he wasn’t seriously threatened until the bottom of the fourth. Chattanooga strung together a few hits to put runners on the bases, but Tarnok induced a grounder with two outs to get out of the jam. Tarnok ended up with his first win of the season.
He was pitching with little pressure, because the Braves gave him some serious run support at the expense of Lookouts starter Eduardo Salazar. CJ Alexander got the scoring started with a single to right field. In came Luke Waddell while Hendrick Clementina rolled onto second.
A few minutes later, Riley Delgado shot a ball into right field, Clementina ran around to home, and then CJ Alexander followed right behind him. Alexander slid into home and narrowly avoided getting hit by the relay throw. Chuckie Robinson’s tag was milliseconds too late, and the Braves had themselves a 3-0 lead before the Sun had totally set.
“Eduardo fell behind the count , and he threw different pitches to get back on track,” coach Moreno said. “He lost his rhythm in the third and fourth inning.”
Eduardo’s bad day on the mound continued in the top of the fifth, when he walked Waddell and then gave up a double to Drew Lugbauer. This moved runners to second and third and got Jose Moreno to the pitcher’s mound. Out went Salazar and in came Vin Timpanelli.
Timpanelli got Clementina out on a swinging strikeout, and looked to be in-control against Alexander for the first few pitches. But after eight pitches, Alexander got the better of Timpanelli and launched a ball to the moon for a three-run homer. Then Andrew Moritz walked on four pitches, which brought about yet another mound visit as the lead sat at 6-0 Braves.
In the bottom of the inning, Rivas walked and Mike Siani had a slow roller get him on base. With two outs, the Lookouts once more had life as Matt McLain came up to bat with his eight homers. A wild pitch moved runners to third and second. All of these great circumstances were wasted when McLain grounded out to the third baseman for out number three.
Miguel Medrano, a righthander from the Dominican Republic, went the final three innings and surrendered another three runs on a Michael Harris sacrifice fly (Harris also extended his on-base streak to 31 games) and another CJ Alexander home run to center. It was an M-Braves’ first six-RBI night since 2013.
The only time the fans could cheer on Fireworks Night was when Mike Siani unloaded on a pitch and dumped it over the right field wall for a two-run home run. Fans who make the trip out to the next game will be treated to Andrew Abbott’s debut start with the Lookouts. Abbott is the 13th best prospect in Cincinnati’s system.
“I think he’s going to be nervous, but it’s just baseball and it’s 90 feet to each base and sixty feet to the plate,” Moreno said. “I hope he can enjoy the opportunity here and try to have fun.”
MISSISSIPPI 000 330 012 – 9/13/0
CHATTANOOGA 000 000 200 – 2/6/0
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