The Chattanooga Lookouts needed every bit of firepower on both sides of the ball on Saturday night. Brent Rooker was up to the challenge, providing energy at the plate and helping seal a win with a memorable play in the field.
The Chattanooga Lookouts needed every bit of firepower on both sides of the ball on Saturday night.
Brent Rooker was up to the challenge, providing energy at the plate and helping seal a win with a memorable play in the field.
Gameday box score
The Twins' No. 8 prospect went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored and finished off a triple play as Double-A Chattanooga held on for an 11-10 victory over Montgomery at AT&T Field. It was his second career four-hit game and first since June 24, 2017 for Rookie-level Elizabethton.
The big night at the plate comes as Rooker continues to adjust to Double-A pitching after spending his debut season with Elizabethton and Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Heading into Saturday night his average lagged well behind the .280 mark he posted in 62 games in 2017.
"You grow up playing ball and hearing the phrase that some guys know how to pitch' and I didn't understand what that meant until this year," he said. "This year, I'm trying to adjust to guys executing different pitches in different spots, working their fastball on both sides of the plate to set things up. I just wasn't accustomed to seeing that in the lower levels or in college. Here, guys can manipulate at-bats to do what they want to do."
Things clicked against Montgomery. Rooker started his biggest game of the season with a double to left field in the first inning and launched a two-run shot over the left field wall with two outs in the second as the Lookouts built a 4-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth.
"On that homer, I was looking for a fastball over the middle to put a good swing on," he said. "A big point for me recently is to get a chance to give my best swing at least once an at-bat. There, I got my 'A' swing off and connected."
The 2017 first-round pick struck out in the fifth and singled again in the seventh, but arguably his biggest contribution came with Chattanooga clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth.
The Biscuits loaded the bases with none out on a hit batter, an error and a walk. Reliever Williams Ramirez plunked Brandon Lowe, plating Jake Cronenworth to cut the margin to 11-10. The Lookouts turned to Ryne Harper, who got Brett Sullivan to hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Catcher Brian Navarreto got the force, threw to third baseman Chris Paul for the second out, with Rooker completing Chattanooga's first triple play since Aug. 21, 2015.
"They've got a good lineup with good hitters in it, so that was a big threat there," Rooker said. "We made the pitching change and Ryne did a great job coming in and throwing just one pitch to get out of it in that pressure situation. He showed a lot of tenacity to throw that pitch there. I'm still not sure who we got out or how, but that was huge for him."
Heading into the series finale and a five-game road trip that follows, Rooker said he'll wind down from the excitement of Saturday's game and try to stay levelheaded.
"If pro ball has taught me one thing, it's however a night goes, you're going to have five more chances at the plate the next day," he said. "I just try to take the positives from each at-bat and game and roll over and try to improve every day. This game can be pretty humbling pretty quickly."
Tanner English and Zander Wiel both had three hits, including two doubles, for the Lookouts.
Rays No. 24 prospectRyan Boldt led the charge for Montgomery, going 4-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.
Nathan Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBrownNYC.