MADISON, Alabama – The Rocket City Trash Pandas battled through early struggles at the plate, got the clutch hits they needed late in the game, then held on at the very end to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts 6-5 in the finale of a six-game series on Sunday afternoon at Toyota
MADISON, Alabama – The Rocket City Trash Pandas battled through early struggles at the plate, got the clutch hits they needed late in the game, then held on at the very end to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts 6-5 in the finale of a six-game series on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Field.
The victory gives the Trash Pandas five wins in the six-game series and wraps up their season series against the Lookouts with an impressive 21-9 record, including 15-3 at Toyota Field, winning five of six games each time the Lookouts made the trip to North Alabama.
With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Kevin Maitan began the inning with a ground-rule double to left-center. Lookouts reliever Connor Curlis (L, 2-9) nearly escaped the jam unscathed. But Livan Soto’s two-out RBI single to left gave the Trash Pandas a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
In the eighth, Eric Torres navigated around a walk and a hit to hold the one-run lead. In the bottom half, Jeremiah Jackson added an insurance run with an RBI single of his own, putting Rocket City up 6-4.
Aaron Hernandez was called on for the ninth and quickly got the first two outs with a strikeout and a line out to center. Chattanooga didn’t go quietly, as Allan Cerda walked, advanced to second, and scored on Daniel Vellojin’s single to center to make it a one-run game with the Lookouts down to their last out. Facing pinch-hitter T.J. Hopkins, Hernandez (S, 3) induced a line out to center, finishing the 6-5 victory to earn his third save of the season.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel, with Chattanooga’s Andrew Abbott and Rocket City’s Chase Silseth matching each other zero for zero for the first three frames.
The visitors broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth, with a two-run homer from Nick Quintana and a solo shot from Christian Encarnacion-Strand plating the first three runs.
The Trash Pandas responded an inning later. Maitan reached with a one-out double to get it started. Aaron Whitefield then blooped a two-out single to left, plating Maitan to get the Trash Pandas on the board. After Soto was walked, Abbott was removed in favor for Curlis. The move backfired for the Lookouts, as catcher Logan O’Hoppe crushed a three-run home run down the left field line on Curlis’ second pitch to propel the Trash Pandas in front 4-3.
Chattanooga would answer in the sixth, as Elly De La Cruz’s solo shot tied the game at four against Silseth. Then, the Trash Pandas restored the lead in the seventh and held it from there.
Over six innings, Silseth allowed four runs on seven hits including three home runs, walking one and striking out seven in a no-decision. Kolton Ingram (W, 5-2) would pick up the win with a scoreless top of the seventh and two strikeouts. Torres earned his sixth hold of the season with a clean eighth before Hernandez closed it for the save.
For the Lookouts, Abbott allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts before the bullpen struggled late.
At the plate, O’Hoppe drove in half of Rocket City’s six runs with the three-run blast. Maitan went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored while Soto and Preston Palmeiro each recorded two hits in the victory, improving the Trash Pandas’ home record to 40-17 with two series’ remaining at home in the regular season.
The Trash Pandas (66-48, 25-20 second half) hit the road to begin a six-game series with the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday night. First pitch at Smokies Stadium is set for 6:15 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.