MADISON, Alabama – Time and time again on Friday night, the Rocket City Trash Pandas loaded the bases, with little results early. But with the game on the line, the Trash Pandas finally got the clutch hit they needed from their newest player to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts 5-3 in
MADISON, Alabama – Time and time again on Friday night, the Rocket City Trash Pandas loaded the bases, with little results early. But with the game on the line, the Trash Pandas finally got the clutch hit they needed from their newest player to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts 5-3 in the fourth game of a six-game series at Toyota Field.
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, walks to Ryan Aguilar and Logan O’Hoppe and a hit-by-pitch to Livan Soto loaded the bases with one out. In his third at-bat of the night with the bases loaded, Zach Neto crushed a ground-rule double to the gap in left center, scoring Aguilar and O’Hoppe to give the Trash Pandas a 5-3 lead.
In the ninth, Kolton Ingram (S, 9) entered and threw a perfect inning, getting Elly De La Cruz to fly out to left to end the game, giving the Trash Pandas their third win of the current series with the Lookouts.
The game also began well for the home team. Making his ninth Double-A start, Trash Pandas righty Sam Bachman got off on the right foot, retiring the first three hitters he faced to start the night. Rocket City gave Bachman the lead in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with nobody out. Neto’s double play ground out scored Aguilar, but gut Eduardo Salazar out of the jam with just one run allowed.
Bachman again retired the side in order in the second and a double play got him through the third unscathed. The fourth inning would be the difference off Bachman. Walks to Matt McLain and De La Cruz put two on. Alex McGarry then connected on the first Chattanooga hit of the night, a three-run homer to right to propel the visitors ahead 3-1.
That would be the end of Bachman’s night. Over four innings, he allowed three runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Trash Pandas again loaded the bases for the fourth inning in a row. Again, the Lookouts escaped with only one run against, with Neto’s fielder’s choice ground out plating Aguilar to make it a one-run game at 3-2.
In his Double-A debut in the fifth, Trash Pandas reliever Glenn Albanese worked around three walks to pitch a scoreless inning. Chattanooga again took a pair of walks in the sixth before Luke Murphy got out of it unharmed to keep it a one-run game.
Murphy and Sean McLaughlin combined on a scoreless seventh, giving Rocket City a chance to get even. Sonny DiChiara began the inning with a walk. Kevin Maitan then hit a grounder to first. McGarry’s throw to second was wide, allowing DiChiara to advance to third on the error. Bryce Teodosio followed with a deep fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly, allowing DiChiara to slide home with the tying run.
McLaughlin returned to the mound in the eighth and navigated through two more baserunners to keep the game tied, setting up the decisive hit.
At the plate, Neto drove in three of the five Rocket City runs while Soto went a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk. From the leadoff spot, Aguilar took three walks while going 1-for-2 with three runs scored. Five Rocket City pitchers combined to hold Chattanooga to three runs on three hits, despite 10 walks. McLaughlin (W, 3-4) picked up the win after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings with a walk and two strikeouts, giving the Trash Pandas their ninth straight Friday home victory at Toyota Field.
The Trash Pandas (64-48, 23-20 second half) continue their series against the Lookouts (48-64, 14-29 second half) on Saturday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is set for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The game will also be televised locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV. After the game, a fireworks show will light up the North Alabama sky, presented by Big Bear A.I.