A Tale of Two Games
CHATTANOOGA, TN – It was the best of baseball, it was the worst of baseball. Despite a season-high 19 hits, the Rocket City Trash Pandas blew a nine-run, fifth-inning lead and fell to the Chattanooga Lookouts 10-9 Friday evening at AT&T Field in front of 4,407 fans. Rocket City’s bullpen
CHATTANOOGA, TN – It was the best of baseball, it was the worst of baseball.
Despite a season-high 19 hits, the Rocket City Trash Pandas blew a nine-run, fifth-inning lead and fell to the Chattanooga Lookouts 10-9 Friday evening at AT&T Field in front of 4,407 fans. Rocket City’s bullpen allowed all 10 runs on 12 hits over the final 4.1 innings.
For the second consecutive night, Rocket City started the scoring in the first inning. Leftfielder Orlando Martinez doubled to left then first baseman David MacKinnon singled to right to bring in the first run.
In the second, the Trash Pandas plated four more runs off Lookouts starter Randy Wynne. Martinez began the inning with a double to right and MacKinnon followed with a single to left to put runners at the corners with one out. A balk from Wynne scored Martinez and moved MacKinnon to second before designated hitter Ibandel Isabel laced an RBI triple to right-center. Isabel then scored on a sac fly to left from shortstop Luis Aviles and the Trash Pandas owned a 4-0 lead.
Rocket City would bust the game open with five more runs in the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Isabel and Nay started the frame with Nay getting the RBI. After Aviles was hit with a pitch, centerfielder Torii Hunter Jr. lobbed his third single of the game to center to bring in Nay while Aviles raced for third. Second baseman Gavin Cecchini followed with a sac fly to center and the Trash Pandas owned a 7-0 lead.
With Hunter at first and two out, rightfielder Izzy Wilson blooped a singled to shallow centerfied, which was overrun by second baseman Brian Rey. Hunter scored from first on the play while Wilson went to second on the throw home. Martinez came up next and slashed a single to center to score Wilson and up the lead to 9-0.
That was as good as it would get for Rocket City as the second half of the game was all about Chattanooga. The Lookouts started their comeback with three runs in the fifth. Third-baseman Byrd Tenerowicz doubled, then scored on two wild pitches uncorked by Trash Pandas pitcher Kyle Tyler. Designated hitter Jose Barrero stood in next, drew a walk, then came around on a double to right from shortstop Leonardo Rivas. Rightfielder Leonardo Cedrola lined a single to center to score Rivas and the Rocket City lead was cut to 9-3.
In the sixth, Chattanooga added two more runs. Rey led off the inning with a double to left before advancing to third on a fielding error from Aviles, which allowed centerfielder T.J. Hopkins to reach. Rey came in on an RBI groundout to third from leftfielder Jay Schuyler, sending Hopkins to second, before Tenerowicz grounded an RBI single to center.
The comeback continued in the seventh as Cedrola started things with a single to center, then raced in from first on a double to left by catcher Mark Kolozsvary. With two away, Hopkins grounded a single to center to score Kolozsvary, bringing the Lookouts to within 9-7.
In the eighth, Barrero doubled to left, moved to third on a groundout, then scored on a two-out RBI single to center by Cedrola to make the score 9-8.
Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, closer Connor Higgins hit Kolozsvary to start the inning. A sac bunt moved Kolozsvary to second, before Hopkins reached on a broken bat infield single to short which put runners at the corners with one out. Pinch hitter Wilson Garcia stood in next and grounded out to short on a ball that was hit too softly to turn a double play. Kolozsvary scored on the play and Hopkins moved to second with two out.
That set the stage for Tenerowicz, who started the comeback with a double in the fifth, then ended it on a double over the head of Hunter in center to end the game in the ninth. Hunter started in on the line drive hit right at him before realizing he had to go back. By then, it was too late as the game ended on the misplayed fly ball.
Getting the win for the Lookouts was Nick Howard (1-0) who tossed a scoreless ninth on a hit. The loss went to Higgins (0-2) who allowed two runs on two hits with a strikeout in an inning-plus. It was his first blown save of the season.
Major League reliever Chris Rodriguez started the game for the Trash Pandas and tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball while allowing two hits, a walk and striking out two.
Of the Trash Pandas 19 hits Martinez finished 4-5 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. Isabel was 3-5, finishing a homer short of the cycle, with an RBI and two runs scored. MacKinnon and Hunter each had three singles with a run scored and RBI. Nay was 2-5 with a double, RBI and run scored, while Checcini finished 2-5 with an RBI to round out the Trash Pandas hit parade.
For the Lookouts, Tenerowicz led the way by going 3-5 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored. Cedrola chipped in with four singles, two RBI and a run scored. Rey was 2-4 with a double and run, while Hopkins was also 2-4 with an RBI and the game-winning run. Chattanooga had 14 hits in the contest.
The Trash Pandas (24-21) will continue their six-game series against Chattanooga (25-20) with game five on Saturday evening at AT&T Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT. The game can be heard on 103.9 FM THE UMP and SportsRadio 730 AM with Josh Caray on the call.