CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee – The Rocket City Trash Pandas fell behind early twice in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Never deterred, the Trash Pandas battled back to win 4-1 in their last turn at the plate in the opener before a six-run fifth inning fueled a 7-5 win in the
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee – The Rocket City Trash Pandas fell behind early twice in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Never deterred, the Trash Pandas battled back to win 4-1 in their last turn at the plate in the opener before a six-run fifth inning fueled a 7-5 win in the nightcap at AT&T Field.
The Rocket City victories, coupled with Birmingham’s win over Tennessee, put the Trash Pandas two games ahead of the Smokies and four ahead of the Lookouts in the Southern League’s North Division with 19 games remaining in the first half.
The first game was tightly contested from the first pitch to the last. Chattanooga opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a solo homer to left by Isiah Gilliam against Trash Pandas starter Coleman Crow.
Rocket City quickly got the tying run to second in the second on Jeremiah Jackson’s leadoff double off Connor Curlis. He advanced to third on a ground out but was left there when Bryce Teodosio and Kevin Maitan struck out to end the frame.
The 1-0 score would remain through the middle innings as Crow and Curlis continued their dominance. Curlis ended his scoreless start by striking out three Trash Pandas in the fifth.
Braxton Martinez led off the sixth with a single against Chattanooga reliever Ricky Karcher (L, 3-2) and advanced to second as the tying run before being replaced by pinch runner Livan Soto. With two outs, Preston Palmeiro delivered with a clutch double off the wall in center, plating Soto with the tying run.
Chattanooga put the go-ahead run at second with a single and a hit by pitch in the bottom of the frame. Crow rebounded to strike out Francisco Urbaez, ending the inning with the game still tied. As the teams walked off the field following the inning, tempers flared and the benches cleared. However, no punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected.
Crow finished a brilliant performance by allowing one run on four hits while walking none and striking out six over six innings. This marked Crow’s fourth consecutive start allowing two or fewer runs.
The Trash Pandas would make Crow (W, 3-2) the winner with a two-out surge in the seventh. Aaron Whitefield extended the inning with a double and walks to Ryan Aguilar and Soto loaded the bases. Pedro Garcia came out of the Chattanooga bullpen and threw a strike to Jose Gomez. But the ball got away from catcher Chuckie Robinson, allowing Whitefield to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball. Gomez then hit a grounder up the middle that was misplayed by Urbaez for an error, letting both runs score for a 4-1 Rocket City lead.
Closer Eric Torres (S, 7) entered for the Trash Pandas and struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to finish the win and earn his team-leading seventh game of the season.
In the nightcap, Rocket City starter Jack Dashwood (L, 0-1) quickly got through the first two innings. He ran into trouble with two outs in the third, as five straight two-out hits gave the Lookouts a 4-0 lead. That would be the end of his night. Over three innings in his first Double-A start, Dashwood allowed four runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Rocket City got a run back in the fourth on a fielder’s choice ground out from Gomez. In the fifth, the game changed for good in the visitors’ favor. Zach Humphreys began the offensive onslaught with a two-run double down the left field line. Orlando Martinez tied the game at four with a double of his own. A single and a walk then loaded the bases for Gomez, who put Rocket City in front with a two-run double into the gap in right-center. Gomez would come around to score the sixth and final run of the inning on a bases-loaded walk from Maitan, giving the Trash Pandas a 7-4 lead.
Luke Murphy (W, 5-1) was first out of the Trash Pandas bullpen and retired all six hitters he faced between the fourth and fifth. The fifth-inning rally would give Murphy his team-leading fifth victory of the season.
Kolton Ingram (S, 4) was called on in the sixth and pitched a quick inning. Chattanooga got a run back in the seventh and put the winning run at the plate with two outs. Ingram escaped the jam by striking out Gilliam to end the game and earn the save.
Eight of the nine Rocket City starters recorded a hit in the second game, with Gomez driving in three runs and Humphreys going 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead the way. The wins improved the Trash Pandas record back to 10 games above .500 at 30-20 through the season’s first 50 games.
The Trash Pandas (30-20) and Lookouts (26-24) wrap up their series with a Sunday afternoon matinee. First pitch at AT&T Field is set for 1:15 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.