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Blue Wahoos' Late Inning Hopes Fall Short As Lookouts Hold On 

Blue Wahoos first baseman Riley Mahan looks to catch a foul ball with fans during Sunday's game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. (Daniel Venn)
July 18, 2021

This was the kind of home game the Blue Wahoos so often won this season. Late innings. Low scoring. Baserunners aboard. The crowd energized. A doable rally. But it didn’t happen Sunday, as the Blue Wahoos big-hit struggles continued in a 3-1 loss against the Chattanooga Lookouts, despite seven hits

This was the kind of home game the Blue Wahoos so often won this season.

Late innings. Low scoring. Baserunners aboard. The crowd energized. A doable rally.

But it didn’t happen Sunday, as the Blue Wahoos big-hit struggles continued in a 3-1 loss against the Chattanooga Lookouts, despite seven hits and prime chances in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Lookouts (36-27) took the series 4-2. The Blue Wahoos (36-30) lost back-to-back series for the first time this season and fell into third place in the Double-A South.

After an off-day Monday to recharge, the Blue Wahoos will seek to change course on the road this week against the Montgomery Biscuits (33-29), who have won six in a row.

A crowd of 4,242 at Blue Wahoos Stadium was urging more late-inning magic when the Blue Wahoos loaded the bases with two out in the eighth, then had the tying run at the plate in the ninth, but strikeouts each time squelched hopes.

Most of the crowd stayed afterward, however, as a large throng of kids ran the bases and families played catch in the outfield to make the game experience special.

The Blue Wahoos lineup struggled to produce runs in the final five games of the homestand.

That 9-run, second-inning, and 11-3 win the Blue Wahoos produced five days earlier at Blue Wahoos Stadium against the Lookouts seemed long ago Sunday.

Blue Wahoos starter Jeff Lindgren, who earned the win July 13 in the series opener against Chattanooga, was just as sharp on the mound Sunday.

He worked five innings, gave up two runs, five hits and walked only one batter in a hard-luck loss. The Lookouts Graham Ashcraft, who didn’t survive the second inning in that prior start against the Blue Wahoos, was in command Sunday.

He gave up four hits, all singles, one walk and struck out five.

Chattanooga took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on Drew Mount’s homer off Lindgren. They added another run with a two-out hit in the fifth.

A throwing error by Blue Wahoos new reliever Andrew Nardi on a pick off attempt, following a walk, in the eighth inning led to the third run.

Even so, the Blue Wahoos had plenty of chances. They had at least one baserunner in eight of the innings, but could not string together hits or get a two-out hit.

The best chances happened in the final two at-bats. In the eighth, Lookouts reliever Hector Perez loaded the bases with two-out walks. The Lookouts summoned their closer Nick Howard.

Pensacola’s Tristan Pompey fouled a pitch off against him, but struck out swinging to end the inning.

In the ninth, Devin Hairston beat out a double play that would have ended the game. J.D. Orr continued his impact since joining the team with a run-scoring double.

J.J. Bleday, moved into a leadoff spot in the order, worked a 3-2 count as the crowd stood. But Howard struck him out to earn his eighth save.

GAME NOTABLES – The Blue Wahoos’ six-game homestand produced three capacity crowds (5,038) and nearly 27,000 fans.

The auction for Saturday’s game-worn, Flight Suit, jerseys exceeded $10,000 with proceeds benefitting a local charity.

The Blue Wahoos saxophone player who greets fans at the top of the stairs during home games, performed the National Anthem on Sunday.

WHAT’S NEXT?

WHO: Blue Wahoos vs. Montgomery Biscuits

WHEN: July 20 Thru July 25.

WHERE: Riverwalk Stadium, Montgomery, Ala.

RADIO: ESPN-Pensacola (99.1 FM, 1330 AM), Chris Garagiola on play-by-play.

LIVESTREAM: MILB-TV (subscription required).

NEXT HOMESTAND: Begins July 27 vs. Mississippi Braves.