Lookouts Edge Wahoos 3-2, Even Series

Offense stalls while bullpen continues to shine

By Pensacola Blue Wahoos | April 14, 2018 10:54 PM

Pensacola, Fla. - On a gusty night along the bay, the Blue Wahoos surrendered an early lead and again fell to the Lookouts, 3-2.

In nearly identical fashion from the night before, Pensacola scored early in the first inning to get off to a positive start. CJ McElroy opened the inning with a double to left. Josh VanMeter laid down a sacrifice bunt and Lookouts starter Lewis Thorpe fired the ball over the head of Brent Rooker into right field for the Lookouts' second error of the season. McElroy scored to make it 1-0 and VanMeter went all the way to third.

After Gavin LaValley flew out to center, Gabriel Guerrero hit into a fielder's choice as VanMeter was caught trying to score by Ryan Walker's strong throw to the plate. That out hurt twice as much because the next batter was Nick Longhi who floated a single into right field that would've scored VanMeter easily. Instead, Aristides Aquino struck out to strand a pair of Wahoos and Pensacola left the first inning feeling cheated they only scored once.

The Wahoos would double their advantage in the third when VanMeter led off the inning with a single. Then, with one out, Guerrero smacked an 0-2 double to left field. Guerrero was stranded at second and Aquino and Longhi were retired to end in the inning.

At the start of the game, a two-run lead seemed like it would be plenty. Kevin Shackelford pitched the opening inning as part of his MLB-rehab assignment. Jesus Reyes was originally slated to start the game but was bumped back to the second after the pregame transaction.

When Reyes took the hill, he looked terrific retiring the first seven Lookouts before allowing a one-out single to Nick Gordon in the fourth. Despite allowing the hit, Reyes calmly worked around a Taylor Sparks error, striking out Chris Paul and then nabbing Gordon at the plate, who was trying to score on a wild pitch.

Things turned south in the fifth inning for the Wahoos when Chattanooga strung together an eight-man rally. After back-to-back singles to open the frame, Brian Navarreto moved the runners into scoring position with a sac bunt. Reyes walked Ryan Walker to load the bases and nearly escaped trouble by striking out Tanner English for the second out of the inning. However, LaMonte Wade hit a dribbler towards first that took a slight deflection as it approached the first baseman LaValley, who bobbled the ball. Despite recovering, Reyes was unable to catch the feed from LaValley and two runs scored. The Lookouts immediately cashed in on the mistake when Gordon singled to right field to score Wade, giving Chattanooga their first lead of the game.

Once Lookouts manager Tommy Watkins handed the ball to his bullpen, they did not disappoint. Pensacola managed only one hit over the final five innings of the game to come up short once again. Todd Van Steensel earned his first win of the season while Omar Bencomo wrapped up his first save.

The series wraps up tomorrow afternoon with RHP Wyatt Strahan (1-0, 1.80) taking the mound for Pensacola in his first career start at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Meanwhile, Chattanooga will counter with RHP Kohl Stewart (1-0, 1.80) as the defending North Division champs seek their first series win of 2018. Baseball America has Stewart ranked as the number 30 prospect in the Twins organization. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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