KODAK, Tenn. – For the fourth consecutive half, the Tennessee Smokies have won the North Division Championship with a doubleheader split with the Chattanooga Lookouts Thursday afternoon at Smokies Park, 4-3 & 5-6. The four consecutive titles sets a Southern League record for most halves won in a row. With the split, the Smokies are now 42-25. Chattanooga is now 33-34.
With Game 1 tied at three in extra innings, Rebel Ridling blasted a solo homerun to right field, giving the Smokies the win and the North Division title in walk-off fashion.
Both teams put a pair of runs on the board in the early innings. Ridling singled to drive in Brett Jackson and give Smokies a 1-0 in the first, and then Chattanooga answered with two runs in the top of the second. In the bottom half, Junior Lake brought in Nelson Perez with a single to right, tying it at 2-2.
The Lookouts took a brief 3-2 lead in the seventh when Elian Herrera came through with a two-out RBI single. Josh Vitters reached on a dropped fly ball to lead off the bottom half, and later scored when Ryan Flaherty came through with a two-out single to tie it up at 3-3.
Rafael Dolis (4-3) picked up the win in relief after allowing a run on two hits in two innings of work, while Scott Rice (1-1) took the loss for Chattanooga.
In the second game, the Smokies offense jumped out to a big lead early. In the first, Junior Lake reached on an error to start the inning and came in on a Flaherty double. Matt Spencer led off the second inning with a double, and Nate Samson followed with an RBI triple. Luis Flores hit a sac fly scoring Samson, and after Lake singled, Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-out double to drive him in extending the Smokies lead, 4-0.
The lead grew to 5-0 in the third when Matt Spencer hit a solo homer to right center, his 11th of the year.
Chattanooga found the scoreboard with a run in the fifth, and then took advantage of three Smokies errors in the sixth to put up five runs and take a 6-5 lead. Flaherty hit a two-out double to put the tying run in scoring position in the seventh, but was left stranded.
Nick Struck (1-1) took the loss for the Smokies, giving up six runs (one earned) on seven hits in 5.1 innings. Wilkin De La Rosa (1-1) picked up the win for the Lookouts, and Shawn Tolleson recorded his second save of the season after closing things out in the ninth.
The Smokies and Lookouts will continue their five-game set Friday at 7:15 p.m. The Lookouts will send RHP Allen Webster (0-1, 2.84) and the Smokies will counter LHP Chris Rusin (3-2, 4.08). For tickets fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call 865-286-2300.
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