KODAK, Tenn. (smokiesbaseball.com) – Matt Spencer’s three-run homerun in the eighth inning helped the Tennessee Smokies overcome a five-run deficit and beat the Chattanooga Lookouts 7-6 Friday night at Smokies Park. The win, in front of 6,404 fans, increases the Smokies record to a Southern League best 43-25. The Lookouts drop to 33-35.
Trailing 6-3 in the eighth, the Smokies capped a huge rally with a four-run inning to take the lead. Nate Samson led things off with a double, and Brett Jackson singled to put runners at first and third. Samson scored on an error by 1B Brian Cavazos-Glavez and after the next two batters struck out, Spencer ripped a three-run homerun to right center to put the Smokies ahead 7-6.
Chattanooga took control early with a big first inning. Alfredo Silverio led off the game with a solo home run, and Cavazos-Galvez followed with a double to right. Hector Gimenez reached on a hit by pitch, and two batters later, Scott Van Slyke doubled to score Cavazos-Galvez. Wilberto Ortiz then tripled, bringing home Gimenez and Van Slyke and giving the Lookouts a 4-0 advantage.
Smokies starter Chris Rusin lasted only one inning allowing four runs on four hits, before giving way to Ryan Searle.
The Lookouts lead grew to 5-0 in the fourth, as Ivan Ochoa started the inning with a single to right and later scored on a Cavazos-Galvez double.
Josh Vitters put the Smokies on the board an inning later with his seventh homerun of the year, a solo shot to narrow the deficit to 5-1.
Chattanooga answered with a run in the sixth when Ochoa came in on a Silverio double. In the bottom half, Nelson Perez led things off with a solo homer and Marwin Gonzalez drove in Junior Lake with an RBI single, cutting it to 6-3.
Searle put together a stellar performance in relief, although didn’t factor in the decision. Searle went five innings allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out five.
Kevin Rhoderick (3-0) picked up the win after allowing two hits and striking out four in the final two frames. Shawn Tolleson (0-1) took the loss for the Lookouts.
Game 4 of the five-game set between the Smokies and Lookouts will be Saturday night at 6:15 p.m. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-4, 2.83) will start for Chattanooga and RHP Dallas Beeler (1-1, 3.27) will go for Tennessee. The first 2,500 fans will receive a free Smokies cap courtesy of Hardee’s, Fairfield Inn & Suites Sevierville-Kodak and The Knoxville News Sentinel. Myron Noodleman will also be making his first of two appearances to Smokies Park and it is also Pink Ribbon Night, with a jersey auction of special pink Smokies jerseys. For tickets fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call 865-286-2300.