CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Elliot Soto broke a ninth-inning tie with an RBI triple to lift the Tennessee Smokies to a 3-2 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts in Monday night’s series finale at AT&T Field. With the win, the Smokies improved their record to 4-1 on the young season.
With the teams deadlocked at 2-2 in the top of the ninth and reliever Steve Ames on the mound for the Lookouts, Rebel Ridling drew a leadoff walk. Jim Adduci pinch ran and was sacrificed to second by Mike Burgess. Two batters later, Soto scorched the go-ahead triple to center, driving in his first run of the season.
Chattanooga opened the scoring in the bottom of the third when Lookouts pitcher Nathan Eovaldi drew a walk and the next batter, Nate Buss, laced an RBI triple to left to make it 1-0.
The Lookouts threatened in both the third and fourth innings, but sparking defense by the Smokies kept it a one-run contest. With one out in the top of the third and a runner on third, Jake Lemmerman flew out to center and Jae-Hoon Ha fired to the plate to gun down Buss trying to score. The fourth inning came to a close when Burgess threw out Pedro Baez, who tried to go first-to-third on a single.
The Smokies used a pair of sacrifice flies to tie the contest and take the lead. In the top of the fifth, Tennessee loaded the bases with no outs on back-to-back singles by Burgess and Michael Brenly and a Soto walk before pitcher Brooks Raley flew out to center to plate Burgess and even the score at 1-1. In the sixth, Matt Cerda led off with a double and advanced to third on a Ha single before coming home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Justin Bour to give the Smokies a 2-1 advantage.
The Lookouts tied the game, 2-2, in the seventh on an RBI triple by Baez.
For the Smokies, Raley allowed two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings, walking one and striking out for, while Eovaldi yielded one run on four this over five frames. Neither starter factoring in the decision, with Alberto Cabrera (1-0) turning in 1.2 perfect innings in relief to earn the win. Smokies closer Frank Batista walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth, but preserved the victory to notch his third save of the season.
The Smokies open up their home slate on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. when they welcome the Jackson Generals to Smokies Park in Kodak to begin a five-game series. Tennessee will send right-hander Nick Struck (1-0, 1.50 ERA) to the mound while Jackson counters with righty Andrew Carraway (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Promotions include the “Opening Night Celebration,” A pregame ceremony highlighting the 2011 season where the Smokies were awarded the John H. Johnson President’s Award for MiLB’s most outstanding organization, and much more. It’s also Pilot Prize Night, where everyone’s a winner!
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