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Smokies top Lookouts 7-6, even series

(Tennessee Smokies)  1B David Freitas was the catalyst for the Smokies’ offense on Thursday night. The 27-year old collected a two-run triple and a two-run home run, falling a double shy of the cycle, as Tennessee held on to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts, 7-6, at AT&T Field.

With the win, Tennessee has now won three of its last four one-run games and improved their overall mark to 22-25. The loss drops the Lookouts to a 20-27 record.

Leading 5-4, the Smokies needed some insurance runs in the top of the eighth. C Victor Caratini (2-3, 3 R, 2B, BB) started the frame with a single to right, setting the stage for Freitas (3-4, R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI). The right-handed slugger cranked an offering from RHP Luke Bard (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 3 SO) to deep right field. The clout carried over the wall for a two-run shot – Freitas’ second of the year – to give the Smokies some cushioning with a 7-4 edge.

Those two runs proved to be key, as the Lookouts rallied in the bottom of the ninth. With closer RHP Corey Black (1.0 IP, H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB) on the bump, Chattanooga kick started their rally with a pair of walks to start the inning. After a groundout moved the runners to second and third, DH Mitch Garver (3-5, RBI) looped a single into shallow left. 1B D.J. Hicks (1-4, R, RBI, BB) scored to trim the deficit to 7-5.

After Garver was lifted for pinch-runner Shannon Wilkerson, SS Leo Reginatto (3-5, 2B, 2 RBI) hit a tapper to third. 3BJeimer Candelario made a nice play to get the force at second, but Tennessee could not get the relay throw to first in time to end the game. LF Travis Harrison (1-4, 2 R, 2B, BB) crossed the dish to pull the Lookouts within a run at 7-6.

Representing the tying run, Reginatto decided to break for second with C Stuart Turner (1-4, 2 SO) at the plate as the winning tally. Black’s offering missed the zone, but Caratini’s strike to second was right on the money. Reginatto was tagged out by 2B Ben Carhart to end game and give the Smokies a nail-biting win.

Chattanooga initially jumped out to a two-run lead in the first thanks to a solo home run by CF Zack Granite (1-5, R, HR, RBI, SO) – his first of the season – and a RBI single by Hicks.

Tennessee answered back with a sacrifice fly by 2B Stephen Bruno (0-1, RBI, SO) in the second and then grabbed the lead for good in the third.

DH Chesny Young (2-5, R, SO) started the frame with a single and CF Jacob Hannemann (1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, SO) followed by cranking a two-run homer – his team-high-tying fifth of the year – to put Tennessee up, 3-2. The rally continued as after a LFMark Zagunis (2-5, R, 2 2B, SO) double and a walk to Caratini, Freitas lashed a two-run triple to dead center. Both runners scored on the extra-base hit to put the Smokies in front, 5-2.

The Lookouts scored again in the third on a run-scoring single by RF Daniel Palka (3-5, R, RBI) and plated another tally in the seventh thanks to a RBI two-bagger by Reginatto.

Smokies’ starter – RHP Duane Underwood Jr. (4.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) – did not factor into the decision. The 21-year old allowed three runs on seven hits over four innings. RHP Juan Paniagua (2.0 IP, 2 H, SO) tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief to garner his second victory of the season. Black accrued his team-leading sixth save of the year.

LHP Nick Greenwood (6.0 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 5 ER, BB, 2 SO) – who was signed by the Chicago Cubs to a minor league contract this offseason and was released before the campaign started – suffered his first loss of the year for Chattanooga. The southpaw yielded five runs on 12 hits over six frames.

Freitas (3-4, R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI) led the Smokies’ offense with a season-high-tying three hits and a year-best four runs batted in. Young (2-5, R, SO), Zagunis (2-5, R, 2 2B, SO), Caratini (2-3, 3 R, 2B, BB) and RF Billy McKinney (2-4) each tallied multi-hit games in the victory.

For the Lookouts, Palka (3-5, R, RBI), Garver (3-5, RBI) and Reginatto (3-5, 2B, 2 RBI) all recorded three-hit performances in a one-run loss.

Tennessee is expected to turn to RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 0.96 ERA) in game three of the series on Friday night. LHPDavid Hurlbut (2-3, 4.66 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for Chattanooga.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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