(Tennessee Smokies) Chattanooga jumped out to an early 3-0 before the Smokies scored three unanswered runs to even the game in the eighth. However, the Lookouts would come away with the victory, as CF Zack Granite ripped a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Tennessee, 4-3, on Thursday night at AT&T Field.
With the loss, the Smokies fall to 13-19 in the second half of the campaign and 41-61 overall. The Lookouts have improved their second half record to 18-15 and total mark to 54-49.
Tied at three, RF Edgar Corcino (2-4, 2 R, RBI) led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center. After SS Engelb Vielma (0-2) sacrifice bunted the runner to second, 2B Levi Michael (3-3, RBI) plopped a single into left to put runners at the corners. On a 2-0 pitch, Granite (1-4, RBI) slapped a line drive past the pitcher and into center field for a hit. Corcino scored easily to give the Lookouts a 4-3 victory.
Chattanooga jumped out to an initial 1-0 lead in the first. DH Ryan Walker (2-4, R, 2B, SO) cranked a double into right with one out and 1B Mitch Garver (2-4, RBI, SO) brought him home with a bloop RBI single to right-center.
The Lookouts added two more runs in the second. C Stuart Turner (0-3, R, BB, SO) ignited the rally with a leadoff walk and advanced all the way to third thanks to a stolen base and a throwing error. Corcino made Tennessee pay for their miscue, as he ripped a base-hit to center to score Turner and stretch the Lookouts lead to 2-0. The 24-year-old continued the attack by moving to second on a stolen bag and then to third on a sacrifice bunt. Michael would score him on a sacrifice fly to right, putting Chattanooga up, 3-0.
The Smokies scratched to within a run after scoring a pair in the fourth. Following a leadoff single by 1B Victor Caratini (2-3, 2 R, BB), 3B Gioskar Amaya (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 SO) crushed a liner into the left-center field gap. Caratini scooted all the way around from first to score on the Venezuelan native’s two-bagger to make it a 3-1 contest. The next hitter – C Ben Carhart (1-4, RBI, SO) – pulled Tennessee within 3-2 thanks a run-scoring ground out to short.
In the eighth, Tennessee drove in the equalizer. With two out, Caratini drew a free pass and DH David Freitas (1-3, 2B, RBI, BB, SO) launched a shot to deep left. The blast could not quite clear the fence, but the former Hawai’i standout’s double scored Caratini to tie the contest at three.
Neither starter picked up a decision despite earning quality starts.
RHP Michael Wagner (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) went a season-high six innings and surrendered three runs on six hits for Tennessee. Chattanooga’s LHP David Hurlbut (7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 6 SO) struck out six over seven frames and left in line for the victory, but received a no-decision.
RHP Raul Fernandez (1.0 IP, SO) tossed a three up, three down ninth inning to garner his second victory of the 2016 season for Chattanooga. RHP Nick Sarianides (0.1 IP, 3 H, R, ER) suffered his second loss after issuing the game-winning run in the contest’s final frame.
The Smokies will look even the series edge on Friday night, as they are expected to send Southern League Mid-Season All-Star – RHP Brad Markey (6-6, 2.66 ERA) to the bump. RHP Felix Jorge (0-2, 5.85 ERA) – Minnesota’s 24th-best prospect according to Baseball America – is scheduled to toe the slab for the Lookouts.