Lookouts stave off Smokies rally, win 4-3 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lookouts stave off Smokies rally, win 4-3

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KODAK, TN (milb.com) ---  Lookouts lefty David Hurlbut fired seven solid innings to extend his scoreless streak to over 25 innings, while the Smokies mounted a late ninth-inning comeback effort that came up just one run short as Chattanooga held on for a 4-3 victory over Tennessee in front of 6,722 fans on Saturday night at Smokies Stadium.

The win ups the Lookouts' second half tally to 10-17, as well as a 53-52 overall record this year. The Smokies fell to 12-16 since the halfway point of the 2015 campaign, while also dropping to 51-46 over their entire season. The large crowd also increased the club's average attendance mark to 4,612, putting them on pace to beat their franchise record of 4,102 that was set last year.

Entering the bottom of the ninth down four, the Smokies offense came alive with a late charge. CF Albert Almora Jr. led off the rally with a single and then took second when SS Elliot Soto drew a free pass, before coming across via RF Billy McKinney's run-scoring base hit to right, ending Chattanooga's shutout hopes and giving Tennessee new life. 3B Jeimer Candelario then cut the deficit to two by plating Soto with an RBI single to left, before DH Stephen Bruno singled to load the bases and 1B Jacob Rogers reached on a walk, forcing home McKinney and slimming the margin to one.

With one out and the bases loaded, including the tying run at third and winning run in scoring position, pinch hitter Bijan Rademacher lifted a flare out toward short left field. Lookouts 3B Aderlin Mejia, however, was able to scamper back and make an exception reaching grab to rob Tennessee of a possible walk-off win, while the next batter was sent down on a force out to end the game and give Chattanooga the win.

Before the final inning drama, Hurlbut (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO) dazzled in his seven strong frames, earning his fourth consecutive victory, and seventh win of the year overall, thanks to his seven shutout frames, adding five strikeouts. Since allowing a single run in the first inning on July 8 at Jacksonville, the southpaw has been lights out for the Lookouts, combining for 25 scoreless innings in that time period.

After being retired in order in the first, the Smokies did put a baserunner on every inning after through the seventh, yet each time the 25-year-old left-hander was up to the task and prevented Tennessee from scoring. The largest threat against the lefty came in the sixth, when Tennessee got the first two runners on base and then moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, but Hurlbut was able to weave out of trouble, fanning the next batter before inducing a flyout to end the threat.

For the first time in the series, it was Chattanooga who struck first, doing so in the third. SS Niko Goodrum led off the inning with a base knock to right, then moved from first to third on Meijia's single to right, before coming across on a doubel play to put the Lookouts ahead 1-0.

That margin would double to two three innings later in the sixth via another groundball out. CF Max Kepler led off the frame with a three-bagger to right, and then would score via an RBI groundout off the bat of 1B Kennys Vargas to push the advantage to 2-0.

The lead would grow to three, then four, with single tallies in the eighth and ninth frames. LF Adam Brett Walker began with a double to left and then advanced to third on a wild pitch, before being brought plateward thanks to C Stuart Turner's RBI base knock to center to make it a 3-0 score. Vargas would later leave the yard with a solo smash in the very next inning, his fourth with Chattanooga, to cap the scoring for the Lookouts and give the club what turned out to be a very crucial run.

Vargas (2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI) was one of two Chattanooga batters to record a multi-hit effort, along with Mejia (2-4), while McKinney (2-4, R, 2B, RBI) and Bruno (2-4, 2B) also tallied two base knocks for the Smokies. The multi-hit effort for Bruno marked the infielder's third consecutive two-hit game, totaling six hits over his last 11 at bats, all of which have come against the Lookouts in the current series.

Smokies starter Andres Santiago (6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) suffered the loss despite a quality start, yielding just two earned runs on seven hits in six innings of work, to fall to 1-4. Reliever Gerardo Concepcion (1.0 IP, SO) notched his sixth straight scoreless outing with a shutout seventh in support of Santiago, while Chattnooga relief man J.T. Chargois (1.0 IP, SO) fired a perfect eighth to notch his second hold.

Tennessee finishes their three-game homestand on Sunday afternoon against the Lookouts, with first pitch scheduled for 5:05 p.m. against the Minnesota Twins' Double-A affiliate. The Smokies are anticipated to give the nod to RHP Felix Pena (5-6, 4.17) in the series finale, while Chttanooga is expected to send RHP Alex Wimmers (5-3, 5.28) to the mound.

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