By Steve Kolbe
The Chattanooga Lookouts jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the second inning and edged the Suns 4-3 in the first of a five-game set on Tuesday night.
The Lookouts entered the game after losing four-of-five at home to Tennessee in the first week of the season. In those games Chattanooga scored 17 runs, with most of them coming in a 10-2 win. On Tuesday, the Lookouts struck first at the Baseball Grounds. After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning against Jacksonville starter Joey O’Gara, the Lookouts jumped out in front in the second inning when they loaded the bases again. That set the table for J.T. Wise, who drove in two runs with an infield single to make it 2-0. Kyle Russell followed with and RBI single to center to make the score 3-0.
Donnie Webb led off the Suns half of the third inning with a walk, and eventually came around to score on a Jeff Dominguez single to cut the Lookouts lead to 3-1. The Suns threatened later in the inning, but Jake Smolinski was thrown out at the plate trying to score after a Shawn Bowman single, and that ended the rally.
In the fourth inning, the Suns made it 3-2 when Kyle Skipworth scored on an infield hit by O’Gara. It was the first hit by a Suns pitcher this season. Smolinski singled to right later in the inning to drive in Donnie Webb and that tied the score 3-3. Skipworth and Smolinski were both 2-for-4 in the game. Smolinski drove in his first run of the season.
But that would be all for the Suns offensively. Chattanooga took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth when Pedro Baez doubled to left field, and Blake Smith drove him home with a double of his own to right field.
The winning pitcher was Allen Webster. He went six innings to improve to 1-1 on the season. Webster allowed nine hits and three runs, he also struck out three. Shawn Tolleson earned his first save of the season sitting the Suns down in order in the ninth.
Suns starter Joey O’Gara suffered the loss and is now 1-1 on the season. O’Gara pitched five innings allowing six hits and four runs, only one of which was earned. He walked only two batters while striking out seven. The trio of Josh Schmidt, Wade Korpi, and A.J. Ramos combined to pitch four innings and struck out a total of seven more Chattanooga hitters. For the game, the Suns pitching staff struck out 14.
Game two of the series between Chattanooga and Jacksonville is Wednesday afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM. Ethan Martin will take the mound for the Lookouts with Bryan Evans making a spot start for the Suns.