By Steve Kolbe
If you enjoy pitching, you came to the right place! There were only three hits in the game and the Chattanooga Lookouts downed the Suns 1-0 on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds. Just a day after an offensive explosion where the two teams combined for 15 runs and 17 hits, the pitchers stole the spotlight in the third game of the series.
Lookouts starter Aaron Miller took the mound for the second time this season. In his first start, he lasted just two innings and allowed a run and five hits. Miller was masterful against the Suns, allowing just one hit while striking out 10 batters in five innings of work to earn his first win of the season. The only hit of the game for Jacksonville was a second inning single by Kyle Skipworth. Chattanooga has won all three games in the series after winning just once in their first five games.
Overall, the Suns had just four base runners on the night, with one single and three walks. Aaron Miller, along with relievers Red Patterson and Shawn Tolleson threw a one-hitter. The trio combined to strike out 15 Suns batters in the game. Miller didn’t allow a base runner after the second inning. Patterson took over for Miller to start the sixth inning and was just as sharp as his predecessor. He pitched three hitless innings and then turned the ball over to the Lookouts closer Shawn Tolleson for the ninth. He proceeded to strike out the side and complete the pitching gem for Chattanooga. It was Tolleson’s second save of the series. Overall, the three Chattanooga pitchers combined to retire 23 straight batters from the second inning on.
Zach Neal was impressive in his first start for the Suns. The lone run in the game came off the bat of Lookouts left fielder Kyle Russell, who hit a solo home run to right in the fourth inning. It was Neal’s only mistake. He pitched six innings allowing just two hits and stuck out two along the way. Evan Reed pitched two innings and Josh Schmidt one, with neither allowing a hit. The three Suns pitchers retired 16 straight batters from the fourth inning on.
Last season, Matt Moore of the Montgomery Biscuits pitched a no-hitter against Mobile in an 8-0 win on June 16, 2011. There were also two combined one-hitters during the 2011 season, with one the very next day after the no-hitter. The Jackson Generals one-hit the Carolina Mudcats in a 1-0 win June 17, 2011 behind the pitching of Andrew Carraway. The second one-hitter of last season came August 9th when Alexander Colome led Montgomery over Mobile 6-0.
The Suns were shutout five times all of last season, and the first time they were held without a run wasn’t until mid-May. Jacksonville was shutout twice by Mississippi and Carolina during 2011, and once by Jackson.
The 10 strikeouts by Aaron Miller were far from the Lookouts all-time record. Jim Kaat holds the Southern Association record with 19 strikeouts in a game during the 1959 season.
Game four of the series between the Suns and Lookouts is Friday April 13th. It’s a match up of right-handers as Matt Magill takes the mound for Chattanooga, and Jacksonville gives the ball to Graham Taylor.