By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns built a 3-0 lead over Chattanooga, but the Lookouts scored five times in the sixth inning on the way to a 6-3 win at AT&T Field on Wednesday night.
The Suns began the scoring in the second inning against Lookouts starting pitcher Aaron Miller. Shawn Bowman led off the inning with a walk on four pitches, Kyle Jensen followed with a single, and Kyle Skipworth also drew a free pass to load the bases with no outs. Miller then bounced a pitch in the dirt that went all the way to the backstop, with Bowman scoring from third to put the Suns in front 1-0. The wild pitch was just Miller’s second in 42 innings of work this season. Jeff Dominguez then sent a sacrifice fly to right field, with Jensen scoring to increase the lead to 2-0.
In the top of the third, Jacksonville added another run, when shortstop Danny Black led off the inning with a double to right. With one out, Jake Smolinski also doubled down the right field line and the Suns had a 3-0 advantage. Black is 5-for-12 with two runs scored in his first three games with the Suns.
In the home half of the third, the pitcher Aaron Miller began the inning when he swung at the first pitch and doubled down the left field line off of Suns starter Jose Alvarez. Miller is the Lookouts best hitting pitcher and helped his own cause, and is now 4-for-13 this season with a double and a triple. After Nick Buss grounded out to first with Miller advancing to third, Rafael Ynoa put the Lookouts on the board with a single up the middle to make the score 3-1.
The Lookouts sent nine men to the plate in the sixth inning, scoring five runs on four hits. J.T. Wise doubled to start the inning, and Pedro Baez was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, Brahiam Maldonado came to the plate, and with one swing of the bat, the Lookouts had their first lead of the night 4-3. The two-run blast to left field was Maldonado’s first home run and first runs batted in this season.
With Alvarez still on the mound, Griff Erickson doubled with two outs, and pinch hitter Travis Denker was walked intentionally. Nick Buss then smashed a base-clearing triple to right-center, and the Lookouts had padded their lead to 6-3. Buss is now third in the Southern League in triples with five.
The Lookouts have won five of the six meetings against the Suns this season. Jacksonville is now a season-high four games below .500 with a record of 21-25. After winning nine of the first dozen games on the road, the Suns have now lost six of their last eight road contests. The Suns lost for just the third time this season after scoring the first run of the game (17-3).
Chattanooga has won four straight games, outscoring their opponents 31-18 along the way. The Lookouts improved to 23-23 on the season. Chattanooga is perfect on the season with a record of 21-0 when leading after the seventh inning.
Jose Alvarez suffered the loss to fall to 1-2 on the season. He pitched five and two-thirds of an inning allowing six runs on 10 hits, both season highs. Aaron Miller pitched six innings, allowing three runs on four hits to improve his record to 3-4. Two of his three wins this season have come against the Suns. Miller and two relievers combined to one-hit the Suns in a 1-0 Lookouts win April 12th at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Logan Bawcom pitched the ninth inning on Wednesday night to earn his third save of the season for the Lookouts.
For Jacksonville, Jake Smolinski finished 2-for-4 and drove in a run and Jeff Dominguez went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. For Chattanooga, Nick Buss was 2-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs with his fifth triple of the season. Griff Erickson went 2-for-3 and scored a run. Nine different Lookouts batters had at least one hit in the game. The Suns scored three runs on nine hits, the Lookouts plated six runs on 11 hits. The Suns haven’t out hit an opponent in their last nine games.
The Suns will look to bounce back on Thursday with Bryan Evans (0-3, 4.08) starting his ninth game of the season. Matt Magill (3-2, 3.73) gets the call for the Lookouts. The first pitch is set for 7:15p.m. from AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee.