Anthony Giansanti drove in two with a pinch-hit single and Stephen Bruno drove in two more with a two-run double in a six run sixth for the Smokies as they rallied back from a three run deficit to defeat the Lookouts 8-7 at AT&T Field in Chattanooga on Friday night.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Smokies (15-13) and moved them to two games above .500 for the first time this season. It was also their third win of the five game series.
Armando Rivero pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his sixth save of the season. Rivero faced four in the ninth and struck out one. He has struck out 22 over 14 and 2/3 innings this season.
The Lookouts (11-16) rallied back from a 2-1 deficit with four in the third to take a 5-2 lead. Chattanooga starter Chris Reed held the Smokies at bay over the next two innings, but left with the bases loaded in the sixth. Tennessee scored six runs in the inning and jumped out in front again 8-5.
Reed was charged with three of the six runs in the sixth, reliever Craig Stem was charged with the rest. Stem (0-2) allowed three of his inherited runners to score and allowed three more later in the inning. He did not record an out in the sixth and left with two runners on.
Austin Kirk picked up the win for the Smokies after pitching a scoreless fifth. He followed Dae-Eun Rhee who went 4 and 1/3 while allowing six hits, four earned runs (five total) and two walks. Rhee struck out five, allowed one home run and did not earn a decision. Jeff Lorick also pitched for the Smokies. He allowed two runs (one earned) over 2 and 2/3, but did not give up the late lead. Lorick walked two and struck out three in his appearance.
The Smokies opened the high scoring affair by taking advantage of an early error in the second. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run single from John Andreoli in the second. Dustin Geiger led off the second with a ground ball to third that was misplayed by Chattanooga third baseman Ryan Adams. The resulting error allowed Geiger to reach and he was joined on the bags when Rubi Silva reached on a one-out walk. A single to center from Jeudy Valdez moved the runners up and Andreoli brought them in with a single up the middle.
The Lookouts bounced right back in the bottom of the second and scored their first run of the game. It came on a solo home run to center from Scott Schebler. It was Schebler’s sixth home run of the season and his 18th run batted in.
Rhee lost the 2-1 advantage in the fourth after allowing four runs and four hits in the inning. He struck out Chris Reed to start the frame, but then gave up a double to Darnell Sweeney and hit Adams with a pitch. Jeremy Hazelbaker then ripped a triple to right that scored two and the Lookouts moved in front 3-2.
A single through shortstop by O’Koyea Dickson scored Hazelbaker to extend the lead to 4-2. Erisbel Arruebarrena capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Dickson.
Reed gave up both second innings runs, but kept the Smokies at bay while his offense rallied to take the lead. That all changed in the sixth inning when the Smokies rallied for five runs off Reed, Stem and reliever Mike Thomas.
Geiger started the inning with a leadoff walk and was joined on the bags when Rubi Silva reached on a one-out single to center. Reed then walked Jeudy Valdez and Smokies’ manager Buddy Bailey called on Giansanti to bat in place of Kirk. Chattanooga manager Razor Shines countered by pulling Reed and bringing in Stem. Giansanti promptly greeted him to the game with a two-run single and the Smokies pulled within one at 5-4. Tennessee then took the lead when Bruno connected on a two-run double to right that plated both Valdez and Giansanti.
Bruno’s double put the Smokies on top again at 6-5. Stem was pulled from the game a batter later after Kris Bryant reached on a fielding error. A run scored on the misplay and the Smokies increased the lead to 7-5.
Thomas finished the sixth and walked Geiger with the bases loaded to score another Tennessee run to make it 8-5. Geiger walked twice in the sixth and the Smokies scored six runs on four hits.
Stem did not record an out and allowed all three inherited runners to score. Reed was charged will all three of those runs and finished the night with five runs (three earned) allowed over 5 and 1/3 innings. He walked four, struck out eight and gave up three hits in the game. Stem allowed three hits and three other runs without retiring a single batter.
The Lookouts answered Tennessee’s six run sixth with two of their own in the bottom side of the same inning. Jeff Lorick started the sixth on the mound out of the pen for the Smokies. He started the frame by walking Chattanooga catcher J.C. Boscan, but then retired Noel Cuevas on a fly out to Jae-Hoon Ha. Pinch hitter Brian Cavazos-Galvez then hit a ground rule double to right. Boscan advanced to third on the double and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Sweeney to cut the lead to 8-6. Chattanooga picked up their second run of the inning when Cavazos-Galvez scored on a fielding error at third by Bryant. Lorick eventually got out of the inning with a strikeout of Hazelbaker.
The Smokies lead the series 3-0 and send Pierce Johnson to the mound on Saturday for game 4 of the series. Johnson is matched up against Anders Santiago who starts for the Lookouts. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET at AT&T Field.
The Smokies return home to Smokies Park on Monday, May 5th for a five-game series against the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The homestand is highlighted by a McGhee Tyson Airport Low Fare Monday, the first Frontline Heartgard Tail-Waggin’ Tuesday, All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and a RAM Friday featuring Fireworks!
Visit smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300 for ticket information.