KODAK — Every pitcher that took the mound brought his best stuff, but it was the arms of the Tennessee Smokies that won the day. Scott Effross and Michael Rucker teamed up to shutout the Chattanooga Lookouts in a 1-0 Smokies victory Sunday in front of 2,988 fans at Smokies Stadium.
“It was a pitcher’s duel,” Smokies manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “For us to have two guys from the bullpen, Effross and Rucker, do what they did was fantastic. No runs and really shut them down.”
With a total of 10 hits and one walk between the two teams, its final finishing time of 2:10 was the shortest nine-inning game for Tennessee this season.
The Smokies (29-33) came into Sunday’s game on a six-game skid. To overcome it, they would have to make every play on defense, on the hill and at the plate Sunday in a game where every at-bat and pitch mattered. “For these guys to really shut them down, it was huge,” Gonzalez said. “That’s a good hitting team. We had three hits and just had the one key hit. It goes to show how important pitching is. The key was no walks. We’ve been hurt in the past with some walks.”
The hit came in the bottom of the fifth. Charcer Burks led off the inning with a single into left field and was batted to second by a ground out by Jesse Hodges. With two outs on the board, Gioskar Amaya put a line drive through the five hole and brought Burks across the plate.
“Amaya came through,” Gonzalez said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t play all the time, but he showed up. But in some good at-bats all the way through.”
Defensively, the Smokies were clean from the opening pitch. Chattanooga (34-27) was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and though they picked up seven hits, all seven of the men were left stranded on base.
Effross (1-2) picked up his first win of the season with the effort. He went five innings with four hits, no walks and no strikeouts. Rucker notched his first save with four innings, three hits, no walks and five strikeouts.
Packy Naughton (2-2) was stuck with the loss for the Lookouts in spite of just surrendering three hits in six innings. He gave up one run, one walk and notched three strikeouts.
As tough a day as it was at the plate for both teams, one guy was on fire, for all the good it did. Chattanooga’s Narciso Crook picked up nearly half the team’s base hits, going 3-for-4 on the day.
Tennessee and the Lookouts pick up game four of their five-game series tonight inside Smokies Stadium with the first pitch set for 7 p.m.
Lookouts 7, Smokies 5
A pair of two-run homers by Chattanooga in the seventh lifted the Lookouts over the Tennessee Smokies at Smokies Stadium on Saturday.
In a back-and-forth contest, the Lookouts picked up the first run of the game in the first inning off a Jose Siri single to center field to score T.J. Friedl.
A pair of Smokies runs in the bottom half of the first put the Smokies ahead. Charcer Burks walked to lead off and advanced to third courtesy of a Jared Young double. Eddy Martinez knocked the first run in with an RBI ground out. During the next at bat, P.J. Higgins handed the Smokies with a 2-1 lead after he singled to score Young.
After being named to the Southern League All-Star game, starter Tyson Miller surrendered three runs on nine scattered hits over five innings. Fellow SL All-Star, Higgins went 2-4 with two RBIs.
Chattanooga responded with a pair of their own runs in the third. Taylor Trammell and Cassidy Brown both recorded RBI-singles to regain the Lookouts lead at 3-2.
Once again, Martinez and Higgins had an answer for the Lookouts offense. With two outs, back-to-back doubles from Young and then Martinez tied the game up at 3-3. Picking up where he left off in his last at bat, Higgins delivered another lead for Tennessee off a single to score Martinez.
Young added a fifth run on a ground ball RBI, which would be the first of 15 straight batters to be retired, in the bottom of the fifth to give the Smokies some extra breathing room.
The Lookouts did their damage in the top of the seventh. A two-run blast from off Mitch Nay, his sixth of the season, tied the game up at 5, and then Cassidy Brown went deep for the first time this season off Jordan Minch (L, 5-3) to put the Lookouts ahead 7-5.
Cory Thompson (W, 1-0) acquired his first win of the season with a perfect sixth inning while Joel Kuhnel (S, 10) picked up his 10th save.