Smokies drop finale, series to Lookouts

Tennessee Smokies’ Vimael Machin follows through on his swing after making contact during Tuesday’s game against Chattanooga at Smokies Stadium.

KODAK — What looked to be a pitchers’ duel early broke open for the visiting Chattanooga Lookouts late.

The Tennessee Smokies dropped the final game of their five-game series with their visitors from middle Tennessee 6-1 Tuesday night in front of 4,249 fans at Smokies Stadium.

The Smokies (30-34) managed just four hits in the loss and dropped the series 2-3 to Chattanooga (35-28).

“It didn’t work for us offensively,” Smokies manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “We had that rough inning in the eighth there that really put us in the hole. Once we got there, it was tough. They were pitching us effectively. We just couldn’t do much.”

While Tennessee might not have done much, it did strike first. In the bottom of the third, outfielder Charcer Burks led off with a base hit. A sac bunt from pitcher Cory Abbott put Burks on second and with two outs on the board, May’s Southern League Player of the Month Vimael Machin knocked in Burks with a single into center field.

The lead didn’t last through the next half inning as Mitch Nay hit a two-out double in the top of the fourth and was sent home with an RBI double from Brantley Bell to tie the game 1-1.

The Lookouts started to pull away in the fifth thanks to a two-run homer from T.J. Friedl. Two outs later Abbott’s day ended on the hill for the Smokies. Abbott (4-3) would eventually be stuck with the loss, going 5.2 innings with eight hits, three runs, three walks and seven strikeouts.

The game remained tight until the eighth in spite of the Smokies’ issues at the plate. Finally, the Lookouts surged ahead with RBIs from Michael Beltre, Alfredo Rodriguez and Taylor Trammell. With the bats silent all game, Tennessee had no chance to stage a comeback.

The only baserunner the Smokies managed to put on the bags in the final two frames was Roberto Caro, who led off the eighth with a walk.

For the Smokies, it’s a game that needs to go in the rearview mirror in a hurry.

“It’s already behind us,” Gonzalez said. “We never take this stuff to heart. We play every day and there’s going to be games like where this happens. We’re getting on the bus and playing another five somewhere else. It’s the same approach we take no matter what.”

Johendi Jiminian pocketed the win on the mound for the Lookouts. He went six innings with three hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts.

Tennessee hits the road for a long trip to Pensacola, Fla. to take on the Blue Wahoos beginning tonight at 7:35 p.m. before the All-Star break that will feature seven different Smokies players after Wyatt Short and Roberto Caro were added to the Southern League North roster Tuesday. They join Abbott, Machin, Craig Brooks, Tyson Miller and P.J. Higgins on the All-Star roster.

The Smokies will return to the friendly confines of Smokies Stadium to kick off the second half of the Southern League season with a five-game homestand against the Montgomery Biscuits on June 20.