Wild comeback leads Trash Pandas to first win
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee – Behind an incredible 10-run outburst late in the game, the Rocket City Trash Pandas earned their first win in franchise history, 10-7 over the Chattanooga Lookouts in the second game of their doubleheader on Thursday night at AT&T Field.
The Rocket City win followed a 6-3 Chattanooga win in the opener as the Double-A South foes split their first twin bill of the season.
Chattanooga used home runs from Mark Kolozsvary and Narciso Crook as well as a couple RBI singles to jump in front 7-0 against Rocket City starter Packy Naughton after four innings in the nightcap.
The Trash Pandas then flipped the script. David MacKinnon drove in the first run for the visitors with an RBI single to left. Michael Stefanic followed with a two-run double, trimming the Rocket City deficit to four runs after five innings.
In the sixth, walks by Ibandel Isabel and Izzy Wilson put two on with one out. Michael Cruz then made it a one-run game with a three-run home run down the right field line. Two hit-by-pitches and a walk subsequently loaded the bases for Orlando Martinez. He drew a walk of his own to tie the game 7-7.
Two hitters later, Ray-Patrick Didder laced a triple into the gap in right-center to clear the bases and give the Trash Pandas their first lead of the night at 10-7.
From there, Connor Higgins threw 2.0 scoreless innings with three strikeouts to finish the Rocket City victory. Kieran Lovegrove (1-0, 0.00) earned the win with a scoreless bottom of the fifth inning while Higgins earned the save for his strong outing.
Didder and Cruz each had three RBI for the Trash Pandas in the win while Stefanic went 3-for-5 with two RBI from the number two spot in the order.
In the first game, the Lookouts struck first in the third off Trash Pandas starter Kyle Tyler (0-1, 7.36) as Jose Garcia hit a two-run homer and Yoel Yanqui added a solo shot later in the inning for a 3-0 lead for the home team.
Those runs would be all that Tyler surrendered in his Double-A debut for Rocket City. Over 3.2 innings, he gave up three earned runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The three runs proved to be enough support for Chattanooga starter Nick Lodolo (1-0, 0.00). Over 5.0 scoreless innings, the lefty struck out 10 to keep the Rocket City bats at bay.
The Trash Pandas finally broke through in the sixth as Matt Jones lifted the first home run in club history, a towering solo shot to right-center, to cut the Lookouts’ lead to 3-1.
Chattanooga responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead to five against Trash Pandas reliever Hansel Rodriguez.
Rocket City rallied for two runs in the seventh on RBI singles from Wilson and Cruz to make it a 6-3 Lookouts lead. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Stefanic struck out to end the game with the tying runs on base.
The second game looked to be a repeat of the first until the Trash Pandas’ late rally turned a 7-0 deficit into a 10-7 win.
The Trash Pandas (1-2) continue their series with the Lookouts (2-1) on Friday night at AT&T Field with first pitch scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.