Trash Pandas winning streak snapped with 3-1 loss
Rocket City drops finale with Chattanooga
By Aaron Cheris
MADISON – The Rocket City Trash Pandas had their eight-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Field, falling 3-1 to the Chattanooga Lookouts in the finale of their six-game series.
Despite the loss, the Trash Pandas earned a series win, taking five of six games from their North Division foes. Rocket City still maintains the best home record in the Southern League at 30-12.
Chattanooga opened the scoring in the top of the second when Nick Quintana walked, James Free doubled, and Allan Cerda walked to load the bases against Trash Pandas lefty Adam Seminaris. T.J. Hopkins lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score the first run before Ivan Johnson singled home another, putting the visitors up 2-0. Seminaris worked around singles in each of the next two innings to keep the deficit at two.
In the bottom of the fourth, Torii Hunter Jr. crushed a high fly ball off the wall in right-center for a leadoff triple against Chattanooga starter Eduardo Salazar. Hunter Jr. came home to get Rocket City on the board on Kevin Maitan’s ground out, cutting the Chattanooga lead to 2-1.
Seminars got some help from his defense in the fifth as Jeremiah Jackson made a diving stop to save a hit and get a force out at second, keeping the score at 2-1. A pair of one-out walks in the sixth brough an end to Seminaris’ start. Sean McLaughlin entered and struck out the first two hitters he faced to end the inning and keep the deficit at one. Seminaris finished his start by giving up two runs on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 5.1 innings to keep the game close.
Rocket City looked to even the score in the sixth as Maitan reached on a two-out double to right. But Salazar ended a solid start by getting Jordyn Adams to ground out.
From the bullpens, McLaughlin and Chattanooga’s Ryan Nutof each pitched a clean seventh. Luke Murphy did the same for Rocket City in the eighth and Nutof held the lead with a scoreless bottom of the frame.In the ninth, the Lookouts got an insurance run on a wild pitch from Kolton Ingram, taking a 3-1 lead. Closer Pedro Garcia (S, 6) held the Trash Pandas scoreless in the ninth to finish the win and earn the save for the visitors.
At the plate, Soto went 2-for-2 with two walks for the Trash Pandas to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He has reached base in his last 10 plate appearances dating back to Friday night. Maitan also added a pair of hits for Rocket City, going 2-for-4 with a double and the lone RBI.
Salazar earned the win for the Lookouts, allowing one run on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Nutof picked up a hold with two scoreless relief innings, striking out three.
The Trash Pandas (50-31, 9-3 second half) hit the road to begin a six-game series with the Mississippi Braves (35-38, 8-4 second half) on Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. at Trustmark Park. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.