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Rough start sinks Trash Pandas in 9-6 loss

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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee – A five-run first inning from the Chattanooga Lookouts was too much for Rocket City Trash Pandas could overcome, as a late comeback couldn’t climb them all the way back into the game in a 9-6 loss on Tuesday night in the opener of a six-game series at AT&T Field.

The Trash Pandas threatened to start the scoring in the first, putting runners on the corners with one out against Chattanooga starter Connor Phillips. But they were unable to get a run across as Jeremiah Jackson flew out to shallow right field and Kevin Maitan struck out to end the frame.

The Lookouts immediately capitalized in their first turn at the plate off Rocket City starter Adam Seminaris, as the first five hitters all reached base with a single before a walk, another single, and a throwing error on Seminaris increased the Chattanooga lead to 5-0 with two outs. Sean McLaughlin was called on from the Trash Pandas bullpen and got the final out of the inning. Seminaris (L, 3-4) was only able to get two outs, giving up five runs, four earned, on six hits with one walk and one strikeout to suffer his fourth Double-A loss.

McLaughlin kept the deficit at five with a scoreless second. Rehabbing Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jimmy Herget came in for the third and induced an inning-ending double play to finish a scoreless inning. Herget issued a leadoff walk to Daniel Vellojin in the fourth, and that would the final batter he faced. Vellojin later came around to score on a bases-loaded walk to T.J. Hopkins from reliever Jack Dashwood, increasing the lead to 6-0. In one inning plus, Herget allowed one earned run with two walks in his second rehab appearance for Rocket City.

The Trash Pandas finally broke through in the top of the fifth, cutting the deficit in half with three runs on Ryan Aguilar’s RBI double to center, Maitan’s RBI single to center, then Aguilar came home to score on a wild pitch to make it a 6-3 game.

Chattanooga responded with two runs against Dashwood in the fifth, restoring the five-run lead at 8-3. They got one more in the seventh against Luis Ledo on Mike Siani’s RBI single, capping the scoring for the home team at 9-3 Lookouts. Kolton Ingram kept the score at 9-3 with a clean bottom of the eighth.

Rocket City again threatened in the ninth, but it proved to be too little too late. Zach Humphreys drove in the first run of the ninth with a double off the left field wall to plate Braxton Martinez, who began the inning with a single. A fielding error by first baseman Michael De Leon allowed another run to come around and score before Jeremiah Jackson’s sacrifice fly scored Humphreys with the final run of the night.

From the top of the order, Preston Palmeiro led the way by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two walks while Aguilar hit a pair of doubles and drove in two. Humphreys added two hits and two runs as well as the top three hitters in the Rocket City lineup combined to go 6-for-13 with five of the six runs scored.

The Trash Pandas (52-39, 11-11 second half) continue their series against the Lookouts (39-52, 5-17 second half) on Wednesday night. First pitch at AT&T Field is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.

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