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Trash Pandas top Lookouts 8-7 in opener

By Aaron Cheris

MADISON – A pair of big innings provided the offense, and the Rocket City Trash Pandas held on at the end for an 8-7 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts in the opener of a six-game series on Wednesday night at Toyota Field.

Making his team-leading 19th start for the Trash Pandas, Coleman Crow began the night in fine form, working around traffic on the base paths in the first and second inning. Chattanooga broke the scoreless deadlock in the third, with Mike Siani taking a walk and Matt McLain following with a two-run homer to left, giving the visitors the early edge.

The Trash Pandas responded in the bottom of the fourth with a big inning against Chattanooga starter Carson Spiers. Zach Neto got it started with a one-out double into the left field corner. Preston Palmeiro drove Neto in with an RBI single to right and advanced to second on an error. Kevin Maitan tied the game with a ground ball single through the right side. Bryce Teodosio connected with the Trash Pandas’ fifth hit in a row, an RBI single to put the home team ahead 3-2. Aaron Whitefield walked to load the bases. With two outs, Livan Soto delivered a clutch single to center, scoring Teodosio and Whitefield to cap a five-run inning for Rocket City.

Chattanooga got a run back in the fifth on Siani’s home run to right off Crow. That would be all the righty gave up. Over five innings, Crow (W, 9-3) allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts to earn his Southern League leading ninth win of the season. With Brett Kerry on the mound in the sixth, a Rocket City error plated another Chattanooga run to make it a one-run game at 5-4.

The Trash Pandas fought back to extend the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Maitan led off with a single and Jordyn Adams walked to put two on with one out. In his first at-bat of the night, Ryan Aguilar then grounded a single to right, allowing Maitan to score. But the ball rolled through Allan Cerda’s legs in right, letting Adams score. With the ball rolling to the wall in right, Aguilar circled the bases and dove in head first at home for a little league home run, making it an 8-4 game.

Ben Joyce protected the lead in the eighth with a one, two, three inning, striking out the first two hitters he faced with a fastball that reached as high as 101 miles per hour. In the ninth, Chattanooga made a comeback with three runs against Eric Torres. But the closer rebounded to induce a pop up from Alex McGarry to end the game with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

At the plate, Maitan led the way by going 2-for-3 with two runs while Soto was the only Rocket City player to record two RBI.

The Trash Pandas (62-47, 21-19 second half) continue their series against the Lookouts (47-62, 13-27 second half) with a single-admission doubleheader on Thursday, with the first game at Toyota Field beginning at 4:05 p.m. Both games of the doubleheader will be seven-inning contests. Tickets for August 18 are valid for both games of the doubleheader. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The games will also be televised locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV.

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