By Nick Roark / Smokies
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The Tennessee Smokies (36-35) defeated the Chattanooga Lookouts (35-37) 3-2 at AT&T Field Thursday night. Smokies starter Austin Kirk had his best outing for the Smokies as the lefty went 5.2 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight batters and walking four.
Catcher Chad Noble led off the top of the fifth inning and ripped a double down the left field line. After a groundout by Ronald Torreyes moved Noble to third base with one out, Kirk helped his own cause and earned the second hit of his career by smacking a RBI single to center field, scoring Noble and extending the Smokies advantage to 2-0.
Kirk worked out of trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning when the lefty allowed a leadoff walk to Miguel Rojas. That would be all the Lookouts had going in the fifth as Kirk struck out the next three batters and carried a one-hit shutout into the sixth.
The Smokies blew the game open in the top of the seventh inning. After two walks and a single loaded the bases with no outs, Lookouts reliever Kyle Cofield struck out Arimendy Alcantara. Jae-Hoon Ha followed with a RBI fielder's choice, scoring Torreyes extending the Tennessee lead to 3-0.
Chattanooga threatened in the bottom half of the eighth inning after reliever Trey McNutt gave up back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs. Brian Cavazos-Galvez put the Lookouts on the board with a RBI groundout to shortstop, cutting the Smokies lead to 3-1. McNutt induced a pop out to the first base side and fly out to right field to retire the side.
Frank Batista came on in the ninth and promptly gave up singles to the first two batters to put runners at first and second with no outs. After a sac bunt and a walk to load the bases with one out, Rafael Ynoa singled to right field, cutting the Tennessee lead to 3-2. Batista struck out Joc Pederson and Brian Cavazos-Galvez to end the threat to earn his 10th save in 11 attempts this season.
Alcantara got the Smokies on the board early after the shortstop drilled his second triple of the season to right field with one out in the first inning.
With two outs and Alcantara on third Lookouts starter Chris Reed threw a wild pitch, scoring Alcantara and giving Tennessee an early 1-0 advantage.
Tennessee will send Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.07 ERA) to the mound. Andres Santiago (3-5, 4.92 ERA) will toe the rubber for Chattanooga. First pitch at AT&T Field is set for 7:15 p.m. ET.