It's a tradition for fireworks to be shot off at AT&T Field to celebrate the Fourth of July. The Lookouts' Luis Nunez provided a nice pre-show during Tuesday night's game.
The Lookouts scored 11 unanswered runs, capped by an eighth-inning grand slam by Nunez, in defeating the Tennessee Smokies 11-6 in the rubber game of the Southern League series in front of a crowd of 5,008. Chattanooga rallied from a 6-0 deficit with 15 hits and excellent relief pitching.
Nunez batted in eight runs, which tied the team record set by Mike Frank in 1998. Chattanooga improved to 9-4 for the second half of the season and 41-40 overall. The Smokies fell to 6-7 and 41-42.
"We just play hard and continue to keep playing," Nunez said. "We kept our heads up when we were down and didn't get down on ourselves. We're on the road for six [games] after tonight, so it's important for us to play hard and keep playing good."
Chattanooga had to scratch and claw its way back into the contest after Zach Lee, making his second pitching start with the club, was tagged for seven hits and six runs in three innings. Four relievers combined to pitch six scoreless innings with only two hits allowed.
Javier Solano, who relieved Lee, pitched three scoreless.
"That's one role that most people overlook," manager Carlos Subero said. "Javier's performance gave us an opportunity to come back in the game. I told the guys that since he gave us that chance, let's back him up."
Chattanooga scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh. Nick Buss had a leadoff triple and scored when the relay throw to third skipped into the bleachers and out of play. Nunez then had a two-run single, later scoring on a hit by Jake Lemmerman.
The Lookouts tied the game an inning later on a bases-loaded walk that scored Buss. Casey Weathers then relieved Kevin Rhoderick, and his second pitch to Nunez was crushed over the left-field wall for the icer.
Buss finished 4-for-6, while Nunez was 3-for-4. Blake Smith and Brahiam Maldonado each had three hits as well.
The Lookouts now go on the road for three games in Huntsville followed by three against the Smokies.
"We've been good on the road the past couple of seasons," Subero said. "We're going to go to Huntsville and take care of business; then we have to play Tennessee again. If we're consistent and we execute, we'll be fine."