Scotty McCreery popped the rosin bag off the back of his hand, stepped to the top of the mound at AT&T Field and wiped the rubber with his sneakers.
He looked like he had been on a mound before.
He faked shaking off the catcher twice and then rifled the ceremonial first pitch into the dirt before the Lookouts' 4-2 loss to Pensacola on Friday.
"Tonight, I was nervous as all get out," said McCreery, winner of the 2011 "American Idol" season. "Everybody I talked to said, 'Don't throw it in the dirt.' But I did."
McCreery pitched for the Garner Magnet High School (N.C.) team this past season after taking his junior year off to compete on "Idol." There's a YouTube video of a grounder bouncing up and glancing off his million-dollar throat.
"My dad pitched in college so he was like my pitching coach and he taught me all his stuff," said McCreery, whose debut album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 list. "It worked out decent, I guess."
McCreery's playing days are over except for an occasional celebrity softball game or a chance to throw out a first pitch.
"I'll always be around baseball and I love doing things like this where I can entertain fans and enjoy the game," said McCreery, who has a love for all Boston area sports teams including the Red Sox. "Country music and baseball go hand-in-hand."
McCreery spent most of Friday playing golf at The Honors Course. He said he shot in the 90s.
"That's a beautiful course and I hit some good shots," McCreery said after leading a sellout crowd of 6,372 in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." "The next time I go, I'm putting a fishing pole in the bag because they've got some big ones in there."
Lookouts starter Ethan Martin had almost as much trouble finding the strike zone as McCreery. But Martin wove his way out of trouble despite throwing 65 pitches in the first three innings.
He pitched well enough to earn the win. He allowed one run over five innings. But he walked five and struck out three. He left with the Lookouts leading 2-1.
"It was nice seeing him not have his good stuff and being able to give us five innings and put us in position to win," manager Carlos Subero said.
Martin drove in the first run himself. He bounced a chopper into center field, scoring Brahiam Maldanado.
"We were a little quiet production-wise," Subero said. "We couldn't knock their pitcher out even though we had a couple good opportunities."
Martin gave the run back when David Vidal doubled home Brodie Greene. The Lookouts took the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Rafael Ynoa singled home Nick Buss.
The Lookouts' bullpen couldn't maintain the lead. Javier Solano and Geison Aguasviva each allowed a run in the top of the seventh. Aguasviva allowed another in the top of the eighth when his throw to first missed the mark, allowing Yordanys Perez to score just as batter Brian Peacock crashed into first baseman Travis Denker.
"There was a couple bloop hits and a grounder up the middle," Subero said before a fireworks show. "We weren't able to bounce back."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...