Thursday night marked the 136th scheduled game of the season for the Chattanooga Lookouts and the 66th at AT&T Field, but there was something very different about it.
"There is a vibe in the air," Lookouts shortstop Corey Seager said. "Everybody is on their game. Everybody is ready and seems to have a little more energy."
Nobody was on his game more than Lookouts starting pitcher Andres Santiago, who threw a no-hitter to lead Chattanooga to a 1-0 victory over Tennessee before an announced crowd of 2,445. Santiago struck out 12 Smokies and faced the minimum, allowing a one-out walk to Christian Villanueva in the eighth inning before getting a 6-4-3 double play.
The 10th Lookouts no-hitter in history was the first in a Chattanooga stadium in the modern era (since 1976).
Chattanooga got the only run it needed in the second inning, when Chris O'Brien hit a two-out home run to right field.
The Lookouts improved to 32-32 and took over sole possession of first place in the Southern League's North Division for the first time all season. Chattanooga went 26-44 in the first half and was 14-25 in the second half and 7 1/2 games back at the start of August.
"There is always a shot in baseball," first baseman O'Koyea Dickson said. "You never know what baseball is going to feed you day in and day out, but you prepare and get ready. I'm happy with the character of this team and how it came together."
Said right fielder Scott Schebler: "We have a good talent group here, and now we've put it together. When we put it together, we're a really good team."
The Smokies dropped to 32-34 with their seventh consecutive defeat and must win three of the next four to win the division. That could be quite a chore against the Lookouts, whose lineup has not been ravaged by promotions.
"With the lineup we put on the field tonight, every starter other than Corey Seager opened the season here," manager Razor Shines said. "It's the same lineup minus Corey Seager, and I'm very proud of that."
Nick Struck (5-6, 5.22 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight's game for the Lookouts, with Corey Black (6-7, 3.26) scheduled for the Smokies.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...