Chattanooga Lookouts squeeze in shortened win

Chattanooga Lookouts squeeze in shortened win

July 5th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - Professional

Chattanooga Lookouts right-handed pitcher Zach Lee (18) pitches against the Jacksonville Suns at AT&T Field on Thursday.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga Lookouts broke out camouflage jerseys during Thursday night's game against Jacksonville at AT&T Field.

They prevailed before needing scuba gear.

On a Fourth of July that lived up to its wet forecast, the Lookouts beat the Suns and the rain by taking a 2-0 lead before play was halted with one out in the top of the sixth inning. The game was called after the rain offered no signs of relenting, giving Chattanooga a shortened triumph before a crowd of 3,862.

The attendance was the smallest for an Independence Day matchup in AT&T Field's 14-year history, with the audience consisting of people who purchased tickets long before this week's gloomy plight.

"This week is usually a great week for us, but everybody woke up Monday morning knowing there was a 95 percent chance of rain on the Fourth," Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo said. "As crazy as the weather was all day long, we never seriously considered canceling it. The weather kept splitting around Chattanooga all day."

Chattanooga improved to 8-8 in the Southern League's second half and to 43-43 overall.

The Lookouts took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ozzie Martinez hit a one-out double into the right-field corner and scored on J.T. Wise's two-out double down the left-field line. They made it 2-0 in the third when Rafael Ynoa led off with a single to center and wound up scoring on a Wise groundout.

Chattanooga starting pitcher Zach Lee gave up hits to the first two Jacksonville batters he faced but did not allow a third until there were two out in the fourth. He allowed only the three hits and did not give up a walk while tallying five strikeouts.

Umbrellas went up in the third inning and again in the fifth, and grounds crew members applied dirt around home plate and on the mound between the fifth and sixth innings. The teams played for just 88 minutes, and the game was called at 8:32 after a 46-minute delay.

Lookouts staff members placed a tarp over the infield when the rain arrived but peeled some of it back at 9:15 so fireworks could be shot off from the outfield, much to the delight of the remaining fans.

"Playing tonight was so much better for the team and for the staff and for the city," Mozingo said. "These were the only Fourth of July fireworks, so I'm glad we went through with it."

The previous low for an Independence Day game at AT&T's 6,340-seat facility was last year's crowd of 5,067, which came at the tail end of a long stretch in which temperatures neared or surpassed 100 degrees every day. The Fourth of July games (some of which have been held July 3) sold out each of the first 12 years at AT&T.

Chris Reed (3-7, 3.51 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Sam Dyson (3-7, 2.74) scheduled for the Suns. Fireworks will follow tonight's game as well.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.