Lookouts finish Southern League season's first half as winners but not as division champs

Lookouts finish Southern League season's first half as winners but not as division champs

June 18th, 2018 by David Paschall in Sports - Professional

Former Chattanooga outfielder LaMonte Wade, shown in a June 4 game at AT&T Field, hit .298 and helped the Lookouts get to first place in the Southern League's North Division before being promoted to Triple-A on June 9.

Former Chattanooga outfielder LaMonte Wade, shown in a...

Photo by Erin O. Smith

The Chattanooga Lookouts had a winning first half in the Southern League, but they were never the same after the departures of infielder Nick Gordon and outfielder LaMonte Wade.

Now it's time to hit the reset button.

Chattanooga reached the midway mark with a 36-33 record, with Sunday afternoon's first-half finale in Birmingham, Alabama, scratched by inclement weather. The Lookouts finished three games back of Jackson (39-30) in the North Division, with Montgomery (37-33) edging out Chattanooga for second place.

The Lookouts had a 28-14 record, a 15-2 start to May and a five-game lead within their division on May 19, when Wade went on the disabled list with a shoulder sprain. Three days later, Gordon was promoted to Triple-A Rochester (New York).

Gordon hit .333 in 42 games for the Lookouts, while Wade, who returned from the DL for a handful of games before getting promoted to Rochester on June 9, hit .298 in 46 games.

"It definitely had an effect on us, but that's minor league baseball, and it's all a part of it," first-year Lookouts manager Tommy Watkins said Sunday by phone. "When you get guys moving up to the next level, it's a testament to the job our coaching staff has been doing here. It hurts losing those guys, but at the same time, you like to see guys move up."

The losses of Gordon and Wade followed the late-April pitching promotions of Stephen Gonsalves, who went 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in four starts, and Zack Littell, who compiled an astounding 19-1 minor-league mark last season.

Chattanooga's first half was highlighted by the performance of former Vanderbilt standout Zander Wiel, who has hit .306 in 55 games but is currently on the DL.

"Overall, I think we did OK," Watkins said. "I know we slipped at the end, but I think we're getting to a better place now."

The Lookouts are off today through Wednesday due to a break for the Southern League All-Star Game. They will begin their 70-game second half Thursday night at AT&T Field against Biloxi in what will be a rare six-game series.

Odds and ends

The Lookouts are 287-213 through 3 1/2 seasons of their affiliation with the Minnesota Twins. Chattanooga has a 32-21 record in night games so far this season but only a 4-12 mark in day games, and the Lookouts are 9-2 on Saturdays but 2-9 on Sundays. On Sunday, the Twins released pitcher Zack Jones, who went 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 appearances with the Lookouts.

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