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Photo courtesy of Meeks & Norris / Mark Kolozsvary will play this week's homestand for the Chattanooga Lookouts before joining Team USA and competing later this month at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Chattanooga Lookouts are returning to AT&T Field as the first-place Lookouts, having taken five of six contests from former division leader Birmingham last week to establish a three-game lead over the Barons.

Chattanooga (31-22) will host Tennessee (21-31), which resides in the Double-A South's North Division cellar, Tuesday night in the first of six matchups. The completion of this series will mark the halfway point for Double-A South teams in their respective 120-game schedules, and it's the final homestand for Lookouts catcher Mark Kolozsvary before he represents Team USA in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"For me, I feel like it hasn't really set in," Kolozsvary said on a recent Zoom call. "All the guys on the team keep telling me, 'You're going to be hanging out with other Olympic athletes,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's kind of true.' So it hasn't quite set in for me yet, but I think I'm on my way there for sure."

The Lookouts will be competing at an AT&T Field at 70% capacity — a limit of roughly 4,500 spectators — again this week, with the ballpark's schedule including Thirsty Thursday, fireworks following Friday's game, Used Car Saturday and Sunday's Kids Run the Bases.

Kolozsvary is hitting .260 through 29 games this season with three home runs and 26 RBIs, and he also has been helpful when working with the touted pitching likes of Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft.

"We've been together since 2019, and I've seen Mark's progress," Lookouts manager Ricky Gutierrez said. "I'm just so proud of him. His work ethic is unbelievable. As a catcher, you have to do your catching, and you have to hit also, and he doesn't lack for either one of them. He's at the park early preparing for the game and for the other team, and then he gets his personal work in.

"He's a big part of why our record is what it is right now and where we're at in our division, and I'm happy that he has this moment."

Kolozsvary, the catcher on the University of Florida's 2017 national championship team, quickly listed swimmer Michael Phelps as the Olympian he followed most while growing up. When asked which current Olympian he most wanted to encounter, Kolozsvary cited his love for golf and picked Justin Thomas.

Of course, Kolozsvary is well aware that his impending trip will be more than mingling and sightseeing.

"To bring home the gold is something that's pretty cool to say you're trying to do," he said. "I was a part of some pretty big games in college, and I think this is something that would be pretty cool to accomplish."

Ashcraft honored

Ashcraft, who is 3-0 with an 0.00 earned run average through his first three starts with the Lookouts and was named Monday as the Double-A South Pitcher of the Week for a second consecutive week. He is scheduled to start Saturday's game.

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

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