Chattanooga Dominates in Extras to Steal Game 5
For the third straight game, neither Birmingham nor Chattanooga wasted much time cracking the score column. Emilio Vargas was not to blame, though. After striking out the first two Lookouts of the game, Birmingham's starter watched as Elly De La Cruz slapped yet another double that yet again surpassed a
For the third straight game, neither Birmingham nor Chattanooga wasted much time cracking the score column. Emilio Vargas was not to blame, though. After striking out the first two Lookouts of the game, Birmingham's starter watched as Elly De La Cruz slapped yet another double that yet again surpassed a 110-mile-per-hour exit velocity. Even so, Vargas deserved a scotch-free inning, but when Cruz swiped third, Evan Skoug botched the showdown, allowing the fast 20-year-old to scurry on home.
In the bottom half, Birmingham swiftly went down in order, but in the following inning, they responded in a big, big way. First off, Yoelqui Cespedes smacked his 12th home run of the season. Doing so evened up the game at one apiece, but Craig Dedelow ended that tie in the best way possible. With one out, Chattanooga's Connor Phillips walked Moises Castillo and Alex Destino. Evan Skouged lined out, but Rodriguez smoked a line drive single, much too fast for Castillo to score. Then, with two down, in a 3-1 count, Dedelow jumped on a juicy fastball and smacked a grand slam!
Phillips failed to finish that frame, but his replacement locked things down immediately. Alongside a dealing and wheeling Emilio Vargas, things picked up for a handful of innings for truly the first time all series. Specifically, Chattanooga's Evan Kravetz covered 3.1 IP and allowed just four baserunners, three walks, and one hit. Over time, though, his counterpart, Vargas, came to a complete halt after going so strong.
In the fifth, Vargas surrendered consecutive base hits and a four-pitch walk to quickly load the bases. Nevertheless, Magic City kept the hurler in, and it bit them in the butt. Ivan Johnson of the Lookouts roped a two-RBI double over the right-fielder's head, ending an otherwise great night for Vargas. However, matters only worsened from there. Yoelvin Silven punched out the first batter, allowed a single to the second, but got a groundout to earn the inning's second out.
Step in De La Cruz, and he pimped a 425 foot, 111 mph two-run home run with ease. Doing so ended the 5-5 tie, but the Lookouts were still not done. Another single and double increased their lead to three, as Chattanooga posted a seven-run frame to claim an 8-5 lead. Birmingham punched right back, though, as Evan Skoug crushed one onto the right-field batting cages for a two-run blast, his eighth of the season.
After a scoreless top seven from Luke Shilling, the heat of the Barons' order approached. In one of the most surprising moments all season, Yoelqui Cespedes poked an outside fastball over the right-field fence by just two rows. This ball screamed everything but home run, but Cespedes showed off his raw power to reach 13 long balls on the season. With the game tied going into the eighth, neither side pulled away in regulation.
Finally, though, the Lookouts left the Barons in their dust. Kaleb Roper entered and almost immediately ran into problems. The leadoff batter drilled one right back at him to put runners on the corners. Then, a groundout gave Chattanooga their first run in extras, but wait, there's more. A sacrifice-flyout soon after increased their run total to ten. However, the real breaking point came when Christian Encarnacion-Strand obliterated one 430 feet.
All things said, the Lookouts' five-piece in the tenth was much too hefty to overcome, and yet another devastating loss in this series. Ultimately, Birmingham fell by a score of 14-9.