Chris Withrow has a long season to forget about a long night.
In his first opportunity to put a disappointing 2010 behind him, Withrow was rocked during Thursday night’s season opener at AT&T Field as the Chattanooga Lookouts fell 12-4 to the Tennessee Smokies. The 22-year-old right-handed pitcher allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings.
“I told Chris that this was the worst game he was going to have all year,” Lookouts first-year pitching coach Chuck Crim said. “He went out and threw five unbelievable innings his last outing in spring training. Chris definitely showed some good stuff at times tonight, but when he missed they let him know it.”
The Smokies pounded out 17 hits in a game that followed a ceremonial first pitch by Nick Dobbs, the son of 1909 Lookouts manager John Dobbs.
Withrow, who had a team-high 27 starts for the Lookouts a year ago, began last season as the No. 2 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization according to Baseball America. He went 4-9 with a 5.97 earned run average but remains the No. 4 organizational prospect.
“I was up in the zone and wasn’t executing pitches when I needed to,” Withrow said. “You put this behind you and get back to work.”
Withrow’s first inning went quickly courtesy of a double play, but his second inning was marred by five singles, three walks and a double as Tennessee bolted to a 4-0 lead. His third inning began with Matt Spencer launching a home run over the right-field pavilion.
The Lookouts were held hitless until Withrow singled to right with two out in the third, and they scored their first runs of the season in the fourth when Pedro Baez’s two-out double to left-center brought home Jaime Pedroza and Corey Smith to make it 5-2. Chattanooga pulled within 5-3 in the fifth when Ivan Ochoa doubled to right, advanced to third on a David Pfeiffer sacrifice and scored on a Brad Coon groundout.
Pfeiffer worked three innings of relief and allowed one hit before being replaced by Justin Miller, who gave up seven runs on seven hits in an inning.
The Lookouts got within 5-4 in the seventh when Beaz drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on Matt Wallach’s double to left-center and scored on Wilberto Ortiz’s sacrifice fly to center. Tennessee erupted for three in the eighth on the strength of a Rebel Ridling homer and a Brett Jackson triple.
Thursday night’s attendance was an impressive 4,791.
“It’s always good to get back into it,” Smith said after going 2-for-4. “The first day you get guys a little bit more aggressive than they want to be, but the guys will bring it back down to reality tomorrow.”
Michael Antonini is scheduled to start tonight’s 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Rafael Dolis scheduled for the Smokies.
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 ...