The Chattanooga Lookouts began the 2012 season the same way they ended 2011 -- losing to the Tennessee Smokies.
Justin Bour's home run to right field in the eighth inning enabled the Smokies to pull away for a 4-1 victory on a damp Thursday night at AT&T Field. Tennessee swept the Lookouts in three games last September in the divisional round of the Southern League playoffs.
"This is going to play out over a season and not one game," Lookouts first baseman Brian Cavazos-Galvez said. "We need to get our offense going a little bit, and I don't think the 12 hits they got shows how well our pitchers did."
Chattanooga's season opener was delayed nearly an hour by rain and drew an announced attendance of 3,137.
Lookouts starting pitcher Allen Webster, the No. 2 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization according to Baseball America, was pulled an out into the fourth inning. Webster threw 76 pitches, just 39 of them strikes, and allowed seven hits and five walks.
"I just didn't have fastball command," Webster said. "This being the opener didn't affect me at all. I've just got to get ready for the next one."
Webster got out of trouble in the first inning when a base-running gaffe by Jae-Hoon Ha resulted in the third out. He recovered from loading the bases with nobody out in the second with a strikeout and a double play, but the Smokies weren't so kind in the third.
Logan Watkins singled to center with one out, stole second and scored the game's first run when Ha doubled to left-center. Bour followed with a single to left to make it 2-0.
"I thought he was going to be better, but with this being opening night he was a little amped up and had a lack of command," Lookouts pitching coach Chuck Crim said. "Any time a guy pitches opening night, he tends to put a little bit more pressure on himself. Sometimes you never really settle in."
The Lookouts benefited from an error and a hit batter to load the bases with nobody out in the sixth, and they pulled within 2-1 on a groundout RBI by Cavazos-Galvez. Kyle Russell was intentionally walked to load the bases again, but Pedro Baez and Blake Smith struck out to end the inning.
"We didn't get into too many of those situations tonight," Cavazos-Galvez said.
Ethan Martin is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Trey McNutt scheduled for the Smokies. A fireworks show will follow.
Pitcher Nate Eovaldi, who made six starts for the Dodgers last season and appeared in 10 games overall, has been optioned to Chattanooga despite a stellar showing in big-league camp. In 15 2/3 innings this spring, Eovaldi had a 1.72 ERA.
Crim said Eovaldi will start Monday night's series finale.
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 ...