Chattanooga's Ozzie Martinez made the most of his one at-bat Friday at AT&T Field.
Martinez came in to play third base in the seventh inning as part of a double switch in the Lookouts' Southern League baseball game against the Tennessee Smokies. Batting in the No. 9 spot, Martinez delivered a tiebreaking single in the bottom of the inning that lifted Chattanooga past the Smokies 8-7.
It was the first victory in the second half of the season for the Lookouts, who wore purple jerseys symbolizing Alzheimer's disease awareness. Tennessee had won the first two games of the five-game series, which continues with tonight's game at 7:15.
Tennessee tied the back-and-forth game with three runs in the top of the seventh off Lookouts reliever Hector Nelo.
Miguel Rojas led off the bottom of the inning with a double off the left-field wall and one out later stole third. After a walk to catcher Jan Vazquez, Martinez hit a sinking line drive into left field. The Smokies' Anthony Giansanti charged in and made a diving attempt to catch it but was unable to come up with the ball.
"He likes to throw a lot of sliders," Martinez said of reliever Yeiper Castillo, who fell to 0-2 with the loss. "I saw a slider. It was a little bit down. The contact was not good, but it was a base hit."
Although Martinez didn't start, he didn't exactly step into the batter's box cold like a pinch-hitter. He said it helped that he got to play a half inning defensively, and he did have an assist for one of the outs. He just wished the half inning hadn't been as long as it was.
"You have to do anything to help the team win," Martinez said. "You play hard no matter what, whether you're hitting or playing defense."
Chattanooga scored single runs in the second and third innings, but Tennessee erased the deficit with a three-run fourth and tacked on another run in the fifth.
For a while it looked as though center fielder Joe Pederson might be the night's hero. He already had singled in a run in the third before his three-run blast with two out in the fifth gave the lead back to the Lookouts, 5-4. They added two runs in the sixth aided by two errors.
Brian Cavazos-Galvez paced the Lookouts by going 4-for-5 with a run scored. Rojas was 3-for-4, inluding a triple to go with his double, and he scored twice.
Nelo (5-1) was the winning pitcher despite the rough outing. He registered a strikeout of Christian Villanueva with two out in the seventh, but it was on a wild pitch that allowed the Smokies third baseman to reach first, and Giansanti followed with a tying two-run double.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.