It is hot. It is very hot.
It being the pitching staff of the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Chris Reed, Wes Roemer, Luis Vasquez and Steven Ames combined to blank the Tennessee Smokies 3-0 Sunday evening before an announced crowd of 1,954 at AT&T Field. The victory was the seventh in a row for the Lookouts, with three of them by shutout.
"It's good to see these guys come together," Lookouts manager Carlos Subero said. "It seems like we always talk about baseball being contagious, but we're doing this during the first really big heat wave we've had. They are really battling through it."
Reed's first pitch occurred with the temperature at 104 degrees, making it the hottest game in AT&T Field's 13-year history.
The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Chattanooga used two-out singles by Rafael Ynoa, Nick Buss and Blake Smith to take a 2-0 lead. The Lookouts (8-3) made it 3-0 in the sixth when Jake Lemmerman led off with a double to left and scored on a Casey Harman wild pitch.
Chattanooga returned home after sweeping a five-game series in Mississippi. So stout were the Lookouts on the mound that the first four starters in that series -- Allen Webster, newcomer Zach Lee, Ethan Martin and Matt Magill -- combined to allow just two runs in 25 innings.
Aaron Miller wasn't as dominant in Saturday's finale, allowing three walks and a bases-clearing triple in the first inning, but he recovered from a 40-pitch opening inning and didn't allow another hit until leaving after the fifth. Chattanooga's earned run average was 3.97 at the start of the second half but now is at 3.73.
"It's definitely a dream scenario," pitching coach Chuck Crim said. "We've always had the potential to do this -- not necessarily going out and throwing this many shutouts -- but we always had the talent to go out there and win 4-1 or 3-1 games. Without a doubt, we have the best arms in the organization."
The Lookouts are countering these sizzling conditions by reducing their batting practice and infield sessions before games. They also have installed a ping-pong table in the clubhouse to keep the players loose with some indoor entertainment.
"It's awesome having this," catcher Griff Erickson said during a break between points. "It's just really, really hot out there."
Webster (3-7, 4.39) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Dae-Eun Rhee (4-4, 5.35) 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 ...
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