CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Biloxi Shuckers watched early scoring chances go by in game five of the BC Powder’s Southern League Championship, dropping the deciding game five, 4-0, at AT&T Field.
A crowd of 2,275 witnessed the first Southern League championship for the hometown Lookouts since 1988. Over the final three games of the Championship Series at AT&T Field, the Shuckers went 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position.
Shuckers starter Jorge Lopez (2-1) allowed two base runners in the first with two outs, but escaped the jam by getting Adam Brett Walker to bounce out to third.
Lopez started out the second in trouble by surrendering a triple off the bat of Heiker Meneses to start the frame. After a strikeout to Levi Michael, Stuart Turner doubled to left to push across the first run of the game. Shannon Wilkerson drove in the runner with a single to center and advanced to second on a throwing error by Brett Phillips.
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Southern League MVP Max Kepler led off the third inning with his third homer of the series, clearing the seats in right field to put the Shuckers in a three-run deficit. All three of Kepler’s hits in the series were long balls.
Lopez lasted just three innings and allowed three runs on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
An early chance eluded the Shuckers in the second against Chattanooga starter DJ Baxendale (1-1), as Michael Reed singled to start things off and moved over the third on Phillips’ double.
Tyrone Taylor walked to load the bases, but back-to-back strikeouts to Josh Fellhauer and Nick Ramirez and a groundout by Adam Weisenburger ended the threat.
The Shuckers had an opportunity for a two-out rally in the third to cut into the Lookouts’ two-run lead, with Orlando Arcia (reaching on a free pass and Reed poking a single up the middle, but Phillips flew out to right to end the inning.
Another scoring opportunity passed by in the fifth with Weisenburger leading off with a single and Nick Shaw drawing a one-out walk, but a fly out to right by Arcia and a groundout by Reed wasted the chance.
Jorge Ortega made his Biloxi debut and held down the Lookouts for three innings before allowing a run in the seventh to push the Shuckers’ deficit to four. Over his 3 2/3 innings of work, the 22-year-old allowed the one run on two hits, two walks and three strikeouts. Baxendale finished the game having allowed four hits and three walks, but struck out three and did not give up a run.
Jason Wheeler picked up where he left off in game two for Chattanooga (3-2), giving up just one hit, walking one and striking out three over the final four frames, securing his selection as the series MVP.
The Southern League will take a break until April of 2016, when the brand new season gets underway. The Biloxi Shuckers begin their second year at MGM Park and first full season with a seven-game homestand, and the first five games against the Chattanooga Lookouts beginning on April 7.