The Biloxi Shuckers couldn’t take advantage of Aaron Wilkerson’s second quality start of the season on Monday. The newly honored Southern League Pitcher of the Week surrendered three runs early before settling in against the visiting Chattanooga Lookouts. While the Shuckers rallied in the seventh to tie the score, they gave the lead right back in the next frame, falling 4-3 at MGM Park.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak and puts the Shuckers in a tie for first in the Southern Division with Pensacola at 25-20.
“It was one of those days where you were hoping for a key hit like (Clint) Coulter had,” Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero said. “And some days you need two to win.”
Wilkerson threw seven innings for a second consecutive start, tying a season-long. He allowed three runs on five hits and walk while striking out six.
“He gave us an opportunity to win the ballgame,” Guerrero said. “Anytime a pitcher throws seven innings and allows three runs you have an opportunity to win.”
Former independent league standout Art Charles had one of his better performances of the season Monday. The designated hitter was 2-for-4 with a single, double and run scored.
He helped spark the Shuckers’ third inning with a leadoff single to left field. After Clint Coulter walked and Johnny Davis struck out, Mauricio Dubon singled up the middle, scoring the 6-foot-6, 220-pound slugger.
“(Charles) is improving,” Guerrero said. “It’s nice to see him start swinging the bat.”
The Shuckers’ best inning came in the seventh when Angel Ortega and Jacob Nottingham reached on a single and hit batter respectively. Following a Charles groundout, Coulter singled up the middle, scoring both Shuckers and tying the game 3-3.
“(Coulter) has been having better at-bats and hitting the ball a lot more solid,” Guerrero said. “It’s nice to see he’s coming around.”
The Lookouts (24-21) responded in the next inning, plating a run on three walks and a single all against fielder-turned-reliever Nick Ramirez. With two Lookouts on and one out, the Shuckers intentionally walked Jonathan Rodriguez to load the bases. Ramirez got a big strikeout of left-hander LaMonte Wade, but walked Ryan Stausborger to push the go-ahead run across the plate. A comebacker to Ramirez ended the threat.
“He needs to challenge the hitter a little more. Go after the hitter,” Guerrero said of Ramirez. “I prefer to get hit around to walked batters because at least you have a chance to make a play when you make them hit the ball.
“I think he’s capable of throwing strikes so he needs to make that adjustment.”
The Lookouts took an early lead in the second after Strausborger hit a triple off the right field wall and scored on a groundout. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the third to push Chattanooga’s advantage to 3-0.
Good looking out
Lookouts starter Felix Jorge earned the win, allowing three runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out three. Closer John Curtiss pitched a perfect nine with a strikeout to earn his seventh save of the season and keep his ERA unblemished at 0.00.
T.J. White led Chattanooga with two singles.
The Shuckers will take Tuesday off before visiting the Tennessee Smokies for a five-game series while the Conference USA baseball tournament takes over MGM Park. Biloxi returns home May 30 for a five-game series against Mobile.