(HUNTSVILLE) - Busloads of schoolchildren rewarded with a Wednesday morning ballgame filled seats at Joe Davis Stadium to cheer on the Huntsville Stars who rallied for 6 runs in the home 7th for a 7-4 victory over the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Mat Gamel delivered the tie-breaking, bases-loaded single on a warm sunny 78° day that was a refreshing change after two chilly nights in which fans endured temperatures that plunged into the mid 40s.
The Stars pushed their record to 8-5 overall and 7-1 at home. The Lookouts dropped to 6-7.
Both teams traded home runs early in the ballgame. Cody Strait hit his 1st of the year on David Welch's 4th pitch. Alcides Escobar matched him in the bottom of the inning with his 1st. Then Sean Henry countered as he led off the 2nd inning with his 2nd home run in as many days to give the Lookouts a 2-1 edge.
Jose Castro's 2-out, 2-run single off Welch in the 4th pushed the Lookouts lead to 4-1.
Welch, who pitched well in his first two starts, gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Chattanooga starter Ramon Ramirez retired 11 batters in a row after a 2-out double by Chris Errecart in the 1st. He left after allowing just a run on 3 hits over 5 innings.
Errecart opened the Stars' 7th inning comeback with a walk. Singles by Matt LaPorta and Carlos Corporan off Carlos Fisher followed.
Freddy Parejo, the hottest hitter on the club, cut the Lookouts' margin to one, 4-3, before an intentional pass to pinch-hitter Cole Gillespie reloaded the bases. Parejo is 13-for-26 this season with 8 RBIs.
Fisher then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Corporan to tie the game.
After Mike Bell grounded out, Fisher was replaced by left-hander Pedro Viola, who walked lefty-swinging Michael Brantley to fill the bases again. Derrick Lutz entered from the bullpen and got Escobar to force Parejo out at the plate for the 2nd out.
Gamel, who had hit into an inning-ending twin-killing in the 6th, snapped a 1-for-20 slump with a sharp single into right that cleared the bases for a 7-4 lead.
Robert Hinton retired all four hitters he faced to earn his 1st win and was followed by E.J. Shanks, who set down the side in the 8th, and Joe Bateman, who picked up his 3rd save.
The series continues Thursday night with left-hander Brae Wright for Huntsville against Lookouts' right-hander James Avery.