(CHATTANOOGA) - Five different players had three hits, including Angel Salome who also walked twice and drove in 6 runs, as the Huntsville Stars came out on top of a wild 21-hit, 15-10 slugfest over the Chattanooga Lookouts, Tuesday night at AT&T Field.
The Stars improve to 36-23 and remain a game on top of the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in the Northern Division, 4 games ahead of Carolina and 6 ahead of Chattanooga with 11 games left to play in the first half.
Salome jumped on Lookouts' starter James Avery (2-3) in the 1st inning with a 3-run home run that highlighted a 4-run inning in which the Stars collected their first 6 hits of the ballgame. It was Salome's 6th of the year and 2nd off Avery this season.
The Lookouts scored single runs in the 2nd and the 4th inning, holding the Stars' lead to a 4-2 margin until the 6th when Pedro Viola replaced Avery, who had given up 10 hits. Viola walked Huntsville starter Brae Wright with one out in the 6th, then a 2-out single to Alcides Escobar before Mat Gamel hit his league-leading 19th double to push both runners in for a 6-2 lead.
Justin Turner doubled in a run in the bottom half before both teams exploded for a combined 16 runs in the final three innings.
The Stars scored six runs in the top of the 7th on 5 singles and an error to extend their lead to a seemingly comfortable 12-3, but Robert Hinton and David Johnson were pelted with four singles, a double, a pair of walks, and an error that resulted in five runs before Johnson struck out the final two batters, Daniel Dorn and Shaun Cumberland, to end the bottom half of the inning with the Stars holding a 12-8 lead.
After a quiet 8th, the Stars tacked on 3 more runs in the 9th off Derrik Lutz on an RBI single by Salome, a double by Matt LaPorta, his 3rd of the game, and an RBI grounder by Cole Gillespie.
Omar Aguilar took over in the bottom half and loaded the bases on a pair of walks with a hit batter sandwiched in between. A fielder's choice and a throwing error, Escobar's 2nd error of the game and 4th in two days, scored the final two runs for Chattanooga. Erik Eymann lined out to end a 3 hour, 50 minute ballgame, the longest 9-inning game this year for the Stars.
The Stars matched their season-best in runs and came two shy of breaking the franchise record for hits in a game with 21. They scored at least 10 runs in a game for the 12th time this season and increased their team batting average to a league-leading .305 -- 32 points above the nearest team, West Tennessee.
Brae Wright (4-5) won his 3rd straight game, owning a 2.14 ERA in those games. and have totaled at least 10 runs in a game for a 12th time this season.
The series finishes Wednesday morning with Hatton High School graduate Donovan Hand (0-0, 2.70) taking the hill against Lookouts' southpaw Ben Jukich (5-2, 2.34). Jukich is 5th among Southern League ERA leaders. The Stars return home Thursday for a crucial five-game series against the Diamond Jaxx.