Walk-off homer lifts Lookouts to title

Walk-off homer lifts Lookouts to title

With three outs left in their season, the Chattanooga Lookouts staged one final rally and came away with a share of the Southern League championship.

Jonathan Rodriguez, who hit a career-high 22 homers this season, belted a two-run walk-off homer as Double-A Chattanooga topped Montgomery, 3-2, in the decisive fifth game of the Southern League semifinals.

"I knew it was gone right when I touched it," Rodriguez told MiLB.com. "It was up in the zone and it got the sweet spot. I knew it was gone right away."

The Lookouts are splitting the title with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos as the Southern League announced last week that, because of Hurricane Irma, the championship series would be cancelled and the winners of the North and South Divisions would be crowned co-champions.

Twins No. 17 prospect LaMonte Wade, who finished 3-for-4, got the rally started as he led off the ninth with a base hit. One pitch later, Wade, Rodriguez and the rest of the Lookouts were celebrating their championship at home plate.

"He's been with us pretty much all year, right in the middle of the lineup," Lookouts manager Jake Mauer said of Rodriguez. "He was outstanding the whole year in terms of at-bats, leadership and everything that he brings to the team. For him to come up and deliver in that spot is pretty special."

The two-run homer marked Chattanooga's first lead of the game as Rays No. 18 prospect Joe McCarthy led off the game with a solo homer for Montgomery, just as he did in Game 1 of the series.

The lookouts tied the game when Andy Wilkins hit a solo homer in the second, but the Biscuits took the lead once again in the fourth as Nick Ciuffo (Rays' No. 25) came through with a two-out RBI single.

From there it was a battle of the pitching staffs as neither team was able to mount much offense until the final frame.

The championship caps a strong season for Chattanooga, who finished 76-64 in the regular season. The Lookouts took an early 1-0 lead in the semifinals and then after dropping Game 2, came back and won Game 3. With a chance to win the series, the Lookouts were shutout in Game 4, but managed to battle back in Game 5 and come away with the championship.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.