Smokies survive with Saturday night victory
KODAK- The Tennessee Smokies were facing elimination Saturday night in game three of the Southern League North Division Championship Series and needed a spark against the Birmingham Barons.
That spark came on the mound as starting pitcher Eric Jokisch went 7.2 strong innings and Tennessee broke open a close game in the eighth inning by scoring six runs as they lived to fight another day, winning 9-2.
With the victory, the Barons (77-64) and Smokies (77-62) will play game four of the series this afternoon at 3 p.m. Birmingham leads the series two games to one.
Jokisch scattered five hits and struck out four Birmingham batters. Spencer Arroyo took the loss for the Barons as he went six innings with three earned runs and four strikeouts.
“Jokisch set the tone and did a really nice job,” Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey said. “Luckily, we are not thinking about getting on air planes or getting in cars and heading home. We have another game to play and hopefully find a way to win (on Sunday). If we do that, then the pressure is back on them.”
Javier Baez started things with a bang as he ripped a two-run homer to left center field in the bottom of the first inning. The Barons cut the lead in half in the third when Tyler Saladino lead off the inning with a double, stole third and came home on a fielders choice to make it 2-1.
Tennessee picked up an insurance run in the fifth when John Andreoli doubled and then scored on a sac fly to center by Matt Szczur to make it 3-1. The eighth inning proved to be a disaster for the Barons after they had cut the lead to only one run. Tennessee scored six runs in the home half of the inning, highlighted by a bases-loaded double by Andreoli. He went two-for-four with two doubles and two RBIs.
- By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent