Smokies win series finale with first place Stars
KODAK — They had already lost the series, but the Tennessee Smokies made a real statement in their final two games against the Huntsville Stars. Corey Black and the Smokies bullpen held the Stars to just one run in a 4-1 victory in from of 1,453 fans at Smokies Park Monday night.
Just two weeks ago Black had his worst outing in Double-A baseball, giving up two hits and five walks in just four innings against Jackson. Since then Black has given up just one run in 12 innings and recorded two wins.
“Black came back with another solid outing,” Smokies manager Buddy Bailey said. “Last time he was out here on this mound he got himself all out of whack and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. Pitched well on the road with no hits and did really well tonight.”
Black made just one mistake and it came early, with a home run from Huntsville’s Nick Ramirez in the top of the first. Instead of falling into a funk, Black (2-1) only gave up two more hits and a walk in six innings, with five strikeouts.
Huntsville’s Brent Suter (3-1) held down his end of the pitcher’s duel until the sixth inning. Suter hit Smokies (12-13) pinch hitter Charles Cutler, then gave up a single to John Andreoli. A quick bunt from Zack DeVoss scored two runs as Suter tossed the ball away trying to beat DeVoss to first.
“Everybody says a bunt is a little thing, but I don’t believe there is a little thing,” Bailey said. “DeVoss laid down the perfect bunt and they threw it around a little bit. We ended up with four runs and that was good enough.”
The Stars (15-10) gave Suter the hook, but the damage was done with the most dangerous section of the Smokies’ lineup coming to the plate with no outs on the board. An RBI double from Kris Bryant scored DeVoss and two batters later a double from Rafael Lopez brought in Dustin Geiger.
Jeff Lorick and Tony Zych were called in to finish out the game. Lorick went two perfect innings. Zych grabbed his first save of the year, giving up one hit.
“Lorick pitched the best he has all year and Zych came in and gave up a cheap hit,” Bailey said. “Seems like he’s snake-bit like that, but he settled down and got the ball to right field and made a really nice pitch to get a double play to end the game.”
-By Adam Greene, Tribune Correspondent