KODAK — It’s a script that’s been written too many times over the last month for the Tennessee Smokies. After battling back for nine innings, the Smokies fell in the 10th, with a five-run barrage. The Biloxi Shuckers secured the five-game sweep with an 11-7 victory in extras in front of 4,869 fans at Smokies Stadium Sunday night.
“We had too many opportunities that we gave up,” Smokies manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “We had some opportunities too. They gave us some. Giving up a run with no hits allowed in one inning, passed balls. Things like that are unacceptable. Obviously, they cost you ballgames.”
It was the 12th consecutive home loss for the Smokies (16-34 second half, 49-70 overall) Tennessee hasn’t won in Smokies Stadium since July 14, a 6-1 victory over the Mobile BayBears.
It was a game marked by mistakes and odd calls. In the top of the first, Biloxi (31-18, 72-47) took the lead in the top of the first thanks to a controversial catcher interference call that put lead-off hitter Joantgel Segovia on first. Two batters later, Weston Wilson brought Segovia in with an RBI double.
It was the only hit Smokies Starter Erick Leal gave up in his five innings.
“That one run was that catcher interference where the hitter never said anything,” Gonzalez said. “Normally, the hitter is the first one to say something when he feels that. Johnny (Pereda, the catcher) knew that he didn’t get hit, but it cost us a run.”
Leal got no decision, but have up just five hits, the one unearned run, two walks and seven strikeouts.
“He (Leal) had a good outing,” Gonzalez said. “He came out and pitched well. Seven strikeouts in five innings is pretty productive.”
The Smokies evened the game up in the bottom of the second. Pereda led off the frame with a double to center field and was batted to third with a single from Christian Donahue. Perada took home on a wild pitch. Three of Tennessee’s seven runs would come from pitching mistakes in the game.
Tennessee took its only lead of the game in the fifth. Nico Hoerner reached first on a fielding error and was batted to third on a Vimael Machin base hit. A sac fly from Jared Young brought Hoerner home and gave the Smokies a 2-1 advantage.
Hoerner had himself a day at the plate. He finished 3-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI leading off the line up.
“We’re trying anything right now,” Gonzalez said. “We’re battling, to say the least.”
Biloxi seemingly took the game away with a four-run sixth. A passed ball put Ryan Aguilar across home plate. Segovia picked up an RBI, batting in Alexander Alvarez, Cooper Hummel batted in Robie Rojas and an error allowed Segovia to score. The Shuckers led 5-2.
Again, Tennessee clawed its way back into the game. Charcer Burks knocked in Pereda with a double in the bottom of the inning. A sac fly from Connor Myers brought in Burks and the Smokies were within one.
In the top of the eighth, a wild pitch allowed Biloxi a 7-5 lead when Dillon Thomas scored, but the Smokies more than matched them in the bottom of the bracket with both Hoerner and Machin taking home on a wild pitch and throwing error on the same play.
In the extra inning, Biloxi shut the door for good with a five-run 10th that Tennessee could not match. The Smokies did plate another run, with Hoerner batting in Burks, but could do no more damage.
Tennessee gets tonight off before starting a five-game homestand against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (29-20, 58-61) Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
SHUCKERS 7, SMOKIES 3
A late game-tying home run by Tennessee Smokies shortstop Vimael Machin was not enough to escape a four run ninth inning from the Biloxi Shuckers in a 7-3 loss on Saturday night at Smokies Stadium. The loss marked the Smokies 11th straight loss at home.
For the fourth straight game in the series, the Shuckers hit a home run. It was Bruce Caldwell’s turn to get in on the launch party with a two-run shot in the second inning to score Jake Gatewood and give Biloxi an early 2-0 lead. The bomb to left field was the seventh for Caldwell this season.
The Smokies starter, Erich Uelmen, was efficient in his debut at Smokies Stadium. After dishing out two runs in the second, he rallied to retire the next 12 Shuckers he faced. He allowed just three runs on four hits with six strikeouts in seven innings of work.
He gave up his third run of the ballgame in the seventh frame. It was Jake Gatewood who blasted his second home run of the series with a solo shot to left-center field. Biloxi has sent seven balls over the fence in four total games this series.
On the other side of the mound, Alec Bettinger was just as solid. He allowed two runs on four hits and retired 17 Smokies in a row at one point. In two starts against the Smokies this season he is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
The only trouble Bettinger ran into was in his seventh and final inning. He gave up three straight hits to start the inning, including an RBI-double from Charcer Burks to score Tyler Payne. He was replaced by Daniel Brown who let another run home on a groundout by Roberto Caro to cut the lead to 3-2.
Manuel Rondon struck out the side in the eighth to keep it a one run game. Vimael Machin responded with a leadoff solo home run in the eighth inning to tie the ballgame. It was Machin’s fourth home run of 2019.
In the ninth, Rondon saw his twelve inning scoreless streak come to an end. He walked the first two batters of the inning and watched them step on home plate off a two RBI-double by C.J Hinojosa. Another pair came across on a single by Dillon Thomas to cap a four run ninth inning for Biloxi and seal the win.