Smokies catcher Javier Lopez broke a 1-1 9th inning tie with a bases-clearing double and the Tennessee Smokies took the series opener against the Birmingham Barons by the final of 5-2.
The Smokies would jump out to a 1-0 lead in the second on a bloop RBI single by Lopez, scoring Justin Bour. The run would be the only one surrendered by starter Scott Carroll, who allowed just four hits and struck out four over 6.0 IP.
Smokies starter Eduardo Figueroa held the Barons in check over 7.0 shutout innings allowing just four hits and striking out five. The Barons threatened in the sixth, putting runners at second and third after a Dan Wagner double, but Figueroa struck out Cody Puckett, induced a pop out by Trayce Thompson and got Dan Black to fly out to end the inning.
The Barons would tie the game at 1-1 in the seventh without having a ball leave the infield. Brandon Jacobs led off the inning with an infield single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Blanke. After a Keenyn Walker groundout sent Jacobs to second, David Herbek would send a routine ground ball to third baseman Jonathan Mota who threw the ball over the head of first baseman Justin Bour, allowing Jacobs to score.
The Smokies broke the 1-1 tie in the ninth with four runs against Kevin Vance (2-4, 2.94). After retiring the first two batters, Vance would surrender two walks and a base hit Brett Jackson to load the bases for Lopez who drove Vance's full-count offering off the wall in right field for a bases clearing double. Mota would follow with a double of his own to drive in Lopez and give the Smokies a 5-1 lead.
The Barons would threaten in the ninth, loading the bases and getting a run when Frank Batista hit Herbek with a pitch. However, Batista recovered to retire the next two batters to preserve the victory of Tennessee.
Tony Zych (4-4, 2.42) earned the win for the Smokies, allowing an unearned run over 2.0 IP as the Smokies improved to 68-56 and 34-21 in the second half. With the loss, the Barons fell to 71-55 and 27-29 in the second half while slipping 7.5 games behind the Smokies in the second half standings.
COURTESY: Barons Media Relations
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