The Tennessee Smokies dropped the Huntsville Stars 7-3 on Wednesday night at Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville. With the victory, the Smokies improve to 33-19 and the Stars fall to 27-24 on the season.
The Smokies got on the board first with a huge inning in the top of the third. Luis Flores was hit by the pitch to lead off the inning and LHP Chris Rusin (2-1) reached base immediately after on a throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Both runners would then advance a base on a Brett Jackson fly out to left field. After a pop out to by Junior Lake, Josh Vitters singled to score Flores, giving the Smokies a 1-0 lead. Rebel Ridling singled on the very next at-bat to score Rusin from third base, putting Tennessee up 2-0. Steve Clevenger capped off the frame with a three run homer to left field to give the Smokies ahead 5-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Smokies added one insurance run to their lead. With one out, Marwin Gonzalez singled to center field. Nate Samson then lined a double to right field, scoring Gonzalez to give Tennessee a 6-0 lead. Huntsville answered by finally getting two runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning. Steffan Wilson singled to center field with one out and Sean Halton doubled to put runners on second and third base. Angel Gonzalez then grounded out to shortstop, scoring Wilson. Zelous Wheeler doubled home Halton with a fly ball to right field to cut the Smokies’ lead to 6-2.
In the top of the seventh, Junior Lake singled to center field with one out and later stole second base. Nelson Perez followed with a single to center field, scoring Lake and increasing the Smokies’ lead to 7-2. Huntsville would answer in the bottom of the seventh inning when Sergio Miranda reached base on an infield single. Logan Schafer singled to advance Miranda to third base, and with a throwing error by Nate Samson, Miranda would score to make it a 7-3 ballgame. Kyle Smit and Chris Carpenter combined to shut down the Stars over the final two innings to end the game.
LHP Chris Rusin went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits to get the win for the Smokies. Huntsville LHP Dan Merklinger (3-3) took the loss as he gave up six runs, with only one of the runs earned in six innings. The Smokies will try to take three games in a row and win the five game series against the Stars on Thursday night at 7:43 PM. RHP Trey McNutt (1-2, 2.34 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Smokies and the Stars will put RHP Michael Bowman (1-2, 4.68 ERA) on the mound.