By Adam Kline / Tennessee Smokies
KODAK, Tenn. – Runs were aplenty for the Tennessee Smokies Friday night, as Justin Bour and Juan Apodaca led a 14-hit attack for the Smokies in a thrilling 10-8 win over the Birmingham Barons. The win, in front of 4,995 fans on Fireworks Friday, puts the Smokies at 4-5 for the second half, 39-40 overall and evens the five-game set with the Barons (5-4, 35-43) at two games a piece.
After two scoreless innings, the Smokies got to Birmingham starter Matt Wickswat (1-5) in the third inning. Following an Elliot Soto single, Logan Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha loaded the bases with back-to-back bunt singles. Soto would score easily on a Bour walk and Apodaca, fresh off rejoining the Smokies from Triple-A Iowa, cleared the bases with a double to right-center to give the Smokies a 4-0 lead.
The Smokies added their lead an inning later, as Bour singled home Ha, who singled earlier in the inning, to extend Tennessee’s lead, 5-0.
Birmingham would score two runs off Smokies starter Dallas Beeler in the fifth inning to cut Tennessee’s lead to 5-2. Beeler (3-5) allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four over five innings of work.
Leading 5-2, the Smokies responded with three runs in the fifth. Matt Cerda and Nelson Perez singled to begin the inning and both crossed home plate on Mike Burgess’ two-run double to center. Watkins, who extended his team-leading hitting streak to 12 games, laced a single to right to score Burgess extending the lead to 8-2.
After Birmingham scored a run in the top of the sixth, Bour crushed a solo home run to left-center to bring the score to 9-3.
The Barons made it a game in the seventh by scoring five runs in the frame off reliever Marcus Hatley. Tyler Saladino got a run home with a single and scored on Jared Mitchell’s two-run home run. Erik Morrison capped the inning with a two-run single to make it a one-run game at 9-8
Mike Burgess added an insurance run in the eighth, hitting a single to right to score Apodaca and give the Smokies a 10-8 lead.
Newcomer Tony Zych came in relief for Hatley and allowed only one run on three hits in his Double-A debut. Frank Batista threw the final 1.2 innings of scoreless relief including a perfect ninth to notch his 13th save of the season.
Everyone in the Smokies starting nine reached base, while Apodaca, Bour and Burgess had two hits and three RBIs each.
The Smokies and Barons will face off in the rubber match of their five-game set on Saturday night at 6:15 at Smokies Park. LHP Eric Jokisch (3-1, 3.38) will start for the Smokies against southpaw Pedro Hernandez (7-2, 2.73). Make sure to arrive early, as the Smokies will be paying tribute to all military personnel in a pregame ceremony, starting at 5:15 p.m. For tickets or more information call (865) 286-2300 or visit http://www.smokiesbaseball.com.
LISTEN TO GAME HIGHLIGHTS: June 29, 2012 Barons 8 Smokies 10