By Cody Chrusciel / Smokies Radio Network
HOOVER, Ala. – The Tennessee Smokies (24-27 second half, 59-62 overall) used a five-run eighth inning to notch their third straight win as they downed the Birmingham Barons (25-26, 55-65), 8-2 on Tuesday night in the opener of a five-game series at Regions Park.
The game went scoreless into the sixth, when Tennessee drew first blood. After Logan Watkins doubled to right with one out, Jae-Hoon Ha clubbed his fifth home run of the season to left field to give the Smokies a 2-0 advantage.
That lead would be short-lived, however, as the Barons plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the contest. Trayce Thompson led off the inning with a triple and scored two batters later when Brady Shoemaker flew out to the warning track. The next batter, Seth Loman, homered to right to even the score, 2-2. Shoemaker’s sacrifice fly snapped a string of 23.2 consecutive scoreless innings tossed by Tennessee pitchers dating back to Friday night’s contest against Huntsville.
With Birmingham reliever Dan Remenowsky taking over for starter Andre Rienzo in the top of the eighth, the Smokies erupted for five runs to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Mike Brenly led off with a double and Matt Szczur followed with a walk to put two runners aboard with no outs. Watkins singled Brenly home to put the Smokies up, 3-2. Following a one-out intentional walk to Justin Bour, which loaded the bases later in the frame, a two-run single by Junior Lake made it a 5-2 contest. Bour came plateward on a Rubi Silva RBI single to give Tennessee a 6-2 advantage before a sacrifice fly off the bat of Elliot Soto made it 7-2. Remenowsky (1-3), who recorded just one out and was charged with five earned runs after allowing four hits and walking three batters, was saddled with the loss.
The Smokies tacked on an insurance run in the ninth on an RBI groundout off the bat of Bour.
Tennessee starter Dallas Beeler worked three scoreless innings, allowing four hits and walking two with three strikeouts before being lifted from the game after throwing 62 pitches. Austin Kirk retired the side in order in the fourth on just 10 pitches in his Double-A debut. Casey Harman followed by allowing two runs over 2.2 innings before Trey McNutt (7-8) worked 1.1 scoreless frames to pick up the win. Kevin Rhoderick worked a scoreless ninth.
The Smokies were efficient on offense, tallying eight runs on nine hits. In his Double-A debut, Silva started in left field and finished 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Lake went 2-for-4 with a double, a run, and two RBIs.
The Smokies and Barons continue their five-game series on Wednesday night at 8:05 p.m. when Tennessee sends right-hander Nick Struck (13-10, 3.64 ERA) to the mound against Birmingham righty Nestor Molina (4-9, 4.70 ERA) at Regions Park.
GAME NOTES: The Smokies string of 23.2 scoreless innings marks the team’s longest streak of the season… Rubi Silva, who joined the Smokies from High-A Daytona on Tuesday, tripled in his first career Double-A at-bat; Sliva was leading the Florida State League with 11 triples at the time of his promotion… Prior to surrendering five earned runs on Tuesday night, Birmingham’s Dan Remenowsky had allowed just six earned runs over his first 22 Southern League games of the season (42.0 innings), raising his ERA from 1.29 to 2.34… The Smokies have won four of the last five meetings with Birmingham and are 12-7 against the Barons this season.
LISTEN TO GAME HIGHLIGHTS: August 14, 2012 Smokies 8 Barons 2