By Cody Chrusciel / Smokies Radio Network
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Bryson Smith plated Billy Hamilton with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the Pensacola Blue Wahoos past the Tennessee Smokies, 3-2, on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. The loss snaps Tennessee’s five-game winning streak.
With the game deadlocked at two in the ninth, the Smokies called on reliever Kevin Rhoderick. Rhoderick struck out the first batter of the frame but followed with back-to-back walks to Hamilton and Juan Perez. Smith then delivered an RBI single into the right field corner, allowing Hamilton to motor around from second with the winning run.
As both teams stranded multiple runners on base in each of the first two frames, the game went scoreless into the bottom of the third when Smith led off with a single and scored on a base hit by Donald Lutz to give the Blue Wahoos a 1-0 lead.
That score held until the top of the sixth, when Logan Watkins launched a two-run homer to right center to put Tennessee up, 2-1. The blast was Watkins’ ninth of the season and his third in the past four games.
With Tennessee starter Eric Jokisch out of the game in the sixth, Pensacola would even the score. Zach Rosscup entered and surrendered a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with one out. Pinch hitter Beau Mills lifted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Brodie Greene with the tying run. Later in the frame, Tucker Barnhart tried to score from third on a wild pitch but catcher Anthony Recker played a friendly carom off the backstop and flipped to Rosscup, who applied the tag at home to cut down the potential go-ahead run and end the inning.
Justin Freeman (4-7) worked 1.1 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win while Rhoderick (2-8)suffered the loss. Jokisch pitched well but did not factor in the decision for Tennessee, surrendering one run on six hits over five frames.
The Smokies and Blue Wahoos play game four of their five-game series on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET when Tennessee sends right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee (9-8, 4.95 ERA) to the mound against Pensacola righty Chad Rogers (3-1, 1.73 ERA) at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
GAME NOTES: The Smokies stranded 13 runners on base, including nine in scoring position… Despite the loss, the Smokies are still 6-2 against Pensacola in 2012… Billy Hamilton finished 0-for-3 and is now 2-for-29 against Tennessee this season; Hamilton is 0-for-12 this series.