By: Adam Kline
Following a rain-shortened five-inning game last night, the Tennessee Smokies looked to get back on the winning track, but fell to the Birmingham Barons Wednesday afternoon 12-11 in 14 innings. The loss, in front of 7,364 on Safe Kids Health and Awareness Day, drops the Smokies to 15-16 on the season. The 14-inning, 4 hour 43 minute game was the longest, in both innings and time, for the Smokies this season.
The Barons (22-10) started Wednesday’s game just how they left off from the night before, this time off Tennessee starter Dallas Beeler. The Barons sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and score six times on three hits.
Birmingham starter Erik Johnson kept the Smokies’ bats quiet until the third inning, when Rafael Lopez walked and Tim Torres singled to start the inning. Matt Szczur reached on an infield single to load the bases and a batter later Ronald Torreyes hit into a fielder’s choice to score Lopez from third. Following back-to-back walks, Tennessee would add another run to narrow the gap to 6-2. The runs scored in the third snapped a 29-inning scoreless streak for Tennessee.
The Smokies struck again an inning later. Following a single by Lopez, Tim Torres hit his first home run to bring the score to 6-4. The Barons plated a single run in the fifth and Tennessee answered right back with a two-run home run by Rubi Silva for a 7-6 Birmingham lead.
With the score 9-6 going into the ninth, the Smokies rallied back to tie the game and send it into extras. Ronald Torreyes singled followed by a double by Arismendy Alcantara. Ty Wright cleared the bases with a double and bring the game-winning run to the plate. After a single by Christian Villanueva, Lopez singled home Johermyn Chavez, who was pinch-running for Wright to tie the game at nine.
Birmingham scored two more runs in the tenth off reliever Frank Batista and once again the Smokies rallied back. With Ryan Kussmaul on the mound, Elliot Soto led off the inning with a single and Matt Szczur was hit by a pitch. Torreyes sacrificed the runners to second and third and Alcantara singled on a sharp groundball to first base to score Soto. Jonathan Mota was hit by a pitch to load the bases then Silva reached on an infield single to score Szczur and knot the game at 11, with bases loaded and one out. The Smokies left the bases loaded, as Kussmaul was able to retire the next two batters, ending the Smokies threat.
Smokies reliever Zac Rosscup kept the Barons’ offense off the scoreboard in his three innings of work. However in the 14th, Birmingham’s Cody Puckett hit an RBI-single off Marcus Hatley (1-1) to give the Barons the 12-11 advantage.
Chicago Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa tossed two scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon as part of a rehab assignment. The Japanese right-hander allowed only a hit in his outing at Smokies Park.
The Smokies will look to get back on the winning track against the Barons on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. at Smokies Park. The Smokies will send righty Alberto Cabrera (3-1, 3.31) and will be opposed by right-hander Nick McCully (2-1, 4.80). For tickets and more information, fans can visit http://www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.