By: Adam Kline
KODAK, Tenn. – Behind a 10-hit offensive attack and a quality start by starter Dae-Eun Rhee, the Tennessee Smokies defeated the Birmingham Barons 8-4 Monday night at Smokies Park. With the win, in front of 3,764, the Smokies (22-14, 56-49) take 0.5 game lead over the Barons (22-15, 66-41) in the Southern League North Division.
The Smokies took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning after John Andreoli was hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. Andreoli then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. The next batter, Rafael Lopez, notched his 32nd RBI of the season as he singled to left to score Andreoli from third.
In the fourth inning, the Smokies plated three runs to take a 4-0 lead. Matt Szczur walked with the bases loaded and then Arismendy Alcantara singled to right, scoring Andreoli and Lopez.
The Smokies would extend their lead to 8-0 in the fifth inning. Four consecutive hits by Rubi Silva, Brett Jackson, Andreoli and Lopez plated two runs with runners on second and third, Alcantara singled in Andreoli and Lopez. Silva’s single extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
Rhee (3-0) pitched a gem in his third start off the disabled list, going 6.1 innings, giving up two hits, two earned runs, a walk and struck out five Barons batters.
Rhee ran into trouble in the seventh inning, giving up a two run home run to Brandon Jacobs. It was Jacobs’ first home run of the season for the Barons. Hunter Cervenka closed out the inning and pitched to three batters in the eighth inning before he gave way to Smokies closer Frank Batista.
Batista came and pitched two innings of relief, giving up an unearned run, a walk and a strikeout.
Former Tennessee Volunteer pitcher Stephen McCray (9-7) took the loss for Birmingham after allowing four hits, four earned runs (three earned), walked five and struck out one in just four innings.
The Smokies totaled 10 hits in the game, with three coming from Alcantara (3-for-4, four RBIs), two from Villanueva (2-for-4) and two from Lopez (2-for-3 with two RBIs). Silva, Jackson, and Andreoli each had hits as well for the Smokies.
The Smokies look to extend their North Division lead against the Barons on Tuesday at 7:15 at Smokies Park. Smokies’ right-hander Yeiper Castillo (1-2, 3.74) will square off against Barons’ righty Michael Nix (3-3, 4.69).
RAFAEL LOPEZ POSTGAME INTERVIEW
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