By: Adam Kline
KODAK, Tenn. – The Tennessee Smokies hit two home runs on the night, but were unable to overcome a three-run sixth inning by the Mobile BayBears and fell in the opening game of their five-game set, 3-2, Friday night. The loss, in front of 5,513 at Smokies Park, drops the Smokies to 36-24 on the second half, 70-59 overall.
The Smokies got on the board in the third inning when Javier Baez homered off BayBears starter Mark Serrano to give the Smokies a 1-0 lead. It was Baez’s 17th home run with the Smokies and his 34th home run overall this season.
Smokies starter Eduardo Figueroa (1-2) cruised through the BayBears lineup for the first five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning, surrendering three earned runs to put the Smokies down 3-1.
Rubi Silva would bring the Smokies within one after he hit his 14th home run of the season, a solo shot, to bring the Smokies within one, 3-2.
Figueroa would get taken out of the game after pitching six innings while giving up eight hits, three earned runs, a walk and struck out three.
The Smokies bullpen of Armando Rivero, Hunter Cervenka and A.J. Morris kept the game close, working out of various jams throughout the late innings to keep Tennessee within a run.
Tennessee rallied in the ninth, when Jonathan Mota reached on a single and advanced to third on a double by Matt Szczur. With two outs, BayBears closer Jake Barrett (S, 12) got John Andreoli to line out to center to end the Smokies’ threat.
Serrano (5-2) picked up the win going 5.2 innings and gave up seven hits, two earned runs, walked three and struck out six.
Tennessee and Mobile will play the second game of their five-game series on Saturday night at 6:15. The Smokies will send right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee (5-1, 3.49) to the mound to face off against BayBears righty Bradin Hagens (10-8, 3.57).
AUDIO RECAP BAYBEARS 3 Smokies 2