By: Adam Kline
KODAK, Tenn. – In a must-win game, the Tennessee Smokies got back on the winning track in a big way by defeating the Birmingham Barons, 9-2, in Game Three of the North Division Championship Series Saturday night at Smokies Park. Tennessee stays alive in the best-of-five series, as the Smokies trail the Barons 2-games-to-1.
For the first time in the series, the Smokies got on board the first when Javier Baez hit a two-run home run off Barons starter Spencer Arroyo, scoring Matt Szczur and give the Tennessee a 2-0 lead.
Leading 2-1 in the fifth, John Andreoli led off the frame with a double, advanced to third on a fly out by Taylor Davis and scored on a sacrifice fly by Szczur to extend Tennessee’s lead, 3-1.
Tennessee starter Eric Jokisch (1-0) gave the Smokies just the start that they needed. The lefty gave up a run in the eighth inning and would be pulled after allowing two runs on five hits, striking out four in his 7.2 innings of work. Reliever Armando Rivero would limit the Barons’ threat, getting the final out in the eighth.
The Smokies would put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eight with six runs on RBI singles by Justin Bour and Christian Villanueva. The big blow came off John Andreoli’s bases-clearing double against Ryan Kussmaul to give Tennessee the 9-2 advantage. Smokies closer Frank Batista closed out the game, getting the final three outs in the ninth.
Arroyo (0-1) took the loss for Birmingham allowing three runs on four hits and striking out four in six innings.
Szczur, Baez, Villanueva and Andreoli led the Smokies offense each going 2-for-4 on the night.
The Smokies will look to tie the series at two games apiece Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. at Smokies Park. The Smokies will send RHP Eduardo Figueroa (2-2, 2.38) to the mound and will be opposed by Barons lefty Scott Snodgress (11-11, 4.70). For tickets and more information, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.
AUDIO RECAP SMOKIES 9 Barons 2