By Andrew Green / Tennessee Smokies
Smokies catcher Rafael Lopez collected two hits, including a homer, and drove in two runs, while Jackson plated three late ninth inning tallies to give the Generals a 6-4 victory over Tennessee on Monday evening at Smokies Stadium.
The series opening win moves Jackson to a 7-4 record this season, while the Smokies fell to 5-6 in 2014.
Heading into the ninth inning down by one, the Generals struck for three tallies. 1B Mickey Wiswall began the late rally with a single, and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before coming home on pinch hitter Kevin Rivers’ run-scoring single to nod the score at 4-4. Jackson would then take the lead for good courtesy of SS Gabriel Noriega’s triple to right, before the Generals added insurance on CF Jamal Austin’s RBI single to center.
Jackson and Tennessee exchanged tallies in the second frame, both courtesy of the big fly. Generals 2B Jack Marder mashed his first roundtripper of the year in the top of the frame, while Smokies 1B Dustin Geiger followed suit with a solo blast of his own in the subsequent half inning. Geiger’s homer was his fourth of the year, ranking him alone in first in the Southern League.
One inning later, Jackson again took the lead, this time with a two-run frame. CF Jamal Austin led off with a single, and then swiped second, before coming home on LF Leon Landry’s run-scoring base knock to left. After stealing third, Landry would then be brought across on DH Jabari Blash’s groundout.
The Smokies, however, would narrow the margin to one thanks to another longball. This time it was C Rafael Lopez who left the yard, depositing a 2-2 pitch into the right-center field berm to make it 3-2.
Lopez would deliver again in his next at by moving Tennessee ahead as part of a two-run frame. LF Rubi Silva’s single started the sequence, with 3B Kris Bryant bringing him home with an opposite field RBI double, while Lopez capped the scoring with his run-scoring single to right.
Lopez (2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) and Geiger (2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) each recorded multi-hit efforts in the defeat for the Smokies, while Austin (2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI), Landry (2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI), Wiswall (2-3, 1 BB), Marder (2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI) and CF Nathan Melendres (2-4, 1 R, 1 2B) all collected two hits for the Generals.
Tennessee starter C.J. Edwards (5.0 IP,, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO) did not receive a decision after allowing three earned runs on five hits in five innings, in addition to fanning seven Jackson hitters, while reliever Tony Zych (1.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER) suffered the defeat.
Jackson relief pitcher Kevin Shackleford (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 SO) earned the victory in support of starter Jordan Pries (6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO), who gave up two earned runs on two hits, fanning eight in the no decision. Generals right-hander Mayckol Guaipe (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) also notched his first save of the season.
The two teams will battle again Tuesday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at Smokies Stadium. Tennessee has not yet announced their starter, while righty Trevor Miller (0-1, 5.19) is slated to take the hill for Jackson.
Tickets for that contest and the remaining games of Tennessee’s ten-game homestand, which lasts through Friday, April 18, are still available, and can be purchased at http://www.smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.
Listen to Manager Buddy Bailey’s postgame reaction below: