The Smokies scored eight runs on five hits in the first and gave starter Corey Black a comfortable cushion to work with as they took the finale of a five games series against the Barons 9-1 at Regions Field on Wednesday afternoon. The win gave the Smokies the three games to two series victory.
Black (1-1) earned his first win of the season after holding the Barons (10-10) without a hit or a run over six scoreless innings. He walked three and struck out eight. The Smokies (10-10) forced Birmingham starter Terry Doyle (2-2) out of the game in the first after he retired just two batters and allowed eight runs and five hits.
John Andreoli started the furious eight run rally with a single through shortstop. It was his fourth straight game with a leadoff single and would eventually lead to his third first inning run over the last four games. He was 2-for-2 in the first with a run and was 3-for-6 overall in the game.
Zeke DeVoss, who batted in the second spot for the first time this season, followed Andreoli with a walk. Kris Bryant then reached on a throwing error and the bases loaded up for Rafael Lopez. Doyle walked Lopez to score the first Tennessee run and then allowed a two-run double to Dustin Geiger.
Geiger’s double was his third of the season and it gave the Smokies a 3-0 lead. Doyle went on to strikeout Rubi Silva and then walked Jae-Hoon Ha. A single to left from Jeudy Valdez scored Lopez to make it 4-0 and loaded the bases for the ninth batter Wes Darvill.
Darvill cleared the bases with a three-run double that scored Geiger, Ha and Valdez. The double was Darvill’s second and gave him seven total runs batted in this season. The Smokies led 8-0 after Darvill’s hit and scored once more in the inning when DeVoss grounded into a force out.
The Smokies collected five hits and eight runs in the first. Of the eight runs scored in the inning, only five were earned to Doyle who pitched just 2/3 of an inning in his start. He left after walking the bases loaded with free passes given to both Bryant and Lopez. Reliever Jarrett Casey took over in the first and was able to get out of the inning without allowing any of three he inherited to score.
Black took the eight run advantage and ran with it through six scoreless and no-hit innings. Black retired the side in order in the first, third and fifth innings.He walked one in each of the second, fourth and sixth, but faced a combined 11 batters between those three innings. Black walked three and struck out eight in his dominating performance.
The Barons did not get their first hit until Black left the game after the sixth. P.J. Francescon pitched the seventh and hit the first batter he faced before giving up a single to Josh Richmond. Francescon (S, 1) allowed a hit and a run in the eighth, but held Birmingham to a run on two hits over three innings. He walked two and struck out two over the final three innings and earned his first save of the season.
Birmingham’s bullpen held the Smokies to a run and six hits over the final eight and 1/3 innings. Casey kept them scoreless through four full innings pitched. Nestor Molina gave up a solo home run to Silva in the sixth and struck out two over two and 1/3 innings. Silva was 7-for-21 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the series against the Barons.
Parker Frazier finished the game out of the pen and allowed two hits and struck out two over two innings.
The Smokies will return home on Thursday night with the first game of a five-game series against the first place Huntsville Stars, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Tickets are still available for the series and the remainder of the 2014 home-slate, and can be purchased online at http://www.smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.