KODAK – Smokies right fielder Anthony Giansanti smashed a solo shot to left to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth, while relievers Jose Veras, Ryan Searle, Tony Zych and Hunter Cervenka fired the final four scoreless frames to lead Tennessee to a 4-1 victory over the Birmingham Barons on Tuesday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.
The win is the eighth in their last nine contests, and moves the Smokies to an 18-14 record, while the Barons fell to 12-19. Tennessee also took a 2-0 lead in the series and will have a chance to clinch the series Wednesday evening.
Birmingham for the second straight contest struck first, this time in the fourth. 3B Chris Curley broke the scoreless draw with a solo shot to straightaway center, with his first blast of the season putting the Barons up 1-0.
It would stay that way until the sixth, when Tennessee tied it back up thanks to a familiar hero. C Charlie Cutler followed up last night’s four-hit night with a two-out run-scoring single to right, plating Bruno after he led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and third on a groundout.
Another homer would eliminate the tie, though this time the swing favored the Smokies. An inning after coming in as a defensive replacement, Giansanti led off the bottom of the seventh by driving his first longball of the season to the berm in left field to make it 2-1. Tennessee then increased the advantage to two after a sacrifice fly to right by 3B Wes Darvill.
Tennessee would then cap the scoring in the following frame. 1B Dustin Geiger laced a leadoff double to left, and then would come home on Ha’s perfectly placed infield bunt single down the third base line, moving the Smokies ahead 4-1.
Right-hander Matt Loosen (5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO) did not factor in the decision after allowing a lone earned run on four hits, fanning seven, while Birmingham starter Chris Beck suffered the defeat. Veras (1.0 IP, 1 SO), who joined the Smokies earlier Tuesday on a Major League Rehab Assignment, along with Searle, Zych (0.2 IP,, 2 H, 1 SO) and Cervenka would then support Loosen with four shutout innings, with Searle (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 SO) earning the win and Cervenka (0.1 IP, 1 SO) notching his first save.
Bruno (3-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB) led all batters with three base knocks, while Cutler (2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI) recorded his second straight multi-hit effort, and has recorded hits in nine of his last 14 at bats, driving in six runs. LF John Andreoli also reached with a single, extending his on-base streak to a 2014 team-best 25 games.
Tennessee will look to clinch the series Wednesday evening in the third game of the series between the two clubs. The Smokies are scheduled to give the ball to RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (1-1, 2.92), while RHP Myles Jaye (0-3, 4.65) is expected to get the nod for the Barons.
Fans will want to come hungry and prepare to feast tomorrow night for All You Can Eat Wednesday. For just $19.99, fans can enjoy all the hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, French fries and Pepsi products they can handle, while kids 12 and under are only $17.99.
Tickets for that game and the remaining 2014 Smokies home games are still available and can be purchased online at www.smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.