PEARL, MS – Corey Black let go of a run scoring wild pitch in the fourth and Tony Zych did the same in the sixth and the Smokies lost their second straight 2-0 to the Braves in Mississippi at Trustmark Park on Friday night.
Black (2-4) struck out six and walked three while pitching into the sixth, but also allowed two earned runs on five hits. He lost a wild pitch that plated Elmer Reyes in the fourth and that would prove to be the difference in the game.
The Smokies (23-18) were shutout by Mississippi (22-19) starter Aaron Northcraft who pitched six full innings and earned the win. Northcraft (4-2) walked three, gave up four hits and struck out five over six scoreless and lowered his earned run average to 2.70 this season.
Reliever John Cornely and closer Shae Simmons pitched the final three innings and held the Smokies without a run and to just one hit. Simmons struck out the side in the ninth and earned his league best 11th save of the season.
Neither side scored a run through the first three as both Black and Northcraft got out to solid starts for Tennessee and Mississippi respectively.
Black walked two and struck out two in the first and had four strikeouts through the first three innings.
Mississippi took the lead in the fourth when Reyes started the inning with a leadoff single. He moved to second on a ground out by Kyle Kubitza and then went to third on a ground out by David Carroll. With Braeden Schlehuber batting, Black let go of a pitch wide of home and Reyes scored to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Zych, like Black, would also lose a wild pitch that led to a Mississippi run. Seth Loman walked to start the sixth and eventually moved to third with help of another error by the Smokies and a Kubitza force out. Zych relieved Black in the sixth after Kubitza’s force out and moments later he allowed his inherited runner to score on a pitch that got away from catcher Rafael Lopez.
Northcraft took the 2-0 advantage and ran with it. He pitched six scoreless innings and scattered four hits. Northcraft walked three and struck out five.
Meanwhile, Black, allowed two runs, both earned, also on four hits over 5 and 1/3 innings. Black walked three and struck out six.
Zych pitched the end of sixth and then pitched a scoreless seventh. He walked one and struck out one over 1 and 2/3 innings.
Arodis Vizcaino pitched the eighth for the Smokies and struck out two in the inning.
The loss dropped the Smokies to 4.5 games out of first behind the Huntsville Stars in the Southern League North.
Tennessee returns home to Smokies Stadium on Wednesday, May 21 for a five-game set with the Mobile BayBears, the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Information for the upcoming homestand, including promotions, can be viewed by clicking here.
Tickets for the remainder of the Smokies’ 2014 home slate are still available and can be purchased by clicking here, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.