Smokes Lose Third Straight 8-3 in Pearl


PEARL, MS – Tennessee reliever P.J. Francescon allowed five earned runs on six hits between the seventh and eighth innings and the Smokies failed to hold a two run lead in the sixth as they lost their third straight 8-3 to the Braves in Mississippi on Saturday afternoon.

Francescon (5-2) allowed a two-out RBI single in the seventh before a misplay in left allowed two more Mississippi (23-19)  runs to score in the disastrous inning.

Brandon Cunniff earned the win after holding the Smokies (23-19) without a run over 1 and 2/3 innings. Cunniff (1-0) walked one and struck out two while pitching the sixth and seventh innings.

The Smokies lost a 3-3 tie in the seventh after the Braves scored four times in the inning. They also lost a 3-1 lead in the sixth when starter Matt Loosen allowed a two-run home run to Seth Lohman.

Loosen started opposite Mississippi’s David Bromberg and both pitchers had clean slates through the first three innings.

The M-Braves did strike first in the game after plating a run without a hit in the fourth. Loosen walked two in the fourth and later hit Elmer Reyes with the bases loaded and Mississippi took a 1-0 lead.

Loosen kept the Braves without a hit over the first four, but he and the Smokies trailed the Braves 1-0 after the fourth.

Rubi Silva notched the first hit of the game for the Smokies in the fourth. It was a two-out double that moved Kris Bryant to third after he reached on a walk earlier in the inning. The Smokies were kept off the board in the fourth, though, and were not able to answer Mississippi’s run.

Bromberg held the Smokies without a run through five and picked up the first Mississippi hit of the game in the fifth with a one-out single.

The Smokies got on the board for the first time when Charlie Cutler hit a two-run home run off Bromberg with out one in the sixth. The home run gave the Smokies a 2-1 lead and was the first of the season for Cutler.

Cutler batted in the two spot for the first time this season on Saturday and Bryant followed him with a single to center. Silva then popped out, but the inning continued with consecutive singles from Dustin Geiger and Jae-Hoon Ha. Ha’s single scored Bryant and the Smokies took a 3-1 lead.

Loosen stayed in for the sixth and lost the lead after giving up a home run to Mississippi’s Seth Lohman. Lohman’s two-run home run tied the game at 3-3 and was his sixth of the year.

Things then slipped out of control for the Smokies in the seventh. Francescon pitched the seventh in place of Loosen after he was taken out before the inning.

With two outs in the seventh, Francescon allowed a single to Daniel Carrol and with Joe Leonard batting, a wild pitch moved Carroll to second. Lohman then doubled to score Carroll to break the tie and give the Braves a 4-3 lead.

Matt Kennelly followed Lohman with a pop fly to shallow left-center that was lost in the sunlight by the Smokies’ defense. Neither Jeudy Valdez or John Andreoli were able to catch the ball and it fell down for a two-out, two-run double.

Mississippi later took a 7-3 lead in the seventh when Reyes drove in his second run of the game with a RBI single off Francescon. Francescon allowed four hits and four runs in the seventh. He also walked one and struck out one in the inning.

David Rohm and reliever Eric Berger both had hits off Francescon in the eighth. Rohm moved to third on Berger’s single and scored moments later when Francescon uncorked a wild pitch.

Berger pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth for the Braves. He struck out three and did not allow a hit in his appearance.

The Smokies were just 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position in the loss. They stranded six and struck out 10 times in the loss.

The series continues on Sunday evening with Dae-Eun Rhee started for the Smokies. Rhee will be opposite J.R. Graham who gets the nod for Mississippi. Rhee is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA over eight games and six starts for the Smokies this season. Graham is 0-2 with a 4.38 ERA for the Braves. The first pitch from Trustmark Park is scheduled for 6:00 PM.

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.


Categories: Game Recap

Author:Greg Young

Greg Young brings five years of Minor League Baseball experience to the Smokies Radio Network, having previously served with the High-A Modesto Nuts of the California League. He began with the Nuts as a Broadcast Assistant in 2007 before being promoted as the team's new Director of Broadcasting the following year, a position he held through the 2011 campaign. During his time with Modesto, Young also worked at KESP AM-790 as a Sports Anchor. Over the years he has worked as a broadcaster for Comcast Hometown Network and their coverage of the San Jose Giants (High-A, California League) and Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A, Pacific Coast League), in addition to high school football and basketball. Young began his broadcasting career with the Major Indoor Soccer League's California Cougars in 2006 and was the club's inaugural broadcaster before being promoted to Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting the next year. Young is a 2005 graduate of Sacramento State University, earning a Communications degree with an emphasis in Digital Media. During his senior year, Young was Sports Director for the university's student-run radio radio station KSSU, and also did play-by-play for the school's baseball, football and basketball teams while attending Sacramento State.


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