Mobile first baseman Jon Griffin tied a Southern League record by blasting four home runs, doing so in consecutive plate appearances off four different Tennessee hurlers while driving in seven runs, while Smokies third baseman Kris Bryant smashed his Southern League leading 12th longball as the BayBears toppled Tennessee 17-7 on Wednesday night at Smokies Stadium.
The series opening victory was the ninth win in ten contests for Mobile and improved their South Division leading record to 28-17. The Smokies fell to 24-21 and dropped their fifth game in their last six meetings of 2014.
It was only the second time in Southern League history a player has left the yard four times in a contest, with the other occasion occurring on July 1, 1969 by George Kalafatis of the Montgomery Biscuits. Griffin crushed solo shots in the fifth and sixth frames, in addition to a three-run big fly in the seventh, before tying the record with a two-run longball in the ninth. Three of the four homers were hit to the opposite field in right, while his second of the evening was launched to straightaway center field.
The game featured seven roundtrippers in total between the two squads, five from Mobile and two from Tennessee. LF David Peralta added the other homer for the BayBears, while Bryant and SS Wes Darvill left the yard for the Smokies.
It was Peralta’s blast that started the scoring, a first-inning two-run blast that put Mobile up 2-0. Bryant would then answer with his solo shot, his league leading 12th of the season, in the bottom half of the opening frame.
The BayBears then fought right back with a trio of tallies in the second. CF Mike Freeman walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then scored when SS Sean Jamieson reached on a throwing error. Jamieson would advance to third on Martin’s single, with both eventually scoring on Peralta’s two-run two-bagger to left, extending the Mobile advantage to four.
Tennessee would plate their second tally of the game in the second on an RBI groundout, however the BayBears would strike back yet again. 2B Gerson Montilla reached on a base knock to right and would come around all the way from first on C Steve Rodriguez’s double to the right-center field gap, opening the margin to 6-2.
That margin would get extended to five in the fifth thanks to Griffin’s first longball of the evening, while 3B Jake Lamb later singled to right and went on to third on a base hit, before Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly brought him plateward as part of a two-run inning, making it 8-3. Griffin an inning later added his second solo shot for Mobile’s ninth score of the game.
The BayBears would then reach the double digit mark and then 15 with a six-spot in the seventh, half of which were a part of Griffin’s three-run homer. He would then add his fourth and final homer of the evening in the final inning with his two-run blast to right to complete his feat and put Mobile up 17-5.
Tennessee would score two tallies in each of the final two innings, with C Rafael Lopez carrying the load in the eighth, scoring Darvill and LF John Andreoli. Darvill would then smack his two-run shot in the following frame to cut the deficit to ten.
All but two of the starting nine in the BayBears batting order recorded a hit, sixth of whom collected multi-hit efforts. Griffin (5-6, 4 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI) led all hitters with four knocks, while Peralta (3-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB) and Montilla (3-6, 1 R) each recorded three hits.
Smokies starter Joel Pineiro (4.0 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) suffered the defeat after allowing eight runs, five of which were earned, on ten hits in four frames, while Mobile right-hander Bradin Hagens (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) earned the victory after giving up three earned runs on four hits in his seven frames. Relievers Seth Simmons (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO) and Jimmie Sherfy (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 SO) would each throw an inning to close it out for the BayBears.
Tennessee and Mobile are scheduled for a quick turnaround for the second game of their series, with first pitch Thursday set for 11:30 a.m. RHP Corey Black (2-4, 3.96) is expected to take the hill for the Smokies, while the BayBears are slated to give the ball to RHP A.J. Shugel (2-1, 3.06).
It’s a Kids Health and Safety Day at Smokies Stadium, with kids from several local county schools attending the contest and learning of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. As a result, no alcohol will be served during the contest.
Tickets for Thursday and all 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.