Tennessee first baseman Dustin Geiger collected two hits, including a two-run homer, while starting pitcher Julio Rodriguez struck out six in 5.1 innings of work in his 2014 affiliated ball debut as the Smokies took down the Mobile BayBears 7-2 in front of 5,396 fans on Sunday evening at Smokies Stadium.
Tennessee improved their 2014 record to 26-23 on the season with the win, while Mobile dropped to 30-19 on the season. Despite the loss, the BayBears come away with a 3-2 series win after clinching the series with their victory on Saturday night.
The Smokies’ scoring started in the first thanks to aggressive baserunning by CF Rubi Silva. After doubling to left, Silva advanced to third on a groundout by beating a throw across the diamond from first, and then scored when the throw sailed over the third baseman to put Tennessee up 1-0.
The home club would strike again with a four-spot in the fourth. C Rafael Lopez began the rally with a single, while Geiger doubled to put runners at second and third for 2B Wes Darvill, who brought both in with a two-run triple down the first base line. After Darvill came across on SS Jeudy Valdez’s RBI base knock, Valdez moved to second and would subsequently score when CF Jae-Hoon Ha capped the frame’s scoring spurt with his run-scoring base hit to center.
Tennessee went on to add two more runs thanks to Geiger’s sixth longball of the season. LF Charlie Cutler singled to right, before coming home on Geiger’s two-run blast, the 22-year-old’s first of the season since April 27 versus Huntsville.
Mobile would get two of those tallies back in the sixth to erase the Smokies’ shutout thoughts. RF Dustin Martin reached on a leadoff single, and then would come all the way around to score on CF David Peralta’s RBI double to put the BayBears on the board. Peralta later was sent home on 3B Jake Lamb’s run-scoring two-bagger to center.
Geiger (2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI), Lopez (2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB) and Valdez (2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI) all recorded two hits apiece for Tennessee in the win, while Martin (2-4, 1 R, 1 2B) and Lamb (2-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI) each tallied multi-hit efforts for the BayBears. Smokies 3B Kris Bryant failed to record a hit, snapping a ten-game hit streak during which he hit for a .405 average (15-37) with seven runs, four doubles, three homers and 13 RBI.
Tennessee starter Julio Rodriguez (5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO) in his Smokies debut earned the victory after striking out six BayBears batters, in addition to yielding a lone earned run on three hits in 5.1 frames, and marked the right-hander’s first victory in affiliated ball since August 23, 2012. Mobile starter Mike Lee (4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) suffered the defeat, while relievers Hunter Cervenka (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 SO), Arodys Vizcaino (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) and Armando Rivero (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 SO) joined forces in support of Rodriguez to finish the job.
The Smokies now hits the road for a crucial five-game series with the first-place Huntsville Stars, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, at Joe W. Davis Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama, with Tennessee trailing the Stars by 6.5 games with 20 contests remaining in the first half. Right-hander Joel Pineiro (0-1, 7.00 ERA) is set to get the nod for Tennessee, while Huntsville is set to send righty Tyler Cravy (7-1, 1.82) to the mound.
The Smokies will then return home to Kodak on Saturday, May 31 to start a five-game set with the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. First pitch for that contest is set for 7:15 p.m. Tickets for that contest 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.