HUNTSVILLE – Reliever P.J. Francescon gave up a game winning single to Huntsville catcher Adam Weisenburger in the 11th and the Smokies lost in the final inning for the third straight game 2-1 at Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium on Wednesday night.
Francescon (5-4) walked one, and allowed two hits in the final inning. He recorded two outs as well, but was not able to finish the inning and lost in the final frame for the second time in the series. He blew a save chance and lost a lead in game one of the series on Monday night.
Tommy Toledo (2-0) pitched the tenth and eleventh innings for the Stars (36-17) and earned the win. He walked two, but kept the Smokies (26-26) scoreless and without a hit over two innings pitched.
The Stars struck first after squeezing in a run in the fifth. Catcher Shawn Zarraga started the inning with a double and moved to third on a single to center from Nick Shaw. Rhee followed with a strikeout of Brent Suter, but a bunt single to first by Josh Prince brought in Zarraga for the game’s first run.
Kris Bryant tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth with a solo home run off Huntsville starter Brent Suter. The home run was his Southern League best 15th of the season. Bryant was 4-for-4 in the game and is league leader in average (.349), hits (65) and on-base percentage (.452) this season.
Dae-Eun Rhee started for the Smokies and turned in one of his best starts of the season. Rhee pitched through seven full innings and allowed just one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out eight, but did not earn a decision.
Arodys Vizcaino followed and pitched a scoreless eighth. He struck out two, walked one and did not allow a hit in his appearance. Hunter Cervenka also appeared for the Smokies. Cervenka pitched a scoreless ninth and tenth while allowing two hits and striking out two.
Suter started for the Stars and matched Rhee in innings pitched and runs allowed. He left after the seventh and allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out six. Bryant’s home run was the only run allowed by Suter in the game.
The loss dropped the Smokies to 9.5 games back of first place Huntsville. It was also their third straight loss in the series, and seventh loss over the last 10 games.
The series continues on Thursday night with Joe Gardner set to start for the Smokies against Huntsville’s Jacob Barnes.