Smokies Blast Past M-Braves 8-2


Smokies first baseman Dustin Geiger drove in three runs and collected two hits, including a two-run homer, while relievers Jeff Lorick, Lendy Castillo and Armando Rivero combined for the final four shutout innings as Tennessee rallied past the Mississippi Braves 8-2 on Friday night at Smokies Stadium.

With the win, the Smokies upped their record to 32-35 on the year, while Mississippi dropped to 38-29, and are officially eliminated from the first half South Division championship race. Tennessee now owns a 2-1 advantage in the series, with a chance to clinch the five-game set Saturday night.

Both teams wasted no time scoring, with each trading single tallies in the opening frame. LF Cedric Hunter put the M-Braves on the board in the top of the first with a solo blast to right, his sixth longball of the campaign, while the Smokies would answer with a clutch two-out hit of their own. After CF Jae-Hoon Ha reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, C Charlie Cutler sent Ha home with an RBI single to left, evening the score at 1-1.

Two frames later, both clubs would again swap scores. Mississippi starting pitcher J.R. Graham helped his own cause with a double to left, before being brought home on Hunter’s run-scoring single to left, putting the M-Braves up 2-1.

The advantage would be short-lived however with Tennessee answering right back to make it 2-2. Ha smacked his second leadoff hit of the contest, this time a two-bagger off the base of the center field wall, before coming across on 3B Kris Bryant’s run-scoring base knock to left.

The tie would remain until the sixth, when the Smokies burst the tie with their four-run sixth. Bryant began the rally with a free pass, and then advanced to second on Cutler’s walk, before being driven home on Geiger’s RBI single to left. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Cutler came plateward when LF Jonathan Mota reached base on an error before 2B Jeudy Valdez’s two-run infield single capped the big inning, putting Tennessee up 6-2.

Geiger was not done however, adding to the tally with his two-run blast in the subsequent inning. Cutler was hit by a pitch, before Geiger launched his ninth longball of the season, an opposite field shot to right, to increase the Smokies’ margin to six.

Tennessee starter Matt Loosen (5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) did not factor in the decision after allowing two earned runs on five hits, adding five strikeouts in five innings, while Lorick (1.0 IP, 1 H), Castillo (2.0 IP, 2 SO) and Rivero (1.0 IP, 1 H) combined for the last four frames of three-hit ball. Lorick earned his first win of the year, while Braves reliever John Cornely (0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB) suffered his second loss of 2014.

Geiger (2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and Ha (2-5, 2 R, 1 2B) each recorded multi-hit efforts to lead the Smokies offense, while Hunter (3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI) led the M-Braves with a game-high three base knocks, in addition to two RBI. After reaching base twice, Bryant extended his hit streak to eight consecutive contests, in addition to his on-base streak to 18, and continues to pace the Southern League in ten different offensive categories, including all three Triple Crown statistics.

Tennessee will look to clinch the series Saturday evening at Smokies Stadium, with the Smokies set to give the ball to RHP Joe Gardner (1-0, 2.35), while the M-Braves are slated to send RHP Mitch Atkins (1-0, 1.64) to the hill. First pitch for the fourth game of the series is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. in Kodak.

It’s Pink Ribbon Survivors Night at the ballpark, presented by Knoxville Komen for the Cure. The Smokies will be recognizing cancer survivors before the game, as well as during, in addition to offering ticket specials, while the players and coaches will be wearing special pink ribbon jerseys to be auctioned off. Proceeds will benefit Knoxville Komen for the Cure. In addition, the Sweetright Brothers will be on hand with their antics to entertain fans, while the Medic Blood Drive bus will also be parked in front of the stadium.

Tickets for that game and all remaining 2014 Smokies home games are still available and can be purchased online at, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.

Listen to Manager Buddy Bailey’s postgame comments below:

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Categories: Game Recap


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