Braves Beat Smokies 6-4 In Seesaw Affair


Mississippi catcher Matt Kennelly collected three hits and drove in two runs, while third baseman Kyle Kubitza tripled home Kennelly in the eighth inning for what turned out to be the winning run as the M-Braves triumphed for a 6-4 win over the Tennessee Smokies in a back-and-forth contest on Saturday evening at Smokies Stadium.

The win forces sets up a rubber match in tomorrow afternoon’s first half finale, with the Braves improving their 2014 record to 39-29. Tennessee dropped to 32-26 on the season with the loss.

Before and during the contest, the Smokies recognized survivors of breast cancer as part of Pink Ribbon Survivors’ Night, with a special pre-game ceremony, while Tennessee players and coaches wore special jerseys with pink piping. During the second inning, the game was stopped and both teams lined the foul lines, as a special group of survivors circled the bases, with players and coaches from both sides high-fiving the group. Several of the Smokies’ jerseys were also auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Knoxville Komen For The Cure.

Tennessee struck first with a single tally in the opening frame. 2B Stephen Bruno lined a single to center, and then circled the bases to score on C Charlie Cutler’s run-scoring double to right to push the Smokies up 1-0.

The margin would subsequently double to two in the third. Starting pitcher Joe Gardner helped his own cause with a base knock to left before Bruno was hit by a pitch and Cutler walked to load the bases for 1B Dustin Geiger, who brought in Gardner with a single to center. Bruno would be thrown out on the play at home to end the inning and halt the Smokies threat.

That two-run advantage would be short-lived however, as Mississippii evened the contest at 2-2 in the fourth. After SS Gustavo Nunez and CF Mycal Jones both reached on singles, Nunez moved to third on a double play prior to 1B Seth Loman’s free pass. With runners at the corners, C Matt Kennelly drove a single through the right side of the infield on a hit and run to send in Nunez, while Loman later was brought home 3B Kyle Kubitza’s ground-rule double to left to draw the game.

The M-Braves would then move ahead with help from the longball in the following frame. RF Derrick Mitchell led off the top of the fifth with his first smash of the year to left, giving Mississippi their first lead of the contest at 3-2.

Tennessee, however, would grab the advantage back in the bottom of the seventh with a roundtripper of their own. 3B Kris Bryant began the frame with a double down the left field line, and would come across when pinch hitter Taylor Davis drove his second homer of the year to the opposite field over the right field fence to push the Smokies up 4-3.

Mssissippi would answer right back though, placing a two-spot in the very next half inning. LF Cedric Hunter was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then advanced to second on a groundout, before being sent in on Kennelly’s double to left. 3B Kyle Kubitza then followed with an RBI triple to left-center to bring home Kennelly and move the Braves back in front for good at 5-4. Mississippi would then add an insurance run in the ninth on Jones’ RBI single to center to move ahead by two.

Smokies southpaw reliever Hunter Cervenka (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year, while Braves relief man Terry Doyle (2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 SO) earned the win and James Hoyt notched his sixth save. Neither Gardner (5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO), nor Mississippi starting pitcher and former Tennessee Smokie Mitch Atkins (5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) factored in the final decisions.

Kennelly (3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI) led all batters with three hits, with Kubitza (2-3, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB), Jones (2-4, 1 RBI) and Nunez (2-5, 1 R) also recording a multi-hit effort for the Braves, while Bruno was the lone Smokies batter to collect two base knocks in the contest. Bryant reached base twice for the seventh consecutive game, and has now recorded a hit in nine straight contests, while also reaching base in each of this last 19 tilts.

Tennessee and Mississippi are scheduled to finish their five-game series and first half Sunday afternoon, with first pitch set for 2:00 p.m. in Kodak. The Smokies have not yet announced their starting pitcher, while the Braves are anticipated to give the nod to RHP Aaron Northcraft.(7-3, 2.84).

Fans will be sure to want to arrive early for a Father’s Day Catch in the outfield at Smokies Stadium, with fathers and their kids able to play catch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., with gates open at 12:15 p.m. Every father through the gates will also have the opportunity to register to win tons of great gifts, while it’s also Superhero Day, with fans encouraged to dress up like their favorite superhero character. In addition, it’s another U.S. Cellular Family FUNday, with fans able to purchase four tickets, four meal vouchers and four Kids Zone tickets for just $48 dollars.

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 press conference below:


Categories: Game Recap


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