JACKSON – The Smokies erased a late three run deficit with four runs and six hits in the eighth and left Generals Park with a 6-5 win over the Generals on Friday night. Elliot Soto drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the eighth.
The win was Tennessee’s fourth straight and lifted their second half record to 7-2. The win was also the first for Tennessee (7-2,40-38) this season when trailing after seven innings on the road.
Reliever Tony Zych pitched the sixth and seventh for the Smokies and earned the win. Zych (2-3, 3.72) kept the Generals (2-7, 33-45) without a run over two innings and allowed just one hit. He is now 1-1 in June with a 0.68 ERA over nine games and 13 and 1/3 innings pitched. Zych has allowed just one earned run and has struck out nine in June.
Frank Batista allowed one hit and walked one in the ninth, but struck out Seattle Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson to end the game. Batista (S, 2) stranded two runners on base in the ninth and earned his second save in two tries this season.
Dustin Geiger got the Smokies started out on the right foot in the first as he delivered a run batted in single off Jackson starter Tyler Pike. Geiger’s hit put the Smokies up by one and Rubi Silva extended the lead to two with a RBI force out.
Pike escaped the first with just two runs allowed despite throwing over 30 pitches in the inning. He also escaped a bases loaded jam in the second and left after just two innings pitched.
With Pike limiting the early damage, the Generals rallied back in the third with three runs off Tennessee starter Eduardo Figueroa. The rally started with a leadoff home run from designated hitter Kevin Rivers.
The Rivers home run put the Generals on the board for the first time and was his third of the season. It also cut the lead to 3-1 with top of the order set to bat against Figueroa for the second time.
With one out in the inning, leadoff man Ketel Marte doubled to left and scored moments later when Leon Landry doubled to right. Landry went on to steal third later in the inning and then on Peterson’s single to left-center.
The Generals collected five hits and scored three times in the third and took a 3-2 lead. All three runs were earned to Figueroa. He pitched through the third, but that was it for the Smokies starter. Figueroa allowed three runs on seven hits over three innings pitched.
Reliever Zach Cates entered the game for Tennessee for the fourth and fifth and would allow two runs over two innings pitched. Rivers forced in another run with a bunt to third in the fourth and ground out from Marder later in the inning brought in the second Generals run in the fourth.
Jackson led 5-2 after the fourth and with Pike out they turned things to the bullpen to hold the lead. Forrest Snow worked the third through the sixth and kept the Smokies scoreless while allowing just two hits and striking out five.
Generals reliever David Colvin followed Snow’s strong effort with a scoreless seventh. However, Colvin would not find the same success in the eighth.
Stephen Bruno led off the eighth with a single to left-center and Christian Villanueva followed with a single to right. Colvin then struck out Geiger, but would go on to allow a RBI pinch hit single to Charlie Cutler and the Smokies cut the lead to 5-3.
The Smokies half of the eighth continued with a strikeout by Anthony Giansanti and Colvin was pulled from the game. Reliever Mayckol Guaipe entered and immediately allowed a RBI single to Tennessee catcher Luis Flores. The Flores single was the fourth for the Smokies in the inning and cut the lead down to 5-4.
With Guaipe (BS, 1-2, 2.65) still in, Jonathan Mota came up and delivered another single for the Smokies. Mota’s RBI hit scored Cutler and tied the game at five apiece. Soto broke the tie with a line drive single to center and the Smokies took a 6-5 lead.
The Smokies lead the five game series four games to none with the finale set for a 7:05 PM EST first pitch on Saturday night in Jackson.
Tennessee turns to starter Joe Gardner (1-1, 3.62) for the finale of the series on Saturday night in Jackson. Gardner will look to lead the Smokies to their first sweep of an opponent this season. He is matched up against Jackson right-hander Matt Anderson (2-3, 5.31).