The Smokies came back from a two-run deficit with a three-run bottom of the eighth, while shortstop Elliot Soto and third baseman Jonathan Mota each recorded three hits and right fielder Kevin Brown drove in two runs to give Tennessee a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Montgomery Biscuits on Tuesday night at Smokies Stadium.
The victory improves the Smokies’ record to 9-4 in the second half, in addition to a 42-40 overall mark and a 2-1 lead in the series. Montgomery, meanwhile, fell to 6-7 since the Southern League All-Star break and also a game below the .500 mark at 41-42 for the entire 2014 campaign.
Entering the bottom of the eighth trailing Montgomery by two runs, the Smokies erased the deficit and then took the lead with their three-run comeback rally. DH Charlie Cutler began it all with a free pass, while Mota and C Luis Flores followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases for CF Jae-Hoon Ha, who sent in Cutler with an infield single to third. After Mota scored on a force out to even the contest, Soto’s run-scoring single brought home Flores to put Tennessee up for good at 6-5.
The Biscuits an inning prior had taken their second lead of the game with a three-run frame of their own. CF Joey Rickard began the seventh with a single to left, while RF Taylor Motter and 1B Cameron Seitzer drew walks to fill the bases. After a forceout at the plate, DH Alejandro Segovia cleared the basepaths with a three-run double off the center field wall to push Montgomery ahead 5-3.
Tennessee wasted no time getting on the board, scoring a single tally in the opening frame with small ball. Soto led off the Smokies order with a base on balls and then advanced to third on a base knock to left, before coming across on a double play groundout to grab the early 1-0 advantage.
Montgomery would then strike back with a two-run sixth inning courtesy of both small ball and the longball. 3B Richie Shaffer began the rally with a double to left and moved on to third on a groundout before being brought in on SS Hector Guevara’s sacrifice fly to right, evening the game at 1-1. C Jake DePew would immediately put the Biscuits ahead on the very next pitch with a solo blast to left, his first homer of the year.
The Smokies would answer right away with two scores of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Cutler reached with a lead-off base knock and then took second when Flores reached on a throwing error, before both came plateward courtesy of Brown’s two-run triple to deep right, moving the Tennessee advantage to 3-2.
Smokies reliever Zach Cates (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO) earned his first Double-A victory after firing a scoreless eighth inning and fanning two batters, while closer Frank Batista (1.0 IP, 1 SO) notched his third save in as many chances with a flawless final frame. Montgomery left-hander Braulio Lara (0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB) suffered the defeat to fall to 1-1 after yielding three earned runs on three hits without recording an out.
Soto (3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB) and Mota (3-4, 1 R, 1 2B) led all batters with three hits each, and Brown (2-4, 1 3B, 2 RBI) and Cutler also recorded multi-hit efforts in the win, while Rickard (2-3, 2 BB) and Shaffer (2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB) paced the Biscuits bats with two hits each. In his three games at the Double-A level since being promoted from Single-A Boise on June 29, Brown has accumulated a .417 average (5-12) with two runs and two RBI.
The two clubs are set to face off again on Wednesday evening for the fourth game of the five-game series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Stadium. RHP Angel Sanchez (0-1, 8.00) is expected to take the ball for the Biscuits, while Tennessee has not yet announced their starting pitcher.
Fans will want to come to the stadium hungry and prepared for a feast as part of All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday. For just $19.99, fans can get all the hot dogs, popcorn, corn dogs, nachos and Pepsi products they can handle, while kids 12 and under can purchase this package for just $17.99.
Tickets for that game and the remainder of the Smokies’ 2014 home schedule are still available and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 286-2300.
Listen to Manager Buddy Bailey’s post-game press conference below: