BIRMINGHAM – Addison Russell and Albert Almora both went 4-for-6 and Dustin Geiger drove in three runs while going 2-for-2 with three walks in Tennessee’s 11-8 victory versus the Birmingham Barons at Regions Field on Monday night.
The victory moved the Smokies (20-18, 53-54) back into first place in the second half standings by one-half game over the Barons (19-18, 48-59).
Russell, Almora and Geiger each doubled in the Tennessee victory and combined to score six runs between them. The Smokies collected 17 hits in the game including doubles from Russell, Almora, Geiger and Stephen Bruno. They also received a late home run from Lars Anderson in their game 3 (of 5) victory.
Tennessee was 8-for-20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 men on base. The Barons were 3-for-8 in the same spots, but stranded only three.
Eduardo Figueroa started for the Smokies and allowed two early runs, before retiring 10 straight batters between the third and seventh innings. Figueroa (2-1, 4.53) allowed five runs on four hits and earned the win. The Smokies are now 8-2 in games pitched by Figueroa.
Starter Angel Sanchez (1-11, 6.96) suffered the loss for the Barons. He allowed seven runs on 10 hits over five innings and walked four.
Geiger started the scoring in the second with a two-run single to right-center off Birmingham starter Angel Sanchez. The double scored Anderson and Charlie Cutler and put the Smokies up 2-0.
The Barons quickly tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second after Tennessee starter Eduardo Figueroa walked one and allowed two hits in the inning. Figueroa lost the two run lead in the second, but would recover and go on to retire the next 10 straight Birmingham batters.
The Smokies jumped back in front in the third after Anderson drove in Almora with a sacrifice fly to left. Almora started the third with a double off Sanchez and later moved to third on a single to short from Russell. He then trotted home on Anderson’s sacrifice fly to left and the Smokies took a 3-2 lead.
Tennessee added more to their lead in the fourth after scoring four times on five hits. Jonathan Mota started the rally with a single off Sanchez to start the inning, and Geiger followed with a double. Mota scored from first on Geiger’s extra base hit and put the Smokies up 4-2. Jae-Hoon Ha then moved Geiger to third with a single to short and Almora followed by driving in Geiger with a single to right.
The Smokies led 5-2 after Almora’s run, but that would be just the midway point of their scoring barrage. Moments later Russell followed with a RBI double and the Smokies took a 6-2 lead. A sacrifice fly from Christian Villanueva plated Almora later in the inning and Tennessee went out in front 7-2.
Sanchez left after the fifth and finished his start with seven runs and 10 hits allowed over five innings pitched. The Smokies added to their lead in the sixth with a two run inning off reliever Brandon Hardin.
Hardin allowed hits to Almora, Russell and Bruno in the inning. Tennessee scored twice in the inning and at the time led 9-2.
Figueroa pitched through the sixth and was able to hold the Barons to just two runs on two hits before the sixth. Birmingham rallied back in the game and finally got through against Figueroa with a three run sixth inning. The two hit and three run Barons’ sixth cut the Tennessee lead to 9-5.
Jared Mitchell sparked the rally with a one out walk and Trayce Thompson moved him to third with a double to left. Josh Richmond tripled to right-center and on the play both Mitchell and Thompson scored. A ground out by Rangel Ravelo later in the inning scored the final run of the inning and the Barons brought the Smokies down to 9-5.
Reliever Braulio Ortiz pitched the seventh and would allow a run and three hits. The Smokies loaded the bases in the seventh, but Ortiz escaped the inning with only run allowed. Ortiz allowed a run and three hits over two inning pitched.
Figueroa left after the sixth and the Smokies bullpen took over with the club leading 10-5. Zach Cates followed Figueroa and kept the Barons scoreless in the seventh before allowing two runs in the eighth.
Thompson and Kevan Smith both collected run scoring hits in the eighth and the Barons cut the Smokies lead down to 10-7. Cates gave up three hits and two runs in the eighth and was pulled from the game after retiring two batters in the inning.
Cates gave up two runs and three hits over an inning and 2/3. He also walked one and struck out two.
Batista wrapped up the eighth without allowing another run and the Smokies took a three run lead into the ninth.
Anderson provided them some breathing room with a solo home run to left and Tennessee went up 11-7. The home run was the first for Anderson as a member of the Smokies this season and his fifth overall this year.
The home run came off reliever Cody Winiarski and would give Batista added insurance to work with in the ninth.
Batista, like Winiarski, allowed a home run in the ninth, but the Barons scored just one run in the final inning and Tennessee took game 3 of the series 11-8. Batista allowed three hits and one run over an inning and a third while earning his eighth save of the year.