BIRMINGHAM – Albert Almora hit his first Southern League home run, but the Barons pounded out three home runs of their own and the Smokies lost the finale of their five game series in Birmingham 7-3 at Regions Field on Wednesday night.
The Smokies (20-20, 53-56) dropped to a game and a half back of the Barons (21-18, 50-59) in the Second Half standings with the loss. The Birmingham victory was also the series clincher as they won the five game set three games to two.
Miles Jaye started for the Barons and pitched eight full innings with just one run allowed. Jaye (3-9, 5.83) walked one, struck out one and made it through eight on 90 pitches.
Tennessee did strike first in the game after getting a run on Almora’s solo home run in the third. The homer was a two-out blast and was the first home run for Almora since his promotion to Double-A.
The 1-0 Smokies lead only lasted a couple of innings as the Barons rallied back in the fifth with three runs and four hits. The rally started with Tennessee starter Jeffry Antigua giving up a leadoff double to Chris Curley. Antigua (0-2, 3.58) was able to get the next batter, Grant Buckner, to hit into a ground out in front of the plate, but Curley advanced to third on the play. The ninth batter in the lineup, Dan Wagner, then tripled to right-center and Curley scored from third to tie the game 1-1.
With the game tied 1-1, the Barons turned their lineup over and their leadoff man Jared Mitchell reached on a single to center. That hit set things up for Trayce Thompson who then crushed a home run to left to put the Barons out in front 3-1.
Thompson’s home run was his 12th and the second allowed by Antigua this season. The Barons collected four hits in the fifth after collecting just four over the first four innings.
Antigua stayed in for the sixth and would finish his start with three runs allowed over six full innings. He allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out two. The Tennessee starter gave up three runs and suffered the loss.
Tony Zych followed Antigua and after pitching a scoreless seventh would allow four runs in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff home run to Mitchell to start the inning and after walking three would give up sacrifice fly and a two run triple.
Christian Marrero drove in the second of those four with a sacrifice fly to center. Curley then brought in two with a run batted in triple to right to give the Barons a 7-1 lead.
Zych allowed four runs on two hits over an inning and 2/3. The right-hander also walked three in his appearance. He left after retiring two in the in the eighth and the Smokies went with Lendy Castillo to finish the inning. Castillo retired Buckner with one pitch on a fly out to center to end the inning.
The Smokies trailed 7-1 heading into the ninth when Charlie Cutler hit a two-run home run to straightaway right. The home run came off reliever Cody Winiarski after he entered the game in place of Jaye after he pitched eight complete.
Winiarski allowed two runs and two hits over one while pitching the ninth.
The Smokies were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded five men on base. They hit two home runs in the loss and fell further behind the Barons in the standings.
The Barons were 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded four.