MOBILE – Pin-Chieh Chen, Addison Russell, Lars Anderson and Christian Villanueva each came through with run scoring hits and Felix Pena shutout the BayBears into the sixth as the Smokies won their eighth shutout of the year 5-0 in Mobile on Wednesday night.
The Tennessee (24-22, 57-58) victory put the first place Smokies up a game and a half in the Southern League North second half standings over Birmingham.
Mobile (26-18, 68-45) fell to two and a half games out of first in the Southern League South second half standings with the loss.
Pena, in his second Southern League start, allowed just three hits while blanking the BayBears over five and 1/3 innings pitched. He walked two and struck out eight. Pena (1-1, 4.82) walked Tom Belza to start the first and gave up a hit in the inning, but would leave the inning without allowing a run.
Mobile left two on in the first and six total base runners in the loss. They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The Smokies were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
Chen, Tennessee’s leadoff man, drove in the first run of the game with a run scoring double in the third. His hit scored catcher Luis Flores, who reached earlier in the inning on a single to center, and gave the Smokies a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Russell added a double of his own and Chen would score to put Tennessee up 2-0.
Chen and Russell both doubled off Mobile starter Braden Shipley in the third. Shipley allowed three hits and two runs in the inning and would allow three runs on five hits over six. The Mobile right hander faced 27 batters in his Southern League debut and finished with four walks and five strikeouts.
The Smokies scored their final run against him in the sixth. Anderson ripped another RBI double off Shipley in the sixth to give the Smokies a 3-0 lead. Anderson’s extra base hit scored Russell and was the third double allowed by Shipley in the game.
Pena, meanwhile, pitched through the fifth and into the sixth. The Tennessee starter allowed just three hits over five and 1/3 scoreless innings.
Tony Zych followed Pena in the sixth and would strand two inherited runners. He allowed one hit in the inning and would get out of a bases loaded jam when the Smokies defense turned a double play behind him.
Catcher Mark Thomas grounded into the double play turn that ended the inning for Mobile. Villanueva started the turn by fielding the Thomas grounder, stepping on third and then throwing to first to get Thomas. Anderson scooped Villanueva’s low throw at first and the Smokies escaped the bases loaded jam with allowing a run.
Zych allowed a hit over two-thirds of an inning. Lefty Andrew McKirahan pitched an inning and two-thirds and would keep the BayBears scoreless while allowing just two hits. P.J. Francescon retired one batter in the eighth and Frank Batista worked the ninth while finishing the game for Tennessee.
Batista came in for the ninth in a non-save chance after the Smokies tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the same inning. Villanueva managed to drive in two with a single left off reliever Jimmie Sherfy and Tennessee took a 5-0 lead.
Sherfie worked the ninth and allowed two runs on three hits. He also walked one and struck out one. Kyle Winkler followed Shipley and pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out two.
The victory was Tennessee’s third in a row. Second place Birmingham lost its fifth straight and fell to a game and a half out of first in the Southern League North second half standings behind Tennessee.
The five game series continues on Thursday night with Corey Black (5-6, 2.85) scheduled to start for the Smokies. Black is matched up against Mobile’s Michael Lee (7-5, 4.49).