KODAK – Huntsville starter Drew Gagnon fired seven quality innings, yielding just two runs and fanning five, while the Stars plated five unanswered runs including two from second baseman Nick Shaw to top the Tennessee Smokies 5-2 and move into a three-way tie for first place in the North Division standings on Tuesday night at Smokies Stadium.
With the win the Smokies fell to 25-26 in the second half of the season and into a three-way tie at the top of the North Division. Huntsville improved to the same 25-26 mark to pull even with Tennessee, as well as the Chattanooga Lookouts, who beat the Jacksonville Suns for their tenth straight victory to make their way into the tie at the top.
Gagnon (7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) earned his ninth victory of the season with his seven solid innings of work, yielding two earned runs on six hits. Smokies starter Felix Pena (4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 1-2, while Huntsville reliever Tim Dillard (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) received his eighth hold and closer David Goforth (1.0 IP, 1 SO) notched his league-leading 24th save. Smokies relievers Hunter Cervenka (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO), Lendy Castillo (1.0 IP, 3 BB, 2 SO) and Tony Zych (1.0 IP, 1 SO) each fired a scoreless inning in support of Felix.
Following a trio of zeroes for both sides, the Smokies struck first with a pair of tallies off Gagnon. SS Addison Russell drew a free pass, and then moved to second on LF Lars Anderson’s base knock to right, before both came across on 3B Christian Villanueva’s double down the left field line to give Tennessee the early 2-0 advantage.
Huntsville, however, countered right back with a trio of scores in the subsequent half inning. After SS Yadiel Rivera led off the fifth with his second longball of the year to left-center, starting pitcher Drew Gagnon reached via a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then third via CF Josh Fellhauer’s base hit, prior to scoring on 1B Nick Ramirez’s RBI single to right to tie the game. That draw would be very short-lived though, as LF Hector Gimenez immediately followed with a run-scoring base knock to plate Fellhauer and give the Stars a 3-2 lead.
That margin would be extended to three in the very next inning with two more runs. 3B Hainley Statia led off the sixth with a single to left and RF Kentrail Davis walked, with both moving ahead 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt before being brought home on Shaw’s two-run single, moving Huntsville ahead 5-2.
Gimenez (2-4, 1 RBI) and Statia (2-3, 1 R, 1 BB) each recorded two base knocks to lead the Stars order, while CF Jae-Hoon Ha (2-3) was the lone Smokies batter to collect a multi-hit effort. The victory for Huntsville was their 12th in 16 matchups against Tennessee this season, including their ninth over the last ten meetings this season.
Russell (1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB) continued his recent roll at the plate by reaching base twice, and has now recorded a hit in 16 of his last 18 games dating back to July 24. In that span, the 20-year-old has posted a .377 batting average (16-69) with 14 runs, four doubles, five homers and 11 RBI.
The Smokies and Stars are slated to face off again Wednesday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Stadium. Tennessee is expected to give the ball to RHP Corey Black (5-7, 3.18), while Huntsville is anticipated to counter with RHP Jacob Barnes (2-5, 4.36).
It’s the final All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday of the regular season, meaning fans have one last chance to dine on a smorgasbord of a feast at the ballpark. For just $19.99, fans can get all the hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, French fries and Pepsi products they can handle, while kid’s all-you-can-eat packages are available for just $17.99.
In addition, individual ticket packages for Smokies Stadium’s new signature staple, Calhoun’s At The Yard, are available for Wednesday evening’s contest. In addition to a game ticket, those packages include an all-you-can-eat buffet provided by Calhoun’s, and a free Smokies baseball cap. Adult packages can be purchased for $32 dollars, while kids 12 and under packages are only $27 dollars.
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: