Zebulon, NC- The Tennessee Smokies used pitching and defense to overtake the Carolina Mudcats by the score of 2-1 on Monday night at Five County Stadium. The victory gives Tennessee a 41-24 overall record and a four game lead in the North Division with only five games to play in the first half of the season.
Tennessee would take an early lead in the first inning when Marwin Gonzalez hit a one out double to left field. Ryan Flaherty grounded out to first base to advance Gonzalez to third and with a single by Rebel Ridling, Gonzalez would score to put the Smokies ahead 1-0. Tennessee added their second run of the game in the top of the second inning as Josh Vitters doubled to left field with one out. Junior Lake would walk and RHP Robert Coello (1-2) singled to load the bases. Brett Jackson hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Vitters and giving the Smokies a 2-0 lead.
After seven scoreless innings, the Mudcats scored their lone run in the bottom of the eighth inning as Quintin Berry led off the inning with a double. Henry Rodriguez followed up with a single to right field to put runners on first and third with no outs. Mike Costanzo would then ground into a double play to second base, scoring Berry and cutting the Tennessee lead to 2-1.
RHP Robert Coello (1-2) got the win for the Smokies as he pitched six shutout innings and only giving up three hits. Relievers RHP Ryan Searle and RHP Kevin Rhoderick combined for two innings pitched, giving up one run on three hits, while RHP Rafael Dolis pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his seventh save of the season. RHP Tim Gustafson (1-6) received the loss for Carolina, allowing two runs on seven innings pitched in six innings.
The Smokies and will return home on Wednesday to face the Chattanooga Lookouts. LHP Brooks Raley (3-5, 4.84 ERA) will start for Tennessee and the Lookouts will call on RHP Chris Withrow (2-5, 4.86 ERA). The first game of the series is schedule for a 7:15 p.m. start. Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.