KODAK, Tenn. (Smokies Baseball) – An uncharacteristic night for the Tennessee Smokies and starter Chris Archer led to an 8-3 defeat to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in front of 2,509 Thursday night at Smokies Park. The loss puts the Smokies in a 1-0 hole in the best-of-5 Southern League North Division Championship Series.
Archer did well early, striking out the first two West Tenn batters he faced as part of a 1-2-3 inning in the first. The Diamond Jaxx would get to him though in the second as Carlos Peguero’s single to center plated two to put West Tenn up 2-0.
The long ball would victimize Tennessee in the fourth. Guillermo Quiroz’s leadoff solo shot was followed by teammate Nate Tenbrink’s three-run home run to put the Diamond Jaxx up 6-0. After two more hitters reached base, Archer (0-1) would be relieved by teammate Kyle Smit.
West Tenn wasn’t done though in the fourth. With two outs, Quiroz came up again and delivered for the Diamond Jaxx. His single to left off Smit brought in two more to extend West Tenn’s lead to 8-0.
The Smokies finally answered in the bottom of the frame. Russ Canzler followed Blake Lalli’s leadoff single with a two-run blast over the wall in center to cut West Tenn’s lead to 8-2. Tony Campana followed later in the frame with a bases-loaded single to plate Matt Spencer and cut Tennessee’s deficit to 8-3.
Still in the bottom of the fourth and with only one out, Brett Jackson looked to bring in at least one more with a hard liner to third. West Tenn’s Alex Liddi had other plans though, snaring the line drive and doubling up Tony Thomas at third to end the Smokies rally.
The 8-3 score would hold up for the rest of the game. While Smit combined with fellow reliever Ryan Buchter and Aaron Shafer to scatter four hits over six scoreless innings, Tennessee’s offense wasn’t able to muster any additional offense against Munoz (1-0) and the Diamond Jaxx bullpen.
Aside from last week’s two-inning tune-up against Carolina in preparation for tonight’s opener, Archer’s three-inning stint was his shortest in a Smokies uniform. He gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits, walking three and striking out three in suffering the loss.
Tennessee will look to even the series with West Tenn Friday at 7:15 at Smokies Park. West Tenn’s Anthony Vasquez (2-3, 2.61) will start against Chris Carpenter (8-6, 3.16) for the Smokies. Tickets for Friday’s Game 2, which will include a post-game fireworks show, can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.