JACKSON, Tenn. (SUBMITTED) -- Through strong starting pitching and another night of home run power, the Tennessee Smokies took a two games to one lead over the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in the North Division Championship Series with a 9-2 victory in Game Three at Pringles Park on Saturday night.
The win gives Tennessee a chance to win the best of five series on Sunday night at Smokies Park. In their two wins in the series, the Smokies have outscored the Diamond Jaxx 20-3.
After making just three starts for Tennessee at the end of the year, starter Trey McNutt pitched like a veteran in Jackson. McNutt, a 32nd round selection by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, pitched five innings while just giving up one run on four hits. McNutt also recorded six strikeouts in his outing, which is his first win in Double-A baseball.
Tony Campana led off the game in rousing fashion with an inside the park homer to put the Smokies ahead 1-0. The inside-the-park blast is Campana’s first home run as a professional.
The Smokies plated two more runs in the top of the second, as Marwin Gonzalez and Camapana had back-to-back RBI singles to extend Tennessee’s advantage to 3-0. West Tenn would answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, as a wild pitch by McNutt brought in Alex Liddi to put the score at 3-1.
Tennessee erupted for three runs in the top of the fourth. Brandon Guyer’s sacrifice fly gave Tennessee a three run lead, before two more runs scored on Blake Lalli’s single to put the score at 6-1.
Robinson Chirinos was 2-2 in the game going into his at-bat following Lalli in the top of the fourth. Chirinos was hit in the hand by a Grube fastball and would not return after being hit by the pitch.
The Smokies continued pouring on the offense in the sixth inning. Russ Canzler hit a two-run homer to put the lead at 8-1. Matt Spencer made it back-to-back homers with his solo shot, his second of the North Division Championship Series, to extend the lead to 9-1.
Marco Carrillo took over for McNutt on the mound in the bottom of the sixth. Carrillo pitched three scoreless innings while only giving up one hit. James Leverton gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth, but got the final out to preserve the 9-2 win.
The Smokies have their first opportunity to win the North Division Championship in Sunday’s Game Four at Smokies Park. Tennessee will turn to Craig Muschko on the mound against West Tenn’s Steve Bray. The game begins at 7:15 p.m., and tickets are available by calling 865-286-2300, or visiting smokiesbaseball.com. Fans can also listen to the contest on the Smokies Radio Network.
Courtesy: Smokies baseball