KODAK, Tenn. – Trailing throughout much of Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the Southern League Championship Series to the Jacksonville Suns, the Tennessee Smokies clawed their way back to tie the game up late. Tennessee was unable to answer a Jacksonville run in the ninth though and fell to the Suns, 7-6, in front of 2,338 at Smokies Park. The loss evens this week’s series at one game apiece.
Things looked good for Tennessee early on as the home team scored two in the second. Russ Canzler’s double off Suns’ starter Tom Koehler plated Robinson Chirinos to put Tennessee up 1-0. Canzler would score on Marwin Gonzalez’s single to make it 2-0 Smokies.
Jacksonville responded with four runs in the third to grab the lead. Matt Dominguez’s fielder’s choice put the Suns on the board. Teammate Ryan Curry followed with a ground-rule double to tie the game at two, and Jeff Corsaletti’s single to right plated two more to put Jacksonville up 4-2.
Brandon Guyer led off the bottom of the third with his second home run in as many nights, a 396-foot shot to left that cut Jacksonville’s lead to 4-3.
The two teams traded runs in the fourth. After Dominguez’ drove in another run to put the Suns up 5-3, Matt Spencer’s sacrifice fly to left scored Tony Thomas to bring the Smokies back to within one art 5-4.
Carpenter would be relieved in the fourth, having only thrown 3.2 innings. The righty allowed five runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking one. He would not factor in the decision.
Tennessee trio of Aaron Shafer, Marco Carrillo and Luke Sommer would hold Jacksonville scoreless over the next three innings. On a night though where the Smokies would go 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, Tennessee was unable to push across the tying run.
The Suns finally got to the Smokies bullpen in the eighth, as Matt Dominguez launched a solo home run off reliever Kyle Smit to extend the Suns’ lead to 6-4.
The Smokies found themselves in another prime situation in the eighth, with runners on second and third for Tony Campana. He delivered a clutch, two-out single to left to plate Canzler and Tony Thomas and tie the game up at six.
It would be for naught though as Jacksonville plated the winning run in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Corsaletti off Esmailin Caridad (0-1). Tennessee put the tying run on first in the bottom of the frame, but Blake Lalli grounded into a double play off Sandy Rosario (1-0) to end the game.
Following Thursday’s travel day, the two teams will resume their best-of-5 series at The Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Tennessee’s Trey McNutt (1.0, 1.80) will start Game 3 against Jacksonville’s Brad Hand (1-0, 0.00). Game 4 will be Saturday night at 7:35 p.m. and, if necessary, the series will conclude with a Game 5 Sunday at 7:05 p.m. in Jacksonville.