Sevierville, TN – Tennessee Smokies pitcher Mark Holliman no-hit the Huntsville Stars in game 1 of a double-header at Smokies Park on Thursday night as the Smokies won 3-0. An appreciative, early arriving crowd cheered Holliman (7-5) as the last batter was retired, and greeting him with a standing ovation during the post-game celebration.
Holliman was dominating from start to finish in game 1 tonight, facing just one batter more than the minimum. His only blemish on the night was a leadoff walk to Adam Heether in the third inning. Holliman fanned three batters through seven innings to notch his seventh win of the season.
The no-hitter was the third ever in the history of Smokies Park since opening on April 20, 2000. Smokies pitcher Leo Estrella threw a six-inning no-hitter against the Orlando Rays on May 27, 2000. Orlando Rays pitcher Gerardo Garcia returned the favor to the Smokies on May 21, 2002, throwing a seven-inning no-hitter during a double header.
Sam Fuld got the Smokies offense going early tonight with a lead off home run off Stars pitcher Corey Thurman (2-4), his second of the season, to give the Smokies a 1-0 advantage in the 1st inning.
The rest of the game belonged to Holliman, as he mowed down the Stars batters one after another. For the game, Holliman threw 81 pitches, inducing twelve groundouts and six fly outs. To further help his cause, Holliman belted a two-run home run over the left field fence after a Jorge Cortes double to stake the Smokies to a 3-0 lead. He let his arm do the rest of the job. The entire Smokies team mobbed him after retiring Brenden Katin on a groundout to end the game, and tipped his cap to the fans during a post-game appreciative standing ovation.
In game 2 of the double header, the Smokies completed the sweep with an impressive 4-2 victory over Huntsville. Matt Avery got the spot start for the Smokies, and pitched well in his first start after a rough beginning. Avery went three innings, giving up two runs and walking three batters. Adalberto Mendez (2-4) came in for two innings of scoreless relief to get the win, and Jim Henderson notched his fifth save as a Smokie in his return appearance after a stint in AAA Iowa.
Huntsville jumped on Avery early in the 2nd game, plating two runs to take a 2-0 lead. Tennessee struck back in their half of the 1st inning with three runs of their own to regain the lead. The Smokies were aided by a couple of Stars errors in the inning, which helped score Jemel Spearman to get things going. The real damage was done by Issmael Salas with a two run single to score Casey McGehee and Jake Fox to stake the Smokies to at 3-2 lead.
Tennessee never looked back after the first inning, and plated another run in the bottom of the third to go up 4-2. All in all, the Smokies touched up Stars starter Steve Hammond (3-7) for four runs, only one of which was earned. Mendez and Henderson slammed the door on the Stars offense to help Tennessee improve to 3-1 in the 2nd half of the season.
The Smokies will take on the Huntsville Stars again on Friday night at Smokies Park beginning at 7:15 pm. The Smokies will send left-hander Donnie Veal (4-4, 5.54) to the hill to face Stars left-hander Lindsay Gulin (4-3, 4.11).