Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT/Submitted) -- The Tennessee Smokies (25-19, 59-54) stopped the Jacksonville Suns’ (27-17, 61-50) 11-game winning streak in grand fashion Tuesday evening behind the no-hit bid of left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch. Making his first start since being placed on the disabled list on July 31 with arm fatigue, the 24-year-old showed no signs of weariness while tossing108 pitches in the first nine-inning no-hitter since Leo Estrella tossed one in a 3-0 victory against Orlando in 2000. Mark Holliman threw the last no-no for Tennessee – a seven-inning affair – in 2007 against Huntsville in a 3-0 win.
Jokisch retired the first ten batters he faced in order – striking out five - but allowed a one-out walk to Chris Gutierrez in the bottom of the fourth to lose a shot at a perfect game. The former Northwestern Wildcat cruised through the next two innings, retiring the side in order during the fifth and sixth innings.
After working around two-out walks in the seventh and eighth innings, Jokisch entered the ninth having thrown 99 pitches. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound lefty delivered a first pitch fastball to Suns’ center fielder Isaac Galloway, who lined out sharply to third baseman Christian Villanueva. Shortstop Javier Baez saved the no-no in the following at-bat when Chris Gutierrez looped a soft blooper behind the second base bag, causing Baez to dive and snag the ball before it hit the ground.
Jokisch walked Derek Dietrich with two outs before relief pitcher Pete Andrelczyk grounded into a 5-3 putout to complete the no-hit affair. With the win, Jokisch improved to 9-10 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.57 while Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.00) took the loss.
Tennessee jumped on Heaney early in the top of the first inning when Matt Szczur set the table with a leadoff double – his 21st of the season – to left field. Rubi Silva followed Szczur and brought home the Smokies’ first run with a single to center for a 1-0 lead. Tennessee was not finished as shortstop Javier Baez doubled for the seventh time in a Smokies’ uniform, scoring Silva to push the advantage to 2-0. Catcher Rafael Lopez scored Baez three batters later on the Smokies’ fourth hit in the inning, this one a RBI-single to right field giving Tennessee a 3-0 edge.
The Smokies continued to rough up Heaney in the second inning. After Jokisch reached first base on a one-out single and Silva moved him to third with a hit of his own, Baez plated the Smokies’ starter on a sharp single to left field for a 4-0 Tennessee lead. Jokisch helped his own cause in the top of the third with his second hit of the ballgame. After John Andreoli and Jonathan Mota moved into scoring position on a double steal with Jokisch batting, the southpaw slapped a ground ball to center field, bringing home Andreoli and pushing the Smokies’ lead to 5-0.
Collin Cargill relieved Heaney in the fourth frame, but the pitching change did not stop the Tennessee offense. After two singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, Andreoli brought in Baez on a sacrifice fly to left field. A batter later, Mota knocked in his 27th and 28th RBIs on a RBI-double to center field, giving Tennessee an 8-0 cushion.
Baez carried the Smokies onslaught into the fifth inning. After Silva reached first base on a one-out single, the Cubs’ top prospect drove the right fielder in on his second double of the game. A ground out by Justin Bour moved Baez to third, and in the ensuing at-bat, a passed ball scored the shortstop for a 10-0 Smokies edge.
Tennessee returns to Smokies Park Thursday evening for game one of a five-game series against the Montgomery Biscuits. Eduardo Figueroa (0-1, 1.80) will make his second Double-A start and first home start with Tennessee while Montgomery will send Victor Mateo (5-9, 4.78) to the bump. First pitch from Smokies Park is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. EST.
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