KODAK, Tenn. (release) – After falling in last seven games, the Tennessee Smokies used a late-inning run to defeat the Birmingham Barons Saturday night 5-4 at Smokies Park. The win, in front of 4,265 on Salute to Heroes Night, snapped a seven-game losing streak and improved their record to 16-18 on the season.
Matt Szczur singled to lead off the Smokies’ first and then stole second base. That steal was number 11 of the season. Szczur then moved to third base on a Ronald Torreyes double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Arismendy Alcantara to give the Smokies an early 1-0 lead.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza started the night for the Smokies on a rehab assignment. Garza went 3.1 scoreless innings, giving up three hits, two walks and struck out two. He threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.
The Barons (24-11) would tie the game at one in the fifth inning on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Loosen. Keenyn Walker walked as the second batter of the inning and then stole second base (13). Loosen threw consecutive wild pitches advancing him to third and home to score the run.
However, the Smokies would counter in the fifth inning with three more runs of Birmingham starter Stephen McCray (4-2), putting them ahead 4-1. Rafael Lopez doubled to left field and then Tim Torres walked, putting runners on first and second. Szczur singled to center field, scoring Lopez and Torres. Szczur stole second base (12) and came around to score on a fielding error by the Baron’s third baseman Cody Puckett.
Loosen allowed two runs to score in the eighth and the Smokies answered right back. Ty Wright led off with a ground-rule double and then Anthony Giansanti pinch ran for him. Rubi Silva moved him over on a grounder to first and then Christian Villanueva hit a RBI-double to left field.
In the ninth inning, the Barons would get one run after Keenyn Walker reached on a force out at second base. Walker then stole second base and later scored on a Trayce Thompson single to left field. With the bases loaded and one out, Marcus Hatley (S, 1) was able to get back-to-back outs and secure the victory for the Smokies.
Loosen (1-1), went four innings, giving up two hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out six. Hatley (S, 1) came in and pitched 1.2 innings, giving up two hits, one run, two walks and striking out one.
The Smokies will now begin a 10-game road trip, starting with a five-game series with the Jackson Generals at the Ballpark of Jackson. The Smokies will return to Smokies Park on Thursday, May 23 for a five-game set with the Huntsville Stars. For tickets and more information, fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.