KODAK, Tenn. (release) -- Tennessee pitchers Pierce Johnson, Hunter Cervenka and Armando Rivero combined to allow only one Huntsville hit and retired the final 16 batters in a row, while first baseman Dustin Geiger’s seventh-inning homer was the difference in the Smokies’ 2-1 win over the Stars on Sunday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.
The victory improves the Tennessee’s record to 11-13 on the year, while Huntsville fell to 15-9 on the season. The Stars have already clinched the series after taking each of the first three contests.
The lone hit yielded by the Smokies pitching staff came in the third inning, when C Shawn Zarraga singled to right field with one out. Huntsville was held silent the rest of the way, with the remaining 16 batters all retired in order on four flyouts, five strikeouts and seven groundouts.
Cervenka (3.0 IP, 1 SO) earned his second win of the season after three perfect frames in support of Johnson (4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 BB, 1 SO), while Rivero (2.0 IP, 3 SO) set down the last six in order, notching his fourth save of the season. Huntsville starter Taylor Jungmann (6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO) suffered the defeat after allowing two earned runs on four hits in 6.2 innings.
Jungmann was brilliant between the two scores, at one point retiring 11 of 12 consecutive batters, with the lone blemish in that span a walk from 3B Kris Bryant. That free pass extended the infielder’s on-base streak to 23 games this season, the longest such active stretch in the Southern League.
For the fourth straight contest in the series, the Stars scored in the very first frame, this time without collecting a base knock. 2B Josh Prince, 1B Nick Ramirez and Zarraga each drew free passes, with Prince then being brought home on CF Mitch Haniger’s sacrifice fly to right.
Tennessee evened the contest in the next inning with a single tally of their own. C Rafael Lopez led off with a double and then took second on a fly out to right, before coming plateward on a wild pitch to make it 1-1.
After Zarraga’s single in the third, Huntsville would not manage another baserunner, but the score was still even until the seventh. It was then when Geiger left the yard to put Tennessee up for good, with the solo shot his fifth roundtripper of the year, tying him with seven players, including Smokies 3B Kris Bryant, for the league lead.
The two teams will face off Monday evening in the series finale, with RHP Corey Black (1-1, 2.65) expected to get the nod for Tennessee coming off a six-inning no-hit performance in Birmingham. Huntsville is expected to send southpaw Brent Suter (3-0, 1.08), who took a no-hitter into the ninth in his last outing against the Mobile BayBears. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Stadium.
The series wraps up with McGhee Tyson Airport Low Fare Monday, with fans getting the bang for their buck as hot dogs, popcorn and sodas will all be available for just $1 each. Tickets for that game and the remaining 2014 Smokies home games are still available and can be purchased online at www.smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.