PENSACOLA, Fla. – Christian Villanueva tallied three hits and four runs batted in as the Tennessee Smokies picked up their first win of the season downing the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 8-2 at Pensacaola Bay Front Stadium. The Smokies tallied twelve hits on the night and eight of the nine starters registered at least one base hit.
Tennessee jumped on Pensacola starter Josh Smith right away in the top of the first. With two outs, Villanueva singled up the middle to bring home Matt Szczur for a 1-0 Smokies lead.
Pensacola responded with two runs in the bottom of the second to move in front. David Vidal tied the game with an RBI groundout and Brodie Greene followed that with a two-out, RBI single to put the Blue Wahoos up 2-1.
The Smokies exploded for five runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead for good. Jonathan Mota started the five-run rally with a leadoff double and he scored on a Jay Fernandez RBI double that tied the game at 2-2. After Fernandez scored on a fielder’s choice, Jae-Hoon Ha, Justin Bour, and Villanueva all delivered two-out, RBI hits to extend the Tennessee advantage to 6-2.
Villanueva tacked on two more runs for the Smokies in the top of the eighth inning with a two-out, two-run double to score Ha and Bour and put Tennessee in front 8-2. All four of Villanueva’s RBIs came with two outs and the Smokies totaled six two-out runs in the ballgame.
In addition to Villanueva’s strong offensive night, Ha finished 3-for-5 with two runs while Szczur and Bour also scored twice in the contest.
In his first start since September of 2011, Alberto Cabrera picked up the victory for the Smokies. Cabrera (1-0) went the first six innings allowing just two runs while striking out nine batters, one short of his career high. Smith (0-1) was saddled with the loss surrendering six earned runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings.
The Smokies and Blue Wahoos continue their five-game series tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m. ET when Tennessee sends left-hander Eric Jokisch (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound against Pensacola righty Tim Crabbe (0-0, 0.00 ERA) at Pensacola Bay Front Stadium.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the minor league Class AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the 10-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com.