Smokies' division lead cut in half with 5-3 loss

KODAK, Tenn. (Smokies Baseball) – A two-run eighth for the Tennessee Smokies in Saturday night’s affair with the Jackson Generals narrowed the team’s 5-1 deficit and brought a Smokies Park crowd of 5,566 to their feet heading into late innings. Tennessee's rally wasn’t enough, as Jackson defeated the Smokies 5-3 at Smokies Park and cut the Smokies lead in the Southern League North Division to one game.

Jackson got on the board first with a big second inning. Johermyn Chavez led things off with a solo home run to center. Rich Poythress reached on a throwing error by 3B Josh Vitters and Carlos Triunfel doubled to left. Brandon Bantz brought in Poythress on a ground out and Brandon Haveman singled to score Triunfel, giving the Generals an early 3-0 lead.

The lead grew to 4-0 in the third, as Poythress followed a Chavez single with a two-out RBI double. The Generals extended their lead to 5-0 in the fourth when Bantz came in on a Kyle Seager double.

It appeared the Smokies would answer with a big inning of their own in the bottom half of the fourth, as Ryan Flaherty and Rebel Ridling reached on singles and Matt Spencer drove in Flaherty to make it 5-1. However, with runners at second and third and two outs, Vitters grounded out to end the threat.

Both teams were held scoreless over the next three innings, and then the Smokies bats heated up in the eighth. Brett Jackson walked to lead off the inning, and two batters later, Flaherty cut the deficit in half with a two-run shot to make it 5-3. Blake Lalli walked to bring the tying run to the plate, but Generals reliever Steve Delabar retired Ridling and Spencer to preserve the Generals’ lead.

The Smokies bullpen pitched well in relief of starter Brooks Raley, as Kevin Rhoderick and Chris Carpenter combined for three no-hit innings. Raley (2-5) took the loss, while Erasmo Ramirez (6-2) picked up the win for Jackson. Delabar recorded his third save of the season after working 1.2 scoreless innings.

The Smokies and Generals will continue their five-game series Sunday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. The Smokies will send newcomer RHP Nick Struck (0-0, 1.50) to the mound and the Generals will counter with RHP Jarrett Grube (4-1, 3.34). Sunday is Jimmy Buffett tribute night with a post-game concert featuring Key West. For tickets fans can visit or call 865-286-2300.

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