Zebulon, N.C. (smokiesbaseball.com) -- The Smokies offense struck early and the bullpen shut down the Mudcats lineup, as Tennessee defeated Carolina 6-2 on Tuesday night at Five County Stadium. The win evens up the five game series at a game apiece, and the Smokies improve to 8-4 on the season.
For the ninth time in the first 12 games this season, the Smokies scored in the first inning, as Brett Jackson walked to lead off the game and then stole second base. Jackson came into score on an RBI double by Ryan Flaherty to put the Smokies up 1-0. After a D.J. LeMahieu groundout and a strike out by Blake Lalli, Josh Vitters doubled to drive in Flaherty and make it 2-0 Smokies. Another RBI double by Nate Sampson in the second inning increased Tennessee’s lead to 3-0.
RHP Rafael Dolis made his third start for the Smokies, but had to leave the game with an undisclosed injury after tossing 2.1 innings without giving up a hit. He was relieved by RHP Ty’relle Harris (1-0), who allowed one run over 3.2 innings of work.
The Smokies picked up another run in the fourth inning off RHP Justin Lehr (0-1), who walked the bases loaded and then gave up a Flaherty sacrifice fly to bring Jim Adduci in from third base. Nate Samson lead off the top of the sixth inning with his second double of the game and later came into score on a double-play groundout by Flaherty to give the Smokies a 5-0 lead after five and a half innings. Carolina’s first and only run of the game was a solo home run off the bat of Mike Costanzo in the bottom half of the sixth.
Tennessee picked up another run in the ninth to go up 6-1. In the last of the ninth, the Mudcats scored their second run of the game and threatened to tie it as they loaded the bases with two outs and the tying run up to bat. However, RHP David Cales came onto face Jake Kahaulelio and retired the right-hander by inducing a fly-out to end the game.
The Smokies continue their five game set Wednesday night as they play game three against the Mudcats. RHP Hung-Wen Chen (0-1, 6.00) takes the mound for the Smokies, while the Mudcats counter with RHP James Avery (0-2, 6.75). The Smokies will return to Smokies Park on Thursday, April 28th, as the Smokies will host the Carolina Mudcats in a five-game series through May 2. Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.