KODAK, Tenn. (team release) -- The Tennessee Smokies, behind a 15-hit output and quality pitching, defeated the Carolina Mudcats 8-3 Sunday night at Smokies Park. The team’s third win in a row puts them at 14-16 for the season’s second half and 57-43 overall.
When the game started, Smokies fans thought that starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx’ night would be a long one. Bibens-Dirkx allowed home runs to two of the first three batters he saw in the first inning, giving the Mudcats the early 2-0 advantage.
Tennessee wasted no time answering the Mudcats first inning, Jae-Hoon Ha and Jim Adduci reached on singles and Josh Vitters drove in Ha with a sacrifice fly. Blake Lalli followed with a single of his own, moving Adduci to third, then Rebel Ridling singled to right field, knocking in Adduci. Steve Clevenger finished off the scoring with a two-RBI double, giving the Smokies a 4-2 lead after the first inning.
The offensive outburst continued for the next three innings, as all nine starters collected at least one hit. In the second inning, Adduci doubled then stole third. Vitters grounded to Carolina second basemen Jake Kahaulelio, who threw home attempting to throw out Adduci. Adduci slid around the tag of catcher James Skelton, and was called safe by home plate umpire Jay Pierce. Lalli then hit the first of his three doubles on the night brining Vitters home for the sixth run of the game.
In the third inning, Matt Camp tripled on a line drive to the left field gap and scored on pitcher Bibens-Dirkx’ infield hit, to extend the Smokies lead to 7-2.
In the fourth, Vitters singled and came around to score on Lalli’s second double of the night, extending the Smokies lead to 8-2.
Jim Adduci finished a home run away from the cycle and Vitters, Lalli, and Clevenger had 2 RBI apiece.
After a rough first inning, Bibens-Dirkx (1-1) settled in to retire 14 of the 16 Mudcats he saw. He tossed five innings allowing three hits while striking our five.
Relievers Kevin Rhoderick and Jeff Beliveau followed Bibens-Dirkx strong outing with their own; giving up no hits or runs in their combined three innings of work. Rafael Dolis finished the night by pitching the ninth allowing only one unearned run to score.
The Smokies will now head to Montgomery, Ala. for a five-game series with the Montgomery Biscuits. The team will return to Smokies Park for a five-game set with the Birmingham Barons starting Sunday, July 31. For tickets fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.