Mobile, Ala. (Smokies Baseball) -- The Tennessee Smokies could not overcome two early home runs and were downed by the BayBears 5-4 on Friday night at Hank Aaron Stadium. The loss drops the Smokies to 17-12 on the year and ensures their first series loss of the season.
RHP Hung-Wen Chen (1-1) made his second start of the season and fell into trouble in the first inning by giving up a lead-off double to A.J. Pollock and then committed a throwing error that allowed Ollie Linton to reach base. With the first two men on base, Chen next surrendered a three-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt that put the BayBears out in front 3-0. In the bottom of the second inning, Pollock belted a solo home run off Chen to push the Mobile lead to 4-0.
Tennessee bats were silent early on, as RHP Charlie Brewer and RHP Bryan Henry (3-1) combined to give up one run on four hits in six innings of work. The lone allowed was a solo home run by Brett Jackson in the sixth inning to put the Smokies on the board and cut the Mobile lead to 4-1 after six innings. The BayBears manufactured another run in the bottom of the sixth off RHP Rafael Jacob Elmore led off the frame with a single and quickly stole second base to put himself in scoring position. Kyle Greene came in to pinch-hit for Henry and lined an RBI single to center field to bring in Elmore, and Mobile increased their lead to 5-1.
In the top of the seventh, the Smokies battled back for three runs off RHP Clay Zapada. With one out, Steve Clevenger and Josh Vitters smacked back to back singles to put runners at first and second. After a Jim Adduci pop out to third base, Marwin Gonzalez reached on a fielding error by Jacob Elmore to load the bags. The Smokies called on Rebel Ridling to pinch-hit with the bases full, and Ridling responded with a line drive single to center field to plate two runs. In the very next at bat, a wild pitch by Zapada allowed Gonzalez to score from third to cut the Mobile lead to 5-4. However, Brett Jackson grounded out to end the rally.
The Smokies looked for one more late inning rally in the top of the ninth but fell just short. With back to back one out singles by Vitters and Adduci, the Smokies had a runner in scoring position with a chance to tie the game. A Gonzalez groundout to first moved the runners over, but the comeback fell just short after Blake Lalli grounded out to pitcher Bryan Shaw to end the game.
The Smokies wrap up their five game series with the BayBears on Saturday evening at 8:05 pm. RHP Robert Whitenack (1-0, 3.27 ERA) will take the hill for the Smokies while the BayBears will turn to LHP Wade Miley (0-1, 5.25 ERA). After an off day on Sunday Tennessee will return to Smokies Park to battle for first place with the Huntsville Stars starting Monday, April 9 through Friday, April 13. Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.
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