KODAK, Tenn. – The Tennessee Smokies were caught in a pitcher’s duel, but fell to the Carolina Mudcats 4-1 Sunday afternoon in front of 3,202 at Smokies Park. The loss puts the series at two games apiece and the Smokies at 15-9 on the season. Carolina improves to 7-17.
Smokies’ starter Trey McNutt shined for the Smokies in his first home start of the year. The right-hander worked five scoreless innings before exiting the game in the sixth, allowing two earned runs on four hits and striking out four on the day.
The league-leading Smokies offense failed to provide much run support for McNutt after averaging eight runs through the first three games of the series.
In the first inning, D.J. LeMahieu doubled with one out to move into scoring position, but Ryan Flaherty and Rebel Ridling were unable to bring him in. Jim Adduci doubled in the second, only to be stranded. The Smokies saw only two batters reach base in the following four innings.
With both teams deadlocked in a scoreless tie in the seventh, Carolina got on the board first. Singles by Mike Costanzo and Cody Puckett led off the inning, and after a wild pitch by McNutt scored Costanzo. McNutt would exit the game, and reliever Ryan Buchter surrendered a double to Felix Perez bringing in Puckett. A bases-loaded walk scored Perez, giving the Mudcats a 3-0 lead. Butcher struggled to find the strike zone, walking three in one inning of work.
Carolina added another run in the eighth, and the Smokies responded in the bottom half with a Marwin Gonzalez solo shot to narrow the deficit to 4-1.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Steve Clevenger doubled down the right field line. The Smokies couldn’t capitalize, however, as Josh Vitters flew out and Nate Samson struck out to end the game.
McNutt (1-2) took the loss for the Smokies and Mudcats’ starter James Avery (2-3) received the win going seven innings allowing zero runs on four hits while striking out three. Donnie Joseph picked up his first save of the season tossing a scoreless ninth.
The rubber match of this five-game series will be tomorrow morning, with first pitch at 11:30 a.m. The Mudcats will send RHP Dallas Buck (1-1, 6.89) and the Smokies will respond with newly promoted RHP Rob Whitenack (0-0, 0.00). Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.