KODAK, Tenn. (team release) -- The Tennessee Smokies fell in the series opener against the Carolina Mudcats Wednesday night 7-4 at Smokies Park. The loss, in front of 3,976 fans, drops the Smokies to 11-15 in the season’s second half and 54-42 overall. Carolina improves to 13-12 in the second half, and 36-59 overall.
Smokies starter Brooks Raley fell behind early surrendering a leadoff home run to Denis Phipps putting the Mudcats up 1-0.
Carolina took then advantage of two Smokies errors, scoring three runs in the fourth inning taking a 4-0 lead.
The Smokies answered with a run of their own in the fourth inning when Ty Wright led the inning off with a double, and moved to third on a Rebel Ridling fly out. Josh Vitters drove in Wright with a sacrifice fly to left field putting the score at 4-1.
The Mudcats would get another run in the fifth inning when Neftali Soto hit his first homerun on the night off Raley, extending Carolina’s lead 5-1.
Raley would exit the game after five innings allowing five runs (two earned) on nine hits, walking none while striking out one.
Smokies reliever Oswaldo Martinez took over on the mound but didn’t fare much better, allowing Soto’s second homerun of the night, a two-run shot giving the Mudcats the commanding 7-1 lead.
The Smokies would make things interesting in the seventh inning. Steve Clevenger led things off with a walk, and then Matt Spencer hit the right field foul pole for his 13th homerun of the season. Nate Samson then followed with a double and would score on a Matt Camp two-out single, bringing the Smokies within striking distance, 7-4.
Wright led the Smokies offense going 3-for-3 with a double and a walk on the night.
Raley (6-8) took the loss for Tennessee and Mudcats starter Pedro Villarreal (4-2) got the win. Chris Mobley picked up his first save of the season tossing a perfect ninth inning.
The two teams will square off in the second game of the five-game set Thursday night at 7:15 at Smokies Park. Ryan Searle (2-1, 3.86) will start for Tennessee and face-off against Matt Klinker (5-6, 5.00). For tickets fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.