Zebulon, N.C. (smokiesbaseball.com) -- Jake Kahaulelio’s tenth inning solo blast allowed the Mudcats to walk off with a 5-4 win over the Smokies on Monday night at Five County Stadium. The Smokies have lost two straight and now stand at 7-4 on the season.
After being held to three runs the day before, the Smokies picked up an early run in the first inning, as Rebel Ridling came into score on an RBI single by Josh Vitters. It was the fifth straight road game in which the Smokies scored at least one run in the first inning. The Mudcats responded with a run in the bottom of the second inning off LHP Chris Rusin. After striking out Mike Costanzo, Rusin surrendered a double to left field off the bat of Cody Puckett. After a Dennis Phipps ground out, David Cook knocked in Puckett on an RBI single to tie the game, 1-1.
Carolina took the lead in the fifth, as they manufactured a run on three hits, including a sacrifice bunt. The Smokies came right back in the top of the sixth inning, as Nate Samson lead off the frame with a single and Brett Jackson walked, putting runners at first and second with no outs. The next batter, Ryan Flaherty, emptied the bases with a three-run homer to center field, giving the Smokies a 4-2 lead. The Mudcats answered quickly in the bottom half of the inning, as Costanzo clubbed a solo home run to lead off the frame to cut the Smokies lead to 4-3. Cody Puckett followed, reached on an infield single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch by RHP Kyle Smit. Puckett then came into score on a RBI single from Cook, his second of the game, and tied the score at 4-4.
RHP David Cales (0-1) came on in the bottom of the tenth and induced a groundout right before surrendering Kahaulelio’s winning homer. Smokies pitchers have now allowed nine home runs over the last two games. Brett Jackson’s ten game hitting streak to open the year was snapped, as he finished 0-for-4.
The Smokies are back at it on Tuesday night as they play game two against the Mudcats. RHP Rafael Dolis (1-0, 1.80) takes the mound for the Smokies, while the Mudcats counter with RHP Justin Lehr (0-0, 0.00). 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.