Smokies fall to Braves, 5-2

PEARL, MS ( -- A wild pitch and a throwing error by the Smokies led to three runs for the Braves, and Mississippi held off Tennessee, 5-2, on Saturday night at Trustmark Park. The Smokies have now lost nine of their last 12, and fall to 53-40 overall in 2011.

For the second consecutive day, the Smokies started the first inning with the bases loaded and less than two outs. However, for the second straight game, the Smokies were able to muster just one run off LHP Luis Avilan (2-4), as Jae-Hoon Ha scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Vitters. The next batter, Nelson Perez flew out to retire the side and end the threat. The Braves answered back in the bottom of the second inning against RHP Dallas Beeler (1-5), as Dan Nelson cracked a base hit to left field and advanced to second on a groundout. The next batter, Cory Harrilchak drove in Nelson with an RBI single to right field to tie the game at 1-1.

The Braves would take advantage of mistakes made by the Smokies in the third and fourth innings. With two outs and a runner at third, Beeler threw a wild pitch that scored Braedan Schlehuber to give Mississippi a 2-1 edge. In the fourth, Nelson single again and then advanced to third on a double to right field by Mycal Jones. The next batter, Harrilchak, grounded out to first base, but Rebel Ridling made an errant throw to the plate allowing both runs to come in safely and the Braves led 4-1 after four innings.

In the seventh, Harrilchak scored on an RBI single by Shawn Henry to push the Braves’ lead to 5-1. The Smokies got a run back in the eighth, as they loaded the bases against RHP Rowdy Hardy. However, they would score the lone run of the frame on a double-play ball and end up stranding two runners in the inning. In the ninth, Ty Wright flew out to end the game with runners at second and third. Overall on the night, the Smokies were 1-for 10 with runners in scoring position.

Tennessee and Mississippi continue their six game series on Sunday at 6:05 PM. RHP Trey McNutt (1-3, 4.80) takes the hill for the Smokies, while the Braves counter with RHP Paul Clemens (6-5, 3.90). The Smokies return to Smokies Park on Wednesday, July 20, to welcome in the Carolina Mudcats at 7:15 PM. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (865) 286-2300.

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