KODAK, Tenn. (TEAM RELEASE) – The Tennessee Smokies were unable to follow up on a strong offensive showing in Saturday’s game, mustering only seven hits Sunday evening in a 6-2 defeat to the Jacksonville Suns. Suns pitcher Brad Hand was the too much for the Smokies to overcome as the team fell to 36-27 on the second half, 79-54 overall.
Hand, who has started eight games this season for the Florida Marlins, came through with a big night for Jacksonville (30-33, 67-66) both on the mound and at the plate. His third-inning solo home run to the right field berm sparked a two-run inning giving the Suns a 2-0 lead.
Both offenses remained silent until the sixth, when the Suns busted the game open with a big inning. Ben Lasater started things off with a ground rule double, and Ryan Curry reached on a Josh Vitters error. Hand singled to bring in both, and Jeremy Synan tripled to score Hand and extend the lead to 6-0.
Hand (11-4) exited after 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out three. Offensively, he went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored.
The Smokies cut into the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Blake Lalli walked and Rebel Ridling doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs, and Vitters brought in Lalli with a groundout to short. Two batters later, Nate Samson singled home Ridling to narrow the deficit to 6-2.
Ryan Searle (5-3) took the loss for the Smokies, allowing six runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 5.2 innings. Kevin Rhoderick and Oswaldo Martinez were solid in relief, combining for 3.1 scoreless innings and allowing only two hits.
Tennessee will try to even the series at two games a piece on Monday night at 7:15 at Smokies Park. Chicago Cubs’ Andrew Cashner (0-1, 10.80) will make his third MLB rehab start and will face Jacksonville’s Jose Alvarez (2-4, 4.97). For tickets and more information, fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.