Zebulon, N.C. (smokiesbaseball.com) -- Three errors by the Smokies defense proved to be costly, and the Tennessee bats had no answer for RHP Dallas Buck as the Mudcats were victorious 5-3 on Thursday night at Five County Stadium. The loss drops the Smokies to 9-5 on the season.
RHP Trey McNutt (0-1) returned to the rotation after missing one start due to a blister on his throwing hand. In the bottom of the first inning, McNutt gave up a double to the first batter he faced in Fred Lewis. That followed by a single to center field by Miguel Rojas to drive in Lewis and put the Mudcats ahead 1-0. On the play, Rojas advanced to second on a throwing error by Blake Lalli. He would end up coming around to score on an RBI double by Mike Costanzo, and Carolina lead 2-0 after one inning. The Smokies were able to tie it up, 2-2, in the top of the fourth inning as both Brett Jackson and D.J. LeMahieu came around to score with two outs. The Mudcats went back in front in the bottom half of the fourth inning as Denis Phipps reached base on a single to center field. He’d later come into score on an RBI single by the pitcher, right-hander Dallas Buck, to give Carolina a 3-2 lead at the end of four innings.
Buck (1-0) held the Smokies bats in check for seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and struck out three. In the fifth inning, Costanzo reached base on another error by Lalli and would end up scoring on an RBI double off the bat of Cody Puckett. Carolina would benefit from another Tennessee error in the sixth inning, as Chris McMurry reach on a throwing error by Marwin Gonzalez and later scored on an RBI double by Lewis to give Carolina a 5-2 lead after six innings.
The Smokies were held to just one hit over the final six innings, and it was a solo home run by Brett Jackson in the eighth inning off Justin Freeman to cut Carolina’s lead to 5-3. However, RHP Nick Christiani retired the Smokies in order in the ninth inning to record his first save of the season.
The Smokies close out their five game series on Friday night against the Mudcats at 7:15 PM. RHP Alberto Cabrera (1-0, 4.50) takes the mound for the Smokies, while the Mudcats counter with RHP Jordan Hotchkiss (1-1, 5.79). 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.
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