KODAK, Tenn. (team release) -- An eighth inning home run by Nelson Perez sparked a three-run rally for the Tennessee Smokies on way to a 4-2 win over the Mobile BayBears in Game 3 of the Southern League Championship Series. With the win, the Tennessee keeps their playoff hopes alive, as Mobile now leads the best-of-5 series 2-games-to-1.
To start the game, Mobile wasted no time in taking the lead off Smokies starter Ryan Searle, as they took advantage of a Nate Samson throwing error and a wild pitch scoring two unearned runs to take a 2-0 lead.
An inning later, the Smokies responded when Nate Samson doubled down the left field line to bring in Rebel Ridling and narrow the deficit to 2-1.
Both starters managed to keep the opposing bats at bay from that point on. Searle gave way to Hung-Wen Chen after five innings, surrendering two runs (none earned) on three hits while striking out three.
The Smokies threatened with runners at first and second and no outs in the sixth, but failed to capitalize as the BayBears killed the threat with a double play and inning-ending groundout.
Six outs from elimination, the Smokies conjured up some late-inning magic in the eighth. Perez led things off with a solo homer to tie the game at 2-2, and after Jim Adduci and Blake Lalli reached on walks, Ridling ripped an RBI single to score Lalli and put the Smokies on top. A Mobile error on a Samson grounder allowed pinch runner David Macias to score, extending the lead to 4-2.
The Smokies’ bullpen continued to flourish in the playoffs. Chen, Jeff Beliveau and Rafael Dolis combined to throw the final four innings, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out three. Beliveau (1-0) got the win for Tennessee and Dolis (S, 1) picked up the save tossing a scoreless ninth.
The clubs will play Game 4 of the SLCS on Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. at Smokies Park. Tennessee right-hander Trey McNutt (1-0, 3.60) will pitch against Mobile right-hander Trevor Bauer (0-1, 21.00). For tickets and more information fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.