PEARL, Miss. (RELEASE) -- Rebel Ridling hit a pair of home runs as the Tennessee Smokies defeated the Mississippi Braves, 6-3, on Sunday afternoon at Trustmark Park. The Smokies, who have won five of their last seven games overall, have taken three of the first four contests in the five-game set to secure the series win.
For the second day in a row, the Smokies (20-24) got on the scoreboard before the Braves stepped up to bat. Following a one-out single by Jae-Hoon Ha in the top of the first, Ridling cracked his second home run of the season onto the berm in left center field to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.
The Smokies added to their lead in the second inning when Jim Adduci, who was a late addition to the starting lineup, launched his second home run of the year into the Tennessee bullpen in right field to make it 3-0.
Mississippi (18-25) would take advantage of a Tennessee error and plate three runs to tie the game in the bottom of the second. Joe Leonard led off with a hustle double to left center and advanced to third on a Christian Bethencourt single before scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cory Harrilchack to cut the Braves deficit to 3-1.
Following a walk by Braves pitcher Sean Gilmartin, Keenan Wiley grounded to first but the ball went under the glove of Justin Bour, allowing Bethencourt to score and make it 3-2. Two batters later, Phil Gosselin dribbled an RBI single up the middle to even the score, 3-3.
Two of the runs in the frame were unearned as a result of the error.
In the top of the fifth, the Smokies regained the lead thanks to a bizarre play. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Bour hit a pop up down the third base line that barely left the dirt circle around home plate. Mississippi third baseman Joe Leonard dove and the ball hit off his glove and ricocheted into foul territory, allowing both runners to score and put Tennessee on top, 5-3.
The Smokies tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when Ridling struck gain, lacing a solo homer just over the leaping glove of Harrilchak in left field to cap the scoring, 6-3.
The Tennessee bullpen continued its dominance, holding Mississippi to just one hit over the final four frames. After Casey Weathers escaped a jam in the sixth, Kevin Rhoderick fired two scoreless frames and Frank Batista retired the side in order on just seven pitches in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
Smokies starter Trey McNutt (2-3) earned his second straight win, working five strong innings. McNutt allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Gilmartin (2-5), the Atlanta Braves’ first-round draft pick last June, started for Mississippi and surrendered a season-high five runs on seven hits over five innings while suffering the loss.
The Smokies and Braves conclude their five-game series on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET when Tennessee sends right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee (3-1, 4.50 ERA) to the mound against Mississippi righty David Hale (3-2, 4.03) at Trustmark Park.
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