KODAK, Tenn. (release) --- Nine consecutive Suns batters reached base with two outs as part of a seven-run seventh inning, while first baseman Viosergy Rosa drove in four runs and catcher J.T. Realmuto homered in Jacksonville’s 15-7 victory over the Tennessee Smokies in front of a crowd of 5,544 that set a historic mark on Saturday night at Smokies Stadium.
With the loss, the Smokies fall to 32-30 in the second half and saw their first place lead in the second half North Division standings decrease to just one game over the Chattanooga Lookouts thanks to the Lookouts’ win over the Jackson Generals. The win improves Jacksonville’s record to 37-25 since the midpoint of the year.
Prior to the contest, the Smokies welcomed their 268,034th fan of the year through the gates of Smokies Stadium, setting a new single-season attendance record. Adding in the 5,544 patrons on hand Saturday, the team has welcomed 272,991 fans in 66 openings, marking the first time in the franchise’s history they have surpassed the 270,000 mark.
Entering the top of the seventh trailing by a run, the Suns soared ahead by putting together a two-out rally that saw nine consecutive batters reach base. CF Isaac Galloway started the seventh’s scoring with a two-run single to center before he was brought home as part of SS Austin Nola’s two-run base knock. 1B Viosergy Rosa then followed C J.T. Realmuto’s bases-loaded free pass with a two-run base hit to cap Jacksonville’s surge and put the road team up 13-6.
A night after allowing seven runs in the first inning, it was Tennessee’s turn to get ahead early, plating two tallies in their first time at the bat. SS Addison Russell started the two-out rally with a double down the left field line, before 1B Lars Anderson smashed his second homer of the year, a two-run shot just inside the right field foul pole to put the Smokies up 2-0.
The Suns would then take advantage of a Tennessee fielding miscue to answer back. After LF Brady Shoemaker reached via a free pass and moved to second on RF Joe Benson’s base knock, Dayleg reached base on a fielder’s choice with Shoemaker erased at third, however Benson would score from second on an error to get Jacksonville on the board.
That one-run margin would be short-lived, though, as the Smokies increased their lead to five with a four-run bottom of the second. 2B Stephen Bruno and starting pitcher Corey Black each singled, before coming across on RF Pin-Chieh Chen’s two-run double to right, while Chen came plateward on CF Albert Almora’s two-run blast into the Calhoun’s At The Yard deck in left to push Tennessee ahead 6-1.
Jacksonville, however, tightened the contest closer again the very next half inning. 2B Austin Barnes started the third inning rally by getting on courtesy of a forceout, and Realmuto walked, with both scoring when Rosa ripped a two RBI two-bagger down the right field line to cut the Smokies’ lead to three.
That deficit then shortened to just one in the fourth. Benson and Dayleg reached on consecutive walks to begin the frame and then advanced one base on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on Barnes’ two-run double to left, cutting the Smokies’ advantage to 6-5.
Both teams would then trade runs between the fifth and sixth innings, with Tennessee keeping the one-run margin. Almora led off with a double to left, before being plated via Russell’s RBI singlet o left, while Jacksonville followed with a leadoff double of their own by CF Isaac Galloway, who took third on a flyout and then scored on Nola’s sacrifice fly to center. One inning later, the Suns stormed in front with their big seven-run seventh.
Jacksonville would add to the tally with two more scores in the final inning. After Nola reached base with a single, Realmuto crushed a two-run blast to left, extending the Suns’ lead to 15-7.
Rosa (2-6, 1 2B, 4 RBI), Nola (2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB) and Galloway (2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI) each recorded multi-hit efforts for the Suns in the victory, while Almora (3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI) led all batters with three hits and Russell (2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI) also collected two base knocks. Almora came a triple shy of hitting for the cycle and has now tallied a hit in ten of his last 12 outings dating back to August 10.
Suns reliever Collin Cargill (1.0 IP) earned the win with a scoreless frame in the sixth, while Smokies southpaw Hunter Cervenka (0.2 IP, 2 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO)suffered the defeat. Neither club’s starting pitcher, Tennessee right-hander Corey Black (3.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4 SO), nor Jacksonville righty Jay Rogers (5.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO) factored in the final decisions.
The Smokies and Suns are set to face off again in a Sunday matinee, with first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Smokies Stadium. Both Jacksonville and Tennessee’s starters have not yet been named.
Fans in attendance will have the final opportunity to bid on the Smokies’ road grey jerseys, which will be available to be bid on online until Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET. In addition, it’s the final U.S. Cellular Family FUNday of the regular season, with families able to purchase a special package that includes four tickets, four meal vouchers and two Homer the Hound Playland wristbands for just $48 dollars.
Tickets for that game and the remainder of the Smokies’ 2014 home schedule are still available and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 286-2300.