KODAK, Tenn. (team release) – The Tennessee Smokies were unable to overcome a four-run deficit and fell to the Huntsville Stars Wednesday night at Smokies Park, 7-2. The loss was the Smokies fifth straight and dropped their record to 20-26 in the second half, 55-61 overall. The Stars improved to 23-23, 58-58.
With Dallas Beeler on the mound for Tennessee, the Stars drew first blood in the top of the first when Hunter Morris blasted a three-run home run to center field to give Huntsville an early 3-0 lead.
The Smokies answered back in the bottom half. With one out, Logan Watkins walked, stole second and moved to third on a fly ball by Jae-Hoon Ha. Following a walk by Justin Bour, Junior Lake ripped a single to left to score Watkins and making it a 3-1 game.
The Smokies made it a one-run game in the second. With two outs Beeler collected his first hit of the season and would come around to score on a triple by Matt Szczur.
Huntsville got to Beeler again in the third, after loading the bases with singles; Beeler walked Angel Gonzalez allowing a run to come in. Morris grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Hainley Statia and an error by Beeler trying to complete the double play allowed Scooter Gennett to score and give the Stars a 6-2 advantage.
Gonzalez tacked on a run for the Stars in the top of the fifth, hitting a solo home run off Smokies reliever Casey Harman to give Huntsville the 7-2 lead.
Beeler (4-7) took the loss for the Smokies, going three innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits striking out two. The bullpen consisting of Harman, Casey Weathers, Tony Zych and Frank Batista combined to only allow one run on four hits over six innings of relief.
Johnnie Lowe (2-2) earned the win for Huntsville, surrendering two runs on five hits and struck three over five innings of work.
Lake paced Tennessee offensively going 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI.
The Smokies and Stars will play Game Two of their five-game set on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Park. RHP Lendy Castillo (0-0, 4.50) will be making his second start of his MLB rehab assignment and will be opposed by RHP Ariel Pena (0-0, 4.50) for Huntsville. The first 500 fans 12-and-under will receive a free lunch bag, courtesy of Pepsi. For tickets and more information visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.