KODAK, Tenn. (release) -- The Tennessee Smokies capped off the homestand in exciting fashion Saturday thanks to Logan Watkins, whose game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth gave the Smokies a 3-2 over the Birmingham Barons. The victory, in front of 3,383 on Salute to Heroes Night at the ballpark, puts the Smokies at 5-5 on the second half, 40-40 overall. Birmingham falls to 5-5, 35-44.
Watkins blasted a Santos Rodriquez (0-3) offering to deep right field to lead off the eighth inning. With the home run, Watkins extended his hitting streak to 13 games - the longest hitting streak by a Tennessee batter this season.
Both teams were kept scoreless through two innings. Mike Burgess got the Smokies on the board with his third home run of the series, a solo shot off Birmingham starter Pedro Hernandez to give the Smokies a 1-0 lead.
Tennessee starter Eric Jokisch battled through a few defensive errors and kept the Barons off the scoreboard until the sixth inning. Following a walk to Tyler Saladino, Jose Martinez hit a two-run homer to give Birmingham a 2-1 advantage.
The Smokies quickly responded to tie the game in the sixth. Justin Bour doubled to center and scored on Jim Adduci’s RBI single to square the game at two.
Jokisch battled through seven innings giving up two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out five; but did not factor into the decision.
Kevin Rhoderick (2-3) earned the win, throwing two perfect innings of relief, striking out one.
The Smokies will head to Chattanooga, Tenn. to take on the first-place Lookouts in a three-game series. Tennessee will return to Smokies Park for a three-game series with the Jacksonville Suns beginning on Wednesday, July 4. Following Wednesday’s game will be a patriotic fireworks display you are not going to want to miss. For tickets and more information visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.
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