Suns take two from the Smokies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ( -- The Tennessee Smokies (2-3 second half, 36-37 overall) were unable to hold a pair of leads, falling twice on the road against the Jacksonville Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Monday. In the completion of yesterday’s suspended game, the Suns plated eight unanswered runs to break a 3-3 tie en route to an 11-3 win. In the second contest, Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Suns scored 10 consecutive runs to pick up a 10-3 victory.

The Smokies gained the early lead in the top of the first when Junior Lake delivered a RBI double that gave the Smokies a 1-0 lead. The Suns tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Donnie Webb led off the bottom of the first with a triple, then was brought home by Jake Smolinksi on a groundout to even the score. Tennessee regained the advantage in the top of the third once again due to Lake, who hit an RBI single to center to score Logan Watkins to give Tennessee a 2-1 edge. The game went into a rain delay a few batters later with two men on base and one out in the inning.

When the game resumed, the Smokies sent Eric Jokisch to the mound and the Suns immediately took a 3-2 lead with two runs in the bottom of the third.

Tennessee tied it, 3-3, in the sixth on a Mike Burgess RBI double, but Jacksonville would take the lead for good in the bottom of the frame on two-run single by Donnie Webb. A three-run homer by Jeff Dominguez in the seventh to give the Suns an 8-3 advantage, and Shawn Bowman’s three-run double in the eighth capped the scoring, 11-3.

Tennessee starter Trey McNutt pitched two innings, allowing a run on a pair of hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Jacksonville starter Graham Taylor pitched into the third while giving up two runs on five hits. Neither starter returned following the suspension. Alan Oaks (1-0) picked up the win in relief for the Suns while Jokisch (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season for the Smokies, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on eight hits over 5.2 innings.

The day’s regularly-scheduled contest went scoreless into the fourth inning, when Tennessee used three consecutive two-out RBI hits to take a 3-0 lead. Following a two-out single by Junior Lake, Justin Bour ripped an RBI double to center before Nelson Perez followed with an run-scoring triple to make it 2-0. Nate Samson added an RBI single to give Tennessee a 3-0 edge.

The Suns retaliated in the bottom of the fourth, using a Kyle Dudley RBI single to cut their deficit to 3-1 and chase Smokies starter Dallas Beeler from the game. Marcus Hatley entered out of the Tennessee bullpen and stranded two runners on base to escape the jam and preserve the two-run lead.

Jacksonville tied it, 3-3, in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a pair of two-out RBI hits by Jake Smolinski and Kyle Jensen.
In the sixth inning, the Suns pushed seven runs across thanks to a pair of two-run singles by Chris Gutierrez and Kyle Jensen and a three-run blast off the bat of Aaron Dudley.

Kyle Kaminska (5-3) picked up the win in relief. Beeler (2-6) allowed one run on three hits over 3.1 innings. Kevin Rhoderick (1-3) suffered the loss in relief, surrendering five runs on two hits with two walks in 0.2 frames.

The Smokies return home to Smokies Park on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. to begin a five-game set against the Birmingham Barons. In the series opener, Tennessee will send right-hander Nick Struck (8-6, 3.90 ERA) to the mound while the Barons counter with righty Cameron Bayne (5-7, 6.83 ERA).

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