(Tennessee Smokies) A three-run home run by 2B Chris McFarland (1-3, HR, 3 RBI) capped off a four run fourth inning for the Biloxi Shuckers, putting them ahead for the first time in route to a 6-5 win over the Tennessee Smokies in the series opening game Thursday night at MGM Park in Biloxi. The loss ended the Smokies winning streak at five games.
Tennessee falls to 11-10, while Biloxi moves to 15-5, the first team in the Southern League to win 15 games.
Neither side could muster a hit through the first two frames, but the Smokies broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third. SS Carlos Penalver (1-4, 1B) led off the inning with a single and was advanced into scoring position by a SP Rob Zastryzny (0-2, SAC, 2 SO) sacrifice bunt. CF Jacob Hanneman (2-5, HR, 1B, 1 RBI, R) advanced Penalver to third with a single, as 2B Chesney Young (2-5, 2 1B, R) came to the plate.
The reigning Southern League Hitter of the Week, Young bounced a single off the top of the wall to score Penalver and the Smokies led 1-0. Jeimer Candelario earned a walk, then C Victor Caratini (1-3, 1B, BB, SO) struck out swinging, so there were two down for Billy McKinney.
The Texas native connected on a pitch, plating Young and Hanneman with a single. The eighth Smokie to come to the plate in the frame was LF Mark Zagunis (0-3, 3 GO, FO) who grounded out to end the inning, but not before the Smokies had a 3-0 lead.
LHP Rob Zastryzny (6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3K) was cruising on the hill for the Smokies allowing just a single base runner through the first three in his fifth start of the season. The Smokies went in order in the top of the fourth. Biloxi would get the offense going in the bottom of the fourth.
With one out in the frame, C Jacob Nottingham (1-3, 1B, BB, SO) got the first hit of the night off Zastryzny. 1B Garrett Cooper (1-3 1B, BB, FO, GO) flew out to right. With two down, LF Victor Roache (2-4, 2 1B 2 GO) singled to move Nottingham into scoring position. SS Javier Betancourt (1-4, 2B, RBI, FC, SO) drove Nottingham home, the Smokies still led 3-1.
Two down, two on for Chris McFarland. The Shucker second baseman connected on a 0-2 fastball over the left field wall to put the Shuckers in front 4-3. The inning ended with a 3B Brandon Macias flyout to left.
The Smokies tied the game with the first man to the plate in the fifth. Jacob Hanneman hit his fourth home run of the season to knot the game 4-4. The Smokies got another runner with two single from Caratini but stranded him on a RF Billy McKinney (2-4, 2 1B, GO, FO) fly out to end the inning. The fifth was the final inning for Shuckers RHP Adrian Houser (5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 R, 6 H, 3 SO, 2 BB).
PH Parker Berberet (1-1 2B) pinch hit for Houser to lead off the bottom of the fifth for the Shuckers. He later scored on a one out RBI single by CF Brett Phillips (2-4, 2 1B, 2 RBI, FO, GO). Nottingham grounded out to end the inning but the Shuckers led, 5-4.
Former Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle RHP Tristan Archer (2.0 IP, 1H, 1 SO) replaced Houser on the mound for Biloxi. He yielded just one hit over two innings. RHP Stephen Perakslis (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 R, 2 SO) replaced Zastryzny in the seventh for the Smokies.
Perakslis struckout Macias to get the lead off man. PH Kyle Wren (1-1 1B, 1 R) hit for the pitcher, Archer. He singled and advanced to second on a balk. After Perakslis got RF Tyrone Taylor (0-4, SO, 2 FO, GO) to groundout. Just as he did in the fifth, Brett Phillips singled to drive in Wren and the Shuckers led 6-4.
The Smokies got a run back in the eighth. Caratini led off the inning with a walk. McKinney advanced Caratini to second with a single and the Smokies had two on with no outs in the inning. LF Mark Zagunis (0-4, 3 GO, FO) grounded into a double play, advancing Caratini to third. 1B Taylor Davis (2-4, 1B, 2B, FO, SO) pounded a ball off the base of the wall to drive Caratini home. Penalver grounded out to end the frame but the Smokies cut the lead to 6-5 Shuckers.
Biloxi could not add to its lead in the bottom of the inning, but sent out its closer RHP Jaye Chapman (1.0 IP, SV, H, 3 SO) to finish off the contest. He yielded a two out single to Chesney Young, but struck out the side. With the effort, Chapman earned his league leading ninth save capping off the 6-5 victory.
The Smokies face the Shuckers in game two of the series Friday in Biloxi. The Smokies have not announced their starting pitcher, but the Shuckers will start RHP Jorge Ortega (0-1, 1.53 ERA, 3 GS, 17.2 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO)