(Tennessee Smokies) The Smokies got back on the winning track on Monday afternoon as they took the final game of the series against the Mississippi Braves 5-4. The Smokies used a good starting pitching performance and some early runs to get the win.
Michael Rucker got the start for the Smokies and pitched well in his five innings of work. Rucker allowed one run on three hits and struck out six on pace to his first win of the season.
Rucker had help from his offense who got to Mississippi pitcher Ricardo Sanchez early. In the second, the Smokies put two men on base to start the inning on singles from Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Penalver. That brought up Trey Martin with two outs and he did not disappoint as he knocked in two runs to put the Smokies up 2-0.
After Rucker gave up a solo home run in the third to cut the Smokies lead to 2-1, Rucker pitched two more scoreless innings before being replaced. Meanwhile, the Smokies built their lead. In the fifth, Jason Vosler hit his first home run of the year to make it 3-1. In the fifth, Martin came through again as he singled and a run scored. The Smokies added one more run in the inning on an error.
Mississippi closed the gap in the bottom of the sixth on reliever James Pugliese to make it 5-3, but Jake Stinnett came into the game and shut the door for Tennessee.
Mississippi tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh to close the gap to one but Stinnett once again held on to preserve the lead. Craig Brooks finished the game out for the Smokies, throwing two scoreless innings to earn his first save of the season. The Braves had one last chance in the ninth with runners on the corners and two outs, but a strikeout by Brooks closed the game out.
The Smokies will take Tuesday off before their home opener on Wednesday against the Jackson Generals. That game will be an afternoon game with first pitch scheduled for 11:30 a.m. The starting pitchers for that game have yet to be announced.