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Smokies take two of three over weekend from M-Braves

Saturday: Smokies 4-4 Braves 3-0

(Tennessee Smokies) Tennessee swept its doubleheader with Mississippi in games two and three of the series on Saturday. The Smokies dominance on the mound proved monumental in both games. The Smokies hosted Star Wars Night presented by Regal Entertainment Group on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 6,460 fans.

It was all pitching to start the first game, as both teams combined for just four hits after five innings of play. Duncan Robinson dealt nine strikeouts and gave up just three hits until the Braves finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Tyler Neslony drove in the first run of the ballgame with a single to right field to bring in Alay Lago, giving Mississippi a 1-0 lead. A sliding catch from Eddy Martinez in right field stopped the bleeding for the Smokies in the sixth inning.

It didn’t take long for Tennessee to answer, as a fielding error brought in Zack Short from second base to tie the game at 1-1. Following the run, the Braves pulled Bryse Wilson from the game, as he had an impressive outing with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched.

Yet another fielding error put a man on first and second base for Tennessee with two outs left in the sixth inning, but Ian Rice struck out to end the inning. Things remained quiet until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Smokies had a chance to win in walk-off fashion but came up short.

Mississippi struck first in extra innings on an RBI bunt from Luis Valenzuela, but Tennessee knotted it up with an RBI double from Jason Vosler in the bottom of the eighth inning. A wild throw to third base brought in a run for the Braves to start the ninth inning and give them a 3-2 lead. The Smokies once again had a chance to even the game up in the bottom of the ninth, but this time they finished the game. A wild throw tied the game up at three runs apiece, and Charcer Burks drew a walk-off walk for a 4-3 Tennessee win.

The Smokies jumped right into the action in game two of the doubleheader, as a solo homerun from Jeffery Baez put Tennessee up 1-0 in the second inning. Just one inning later, Yasiel Balaguert tallied his ninth RBI of the season with a single to right field to give the Smokies a 3-0 lead.

Braves starter Touki Toussaint left the game after nearly three innings of work after giving up three runs and recording four strikeouts. Tennessee finally rung up another run in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double to bring in Baez. The Smokies kept the 4-0 lead until the end of the game, as they swept the doubleheader and took a 2-1 series lead.

Thomas Hatch tossed a full seven inning game after giving up just three hits and registering seven strikeouts in the win. Robinson and Hatch combined for 13 innings pitched and 16 strikeouts on the day.

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Sunday:  Braves 7 Smokies 4

(Tennessee Smokies) The Smokies were defeated by the Mississippi Braves on Sunday afternoon 7-4. Tennessee will look for the series win on Monday in the series finale against the Braves.

Oscar De La Cruz took the mound for the Smokies and was good through the first four innings, allowing just one hit. De La Cruz also helped his own cause in the third inning as he got the Smokies first hit of the game. But, De La Cruz hit a speed bump in the fifth as he loaded the bases and allowed two runs to score. De La Cruz finished the game going five innings, allowing the two runs on three hits and striking out five.

The Smokies got on the board first after three scoreless innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Jason Vosler broke out of a slump as he hit his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to right, that put the Smokies up 1-0.

Daury Torrez relieved De La Cruz in the sixth innings and struggled as well, as he gave up four runs on four hits in his one inning of work. James Norwood replaced Torrez in the seventh and pitched an inning, giving up one run.

With the Smokies down 6-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Vosler came through again as he tried to spark a comeback. With two outs, Zack Short singled to bring up Vosler. Vosler immediately cut the Braves lead to 6-3 as he hit his second home run of the game over the right field fence, his seventh of the season.

Jake Stinnett pitched the last two innings of the game for the Smokies, allowing no runs on one hit. In the ninth, the Smokies made one last rally. Trent Giambrone doubled with one out. After a groundout moved him to third, Erick Castillo knocked him in to make it 7-4.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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