The Smokies were defeated on Friday night 6-3 by the Birmingham Barons in game one of the series. Trent Giambrone had two hits in the game to lead the team offensively.
Oscar De La Cruz got the start for the Smokies and limited the damage in the game. De La Cruz pitched six innings, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out six. He gave up three runs in the first three innings, but managed to pitch three scoreless after.
After getting down 3-0 to start the game, the Smokies made their offensive push in the bottom of the fifth. Giambrone singled to start the rally and moved to third on a single by Jeffrey Baez. With two outs, Jason Vosler came through with a double down the right field line that scored Giambrone. Yasiel Balaguert was the next batter and he continued the momentum as he doubled to right and scored Baez and Vosler to tie the game up at three.
Jordan Minch replaced De La Cruz in the seventh inning and got himself into trouble as he loaded the bases with nobody out. However, Minch settled down, forcing two pop outs and striking out one to end the inning unscathed. James Norwood replaced Minch in the eighth inning and worked out of a jam himself to keep the game tied. The carousal of relievers continued in the ninth inning as Tommy Nance pitched a scoreless inning.
Nance could not keep it going in the tenth though, as he loaded the bases and gave up three runs. Scott Effross replaced Nance with one out and was able to get out of it, but the Barons took a 6-3 lead. The Smokies brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the tenth but a strikeout and flyout ended the game.
The Birmingham Barons defeated the Tennessee Smokies for the second consecutive day on Saturday, winning 3-0 at Smokies Stadium. Despite quality pitching from Tennessee, the Smokies offense could not back it up.
A scoreless affair through four innings was broken up by a two-run home run in the fifth inning that gave the Barons a 2-0 lead. They added to the lead in the sixth inning when a sacrifice fly made it 3-0 Birmingham.
The Smokies got on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Trent Giambrone and Will Remillard both singled with two outs. After a Birmingham mound visit, Zack Short spoiled the shutout with an RBI single to center that scored Giambrone and pulled Tennessee within two, 3-1. Vimael Machin followed with a walk to load the bases, but the Smokies were unable to score again.
Michael Rucker started the game on the mound for the Smokies and lasted 6.0 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and one walk. He also struck out seven. Rucker has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven out of his last eight starts.
Preston Morrison came in to relieve Rucker to start the seventh inning. Morrison threw the final three innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. He also struck out two.
The Smokies won in walk-off fashion on Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Barons 3-2. Zack Short was the hero with a single to left field in the bottom of the ninth, winning the game for the Smokies.
Duncan Robinson took the mound for the Smokies riding a two-game win streak. Robinson continued his hot pitching on Sunday as he held the Barons hitless for 5.2 innings. The right-hander finished the game going six innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits. Robinson struck out a season high 11 on the afternoon.
After getting down 1-0 in the top of the sixth, the Smokies immediately answered in the bottom of the inning. Vimael Machin started off the inning with a single and moved to third with one out when Jason Vosler doubled to right field. Yasiel Balaguert then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Machin.
Jake Stinnett replaced Robinson in the seventh inning and gave up a home run to give the Barons the lead back. Zach Hedges replaced Stinnett in the eighth and pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three.
Down 2-1 in the eighth, Tennessee put up a two-out rally. With Trey Martin reaching on a fielder’s choice and Vosler walking, Balaguert singled in the tying run, his second RBI of the day.
In the ninth, Trent Giambrone singled to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt and groundout moved him to third, Short singled down the left field line, scoring Giambrone to win the game.
Tennessee and Birmingham will be back in action on Monday for game four of the series at 7 p.m. ET. Thomas Hatch is the projected pitcher for Tennessee as he looks for his sixth win of the season. Birmingham will counter with Jordan Guerrero.