Kris Bryant helps Smokies inch closer to .500
Smokies third baseman Kris Bryant slapped a run-scoring double down the left field line to extend his on-base streak to 24 as part of a four-run sixth inning, while starter Corey Black allowed a lone earned run in six solid innings to lead Tennessee to a 4-1 victory over the Huntsville Stars Monday evening at Smokies Stadium.
With the series-closing win, the Smokies improved to a game below the .500 mark at 12-13, while the Stars fell to 15-10 in 2014. Tennessee’s victories in the final two games of the series salvages a 3-2 series defeat to Huntsville.
The Stars started the scoring in the opening frame for the fifth straight contest, homering for the fourth time in that span. Nick Ramirez launched an opposite field solo blast to left with two outs, putting Huntsville up 1-0.
Tennessee would then strike with a four-spot in the sixth frame to surge ahead 4-1. Pinch hitter Charlie Cutler began the rally by being hit by a pitch and John Andreoli reached on a single to bring up Zeke DeVoss. The outfielder placed a bunt single down the third base line, which also drew a throwing error that plated both Cutler and Andreoli. DeVoss would then come across Bryant’s RBI double to left, while Rafael Lopez capped the scoring spurt with a run-scoring two-bagger of his own.
Black (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO), named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for the period of April 21-27 earlier in the day, earned the victory after allowing the lone earned run on three hits, adding five strikeouts. Reliever Jeff Lorick (2 IP) mowed down all six batters he faced for two perfect frames of relief in earn a hold, while Tony Zych (1 IP, 1 H) notched his first save of the year with a scoreless ninth.
On the other side, Stars starting pitcher Brent Suter (5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO) suffered his first defeat of 2014 after yielding three earned runs on five hits. Right-hander Eric Marzec (2 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) would follow his two scoreless frames behind Suter.
Andreoli (2-3, 1 R, 1 BB) and Lopez (2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI) each recorded a multi-hit effort in the win, while no Huntsville hitters accomplished that feat. Bryant and Andreoli each extended their on-base streaks to 24 and 18, respectively, and are currently the first and second longest active stretches in the Southern League.
Tennessee has an off day tomorrow before beginning a five-game series with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on Wednesday evening. The Smokies are slated to send right-hander Ivan Pineyro to the hill in the series opener, while the Lookouts have not announced their starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.