Smokies win series behind Black's pitching, first-inning explosion
The Smokies scored eight runs on five hits in the first to give starter Corey Black a comfortable cushion en route to a 9-1 victory over the Barons at Regions Field on Wednesday afternoon. Tennessee leaves Birmingham with a 3-2 series victory
Black (1-1) earned his first win of the season after holding the Barons (10-10) without a hit or a run over six scoreless innings. He walked three and struck out eight. The Smokies (10-10) forced Birmingham starter Terry Doyle (2-2) out of the game in the first after he retired just two batters and allowed eight runs and five hits.
John Andreoli started the furious eight run rally with a single through shortstop. It was his fourth straight game with a leadoff single and would eventually lead to his third first inning run over the last four games. He was 2-for-2 in the first with a run and was 3-for-6 overall in the game.
Zeke DeVoss, who batted in the second spot for the first time this season, followed Andreoli with a walk. Kris Bryant reached on a throwing error and the bases loaded up for Rafael Lopez. Doyle walked Lopez to score the first Tennessee run and then allowed a two-run double to Dustin Geiger.
Geiger’s double was his third of the season and it gave the Smokies a 3-0 lead. Doyle went on to strikeout Rubi Silva and then walked Jae-Hoon Ha. A single to left from Jeudy Valdez scored Lopez to make it 4-0 and loaded the bases for the ninth batter Wes Darvill.
Darvill cleared the bases with a three-run double that scored Geiger, Ha and Valdez. The double was Darvill’s second and gave him seven total runs batted in this season. The Smokies led 8-0 after Darvill’s hit and scored once more in the inning when DeVoss grounded into a force out.
Black took the eight-run advantage and ran with it through six no-hit innings. Black retired the side in order in the first, third and fifth innings. He walked one in each of the second, fourth and sixth, but faced a combined 11 batters between those three innings.
The victory came a day after a 14-3 loss to Birmingham when Ryan Searle gave up back-to-back home runs, including a grand slam, in a eight-run fifth inning.
The Smokies return home for a five-game series against the first place Huntsville Stars, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The series begins with the second Thirsty Thursday of the season. Drink specials will be available all night long, including soda and domestic draft beers for just $1. In addition, Jamie Lynn Spears will be appearing at the ballpark to throw out a first pitch. Spears will also have a special meet-and-greet for the first 15 fans through the gates that find WVLT’s Whitney Kent and Slugger, and ask for tickets. First pitch for that evening’s contest is slated for 7:15 p.m.