KODAK, Tenn. - The Tennessee Smokies were unable to overcome a five-run deficit and fell to the Mobile BayBears 6-4 on Sunday night at Smokies Park. With the win, Mobile won the Southern League Championship 3-games-to-1. The Smokies ended 2011 with an 83-57 regular season record, and a 4-3 playoff record.
The Smokies jumped ahead in the opening frame, as Jae-Hoon Ha ripped a solo homer over the left field wall to make it 1-0.
Mobile answered quickly as Matt Davidson walked to lead off the next half inning for Mobile, and three batters later, Josh Ford went homered to left for a two-run shot to give the BayBears a 2-1 advantage.
BayBears starter, and Arizona Diamondbacks first round draft pick (3rd overall), Trevor Bauer (1-1) settled in tossing five innings, allowing just the one run on three hits while striking out seven.
After scoreless frames in the third and fourth, Smokies' starter Trey McNutt got into a jam in the fifth. Mobile put runners at first and second before the right-hander gave way to Kevin Rhoderick, who eventually killed the threat by striking out Ryan Wheeler to end the inning. McNutt received the no-decision after allowing two runs on two hits in 4.1 innings of work.
The Smokies' bullpen, which has been unhittable in the playoffs, was unable to keep the Mobile bats at bay in the sixth. Matt Davidson homered off Marcus Hatley to lead off the inning, then Marc Krauss walked and Taylor Harbin singled to put two on. Ford singled to right, and a Jim Adduci error allowed both runs to score. Jacob Elmore capped off the scoring with a sac fly to bring in Ford, extending the lead to 6-1.
In the seventh, the Smokies began to show signs of life. Junior Lake walked and Jonathan Mota singed with one out, putting runners at the corners for pinch-hitter Nelson Perez. The left-hander singled to right to score Lake, and after Jim Adduci reached on a fielder's choice and stole second, Jae-Hoon Ha came through with a two-run double to cut the margin to 6-4.
Tennessee, however, was not able to muster any more offense off Even Marshall, who came in and got the final four outs and secured the championship for Mobile.
The Smokies would like to thank their fans, sponsors and media partners for their support during this record-breaking season. Tennessee won their third straight North Division championship, and saw numerous coaches, players and staff members earn awards for their accomplishments.
Tennessee will open the 2012 season in Chattanooga with a five-game series against the Lookouts, beginning on Thursday, April 5 at AT&T Field. The team's 2011 home opener at Smokies Park will be on Tuesday, April 10 against the Jackson Generals