The Barons took a 1-0 series lead over the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League North Division Series following a 3-1 win Thursday night in the inaugural playoff game in Regions Field history.
Barons' starter Chris Bassitt was the story on the night, breaking out with a dominant performance in his playoff debut, allowing a run on three hits while striking out nine over 7.0 innings. The lone blemish against Bassitt came in the fifth on a solo homer by Rubi Silva.
Trayce Thompson made sure Bassitt's dazzling outing stood up by breaking a scoreless tie in the third inning with a line drive home run onto the home run porch in left field against Smokies' starter Nick Struck (0-1, 5.40).
Thompson's night wasn't through as he helped the Barons reclaim the lead after Silva's homer with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Dan Black would follow with a run scoring base hit to give the Barons a decisive 3-1 lead while chasing Struck from the ballgame. Struck would finish with three runs allowed on six hits over 5.0 IP.
Ryan Kussmaul and Cody Winiarski combined to allow just one hit over the final two innings with Winiarski picking up the save as the Barons took an important step towards claiming their 14th championship.
Thompson and Black each finished with two hits on the night while the top five hitters in the lineup (Micah Johnson, Cody Puckett, Thompson, Black and Mike Earley) finished with seven of the Barons' eight hits, going a combined 7-for-19. Thompson's homer was the lone extra-base hit for the home team.
The Barons and Smokies will go at it again tomorrow night as RHP Chris Beck (2-2, 2.89) takes the hill against RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (5-1, 3.34). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM CDT.