Montgomery designated hitter Richie Shaffer homered and drove in four runs, two of which came as part of a five-run third inning, to lead the Biscuits to an 8-4 victory over the Tennessee Smokies on Thursday night at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.
Despite the defeat, the Smokies topped the Biscuits in the series thanks to their series-clinching win Wednesday evening, and also maintained a three-game lead in the second half North Division standings with a 32-28 record. Montgomery, meanwhile, improved their second half mark to 26-34.
It was Tennessee who got things going with a big inning, plating three tallies in the second frame. 3B Christian Villanueva and C Charlie Cutler collected back-to-back singles, before Villanueva came home on 2B Stephen Bruno's run-scoring base knock put the Smokies on the board first. After Cutler scored on an RBI groundout, CF Jae-Hoon Ha drove in Bruno with a run-scoring single to center to move Tennessee ahead 3-0.
The Biscuits would counter right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second. 1B Cameron Seitzer led off the inning with a double to right prior to coming plateward on Shaffer's two-run blast to left to cut Montgomery's deficit to one.
That one-run Smokies lead would then be erased in the subsequent frame courtesy of the Biscuit's big inning. LF Willie Argo and CF Kes Carter singled, while 2B Ryan Brett walked to load the bases for RF Taylor Motter, who lifted a game-tying sacrifice fly to send in Argo. Seitzer then reached base to fill the bases again for Shaffer, who brought home two more scores with a base hit to center, moving Montgomery into a two-run lead before both Seitzer and Shaffer were brought home via C Luke Maile's two-bagger to left to make it a 7-3 margin.
Two frames later the Biscuits would strike once more for insurance. Shaffer reached base on a Smokies fielding miscue, and then took third on Maile's base hit, before coming across on 3B Hector Guevara's sacrifice fly to right, capping Montgomery's scoring at 8-3.
The Smokies would narrow that deficit to four in the fifth, yet were unable to draw any closer after. LF Lars Anderson led off the frame with a double and moved 90 feet courtesy of Cutler's single to center, before scoring on Bruno's sacrifice fly to center for the second baseman's second RBI of the evening.
Montgomery starter Victor Mateo (6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) earned his league-leading 12th victory of the season, while relievers Parker Markel (1.0 IP, 2 BB), Braulio Lara (1.0 IP, 1 H) and Bryce Stowell (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) combined for the final three shutout frames. Smokies right-hander Ivan Pineyro (2.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB) suffered the defeat, with Tony Zych (2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER), Zach Cates (2.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 SO) and Jeff Lorick (1.0 IP, 1 SO) joining forces to yield a lone unearned run over the last 5.2 innings.
Shaffer (2-4, 3 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and Maile (2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI) each recorded two hits in the contest and combined to drive in six of the Biscuits' eight runs, while Anderson (2-4, 1 R, 1 2B), Cutler (2-3, 1 R) and Bruno (2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI) all tallied multi-hit efforts in the loss. Bruno has now recorded hits in 11 of his last 12 contests after seeing his ten-game hit streak snapped on Wednesday evening.
The Smokies now return home for their final homestand of the 2014 regular season, a five-game series against the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. Tennessee is expected to give the ball to RHP Felix Pena (2-2, 4.50), while Jacksonville is slated to counter with RHP Jose Urena (11-8, 3.47). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
The homestand is set to start with a bang on Remote Area Medical Friday Night with Friday Night Fireworks, presented by Peps, Coor's Light, the Knoxville News Sentinel, WVLT and WIVK. It's also College Colors Night at Smokies Stadium, with all fans encouraged to dress up in their favorite school's colors.
Tickets for that game and the remainder of the Smokies' 2014 home schedule are still available and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 286-2300.