Smokies' seven-run third inning drops Shuckers in series opener

Garrett Cooper extends hitting streak to five with two more hits on Thursday

Nick Ramirez finished Thursday's game, 2-for-4 with a double (M.K. Krebs)

By Biloxi Shuckers | September 4, 2015 12:00 AM

BILOXI, MS - The Biloxi Shuckers suffered their worst defeat in MGM Park's short, 39-game history, falling to the Tennessee Smokies on Thursday night, 11-3, in front of a crowd of 3,114. Biloxi pitching issued 10 walks, including five in a Tennessee, seven-run third inning. With four games remaining, the playoff bound Shuckers are mathematically still in the second half hunt, 2 ½ games back, in fourth place in the South Division standings.

The 11 runs and eight-run margin of defeat was season-highs at MGM Park as well as the four errors and seven run inning in the third. 

Biloxi (33-32) grabbed a lead in the second inning with a two-spot. Back-to-back walks to Garrett Cooper (2x3, R, BB) and Tyrone Taylor (0x3, RBI, R, BB) put two on before Nick Ramirez (2x4, 2B) went down on strikes for the first out. A free pass to Parker Berberet (1x3, BB) loaded the bases for Nick Shaw (1x4, 2 RBI), who stroked a two-run single to center to bring in Cooper and Taylor for the 2-0 lead.

Cooper would single in his next at-bat in the third to set a new team record for most consecutive hits with six, and is now 13-for-19(.684), hitting in all five games at the Double-A level with Biloxi.

The advantage would not last long as Hobbs Johnson (7-8) could not find the strike zone for a second consecutive outing. The third inning began with Albert Almora, Jr. grounding out, but a walk to Dan Vogelbach and a single by Wilson Contreras put two on for the Smokies. Johnson struck out Jeimer Candelario for the second out, but walked the next two batters to force in a run and cut the Shuckers' lead to one while ending the night for the 24-year-old.

The lefty labored through 2.2 innings, issuing six walks, surrendering four runs on just two hits while tossing 77 pitches - 35 for strikes.

Drew Gagnon took over for Johnson with the bases loaded and two out, walking the first two batters he faced to erase the Shuckers' lead and put them in a one-run deficit. A wild pitch to Bijan Rademacher allowed Anthony Giansanti to score to put Biloxi down by two. Rademacher then drove a two-run double to right to put Biloxi in a four-run hole. Almora skied one in front of home plate, but Berberet could not handle the popup in fair territory, allowing Rademacher to score from second to complete the seven-run inning.

Taylor put a run on the board for Biloxi in the third with a RBI fielder's choice, scoring Josh Fellhauer (0x4, R, BB), but Tennessee (35-31) responded in the fourth with a RBI double by Bryant Flete to put the Shuckers back down five.

Jed Bradley shut out the Smokies over two innings out of the bullpen, giving up just two hits and striking out three. Martin Viramontes allowed three runs in the ninth on four hits and a walk.

Orlando Arcia (0x3) was ejected in the fourth inning after being called out on strikes, and failed to reach base for the first time in 16 games. Manager Carlos Subero was also ejected in the inning. Tennessee's Stephen Bruno was also ejected in the second inning.

The Shuckers will look to even the series on Friday night at MGM Park. The Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher RHP Jorge Lopez (12-5, 2.29) takes the mound for Biloxi, while Tennessee will counter with RHP Pierce Johnson (6-2, 2.15). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with coverage beginning at 6:55 p.m. on 1240-AM WGCM, 1580-AM WPMO and the Biloxi Shuckers Radio Network. Fans can also listen to the game using the TuneIn Radio app or by going to www.biloxishuckers.com.

The final regular season homestand opens at MGM Park runs through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. There will be back-to-back post-game fireworks shows following Saturday and Sunday's games. The 2015 regular season ends on Labor Day, Monday, September 7 with a 1:10 pm matinee.

Playoff Tickets On-Sale: Biloxi Shuckers Southern League South Division Series playoff tickets are on sale now to the general public. Fans can purchase playoff tickets online through biloxishuckers.com, ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000 or visiting the MGM Park box office. The Southern League South Division first half champions will host game one and two of the best-of-5 series against the South Division second half winner or division wildcard at 7:10 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10 and Friday, Sept. 11 at MGM Park.

Following the game on Sept. 11, there will be post-game fireworks. The Shuckers have also partnered with First Command Financial Services to recognize a member from the Biloxi Fire and Police Departments as well as a member of the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard. These seven individuals and their family members will be thanked on field before the game and participate in the game's honorary first pitch ceremony. To purchase playoff tickets directly, CLICK HERE.

In addition to purchasing tickets at the MGM Park Box Office or CLICKING HERE, fans may also use the options listed below from Ticketmaster. In order to purchase tickets over the phone, please call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. The MGM Park Box Office does not process any phone sales. All phone sales must be made through Ticketmaster with the number provided. In order to purchase tickets online, please visit www.ticketmaster.com or www.BiloxiShuckers.com. Tickets may also be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets. Please visit www.ticketmaster.com for additional locations in your area. ** There are no refunds or exchanges for individual game tickets**

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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