The Tennessee Smokies broke up a 1-1 tie with eight runs in the top of the 12th to beat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 9-1 in front of the third straight sellout to start the season at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
A pitchers duel through 11 frames, Tennessee exploded for the eight runs courtesy of five base hits, four walks (one intentional), a hit batter and two Pensacola errors. The first eight men in the inning reached before an out was recorded. Matt Szczur broke the 1-1 tie with a bases-loaded two-run single through the drawn-in infield to make it 3-1. Jae-Hoon Ha added a two-run single to make it 5-1 before a bases loaded hit by pitch against Christian Villanueva made it 6-1. Rafael Lopez, the 10th batter of the frame, drove home two more with a bases loaded double prior to Szczur tallying his second run-scoring base knock of the inning to provide the final margin.
The inning skewed what was a fantastic pitching matchup throughout the contest. Pensacola starter Tim Crabbe was brilliant over five innings, yielding just a solo homer to Rubi Silva in the fifth and a second-inning single to Villanueva. Crabbe struck out five in his first outing of 2013.
Yohan Pino, Drew Hayes, and Curtis Partch combined for five scoreless frames before the 12th. Lee Hyde (0-1) took the loss for Pensacola giving up 7 runs (6 earned) in an inning plus seven batters of work.
Frank Batista (1-0) picked up the win with two innings of scoreless relief for the Smokies. He had two of Tennessee's 15 strikeouts as a staff.
Pensacola's lone run of the contest came in the last of the fourth. With two outs and Ryan LaMarre on second, Steve Selsky sent a line drive into center field to score LaMarre just ahead of the throw from Silva in center. Selsky had the lone multi-hit game with a 2-for-4 performance. The Wahoos struggled on offense yet again, mustering just five singles for the second consecutive night.
The Wahoos look to even the series tomorrow at 4 p.m. behind southpaw Ryan Dennick. Tennessee will counter with righty Kyle Hendricks. It's the first Family Sunday of the season sponsored by McDonald's. Kids will have the chance to run the bases after the game and there will be a family toss in the outfield postgame.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.