Chattanooga, Tenn. - Staring at an early deficit with a lean relief corps, the Jackson Generals buckled down and rallied for three runs to steal a 3-2 victory at Chattanooga on Thursday. The Generals did all of their scoring in a sixth-inning rally, knocking around Randy LeBlanc (2-2, 6.58 ERA) to salvage the series finale at AT&T Field.
Activated earlier in the day from the disabled list, right-hander Ivan Pineyro (4-0, 2.49 ERA) threw three solid frames out of the bullpen to help the Generals secure the victory. Miller Diaz (S, 2) got some huge help from the Jackson defense in a taut ninth inning to earn his second save of the year.
After the Jackson bullpen threw 24.0 innings over the first four games of the series, Pineyro was tapped for long relief in place of starter Josh Taylor. Throwing for the first time since May 22, the 25-year-old Pineyro stumbled out of the gate in the fifth inning. He fed an inner-half 2-2 pitch to 2017 Southern League Mid Season All-Star Nick Gordon, and the Chattanooga shortstop punched it out for a home run to make Chattanooga's lead 2-0. Thereafter, Pineyro withstood a handful of other hard-hit balls to record five strikeouts and earn his first career victory as a relief pitcher. Pineyro's perseverance came with 49 pitches, including 28 strikes.
Jared Miller (H, 2), pitching for the second time in three games, allowed a one-out single in an otherwise uneventful eighth inning. Diaz, who also threw on Tuesday, gave up back-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the ninth inning, putting the potential tying and winning runs on base. A risky decision by Chattanooga then gave the Generals an opportunity for defensive magic. Outfielder Edgar Corcino, recently named a 2017 Southern League Mid-Season All-Star, was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the Lookouts' runners up one base each.
On contact, Jackson catcher Oscar Hernandez sprung from his crouch behind home plate and fired the bunted ball quickly to third base to force out the lead runner, negating the sacrifice. Kevin Cron, the Generals' All-Star first baseman who started the game at third base for only the third time in his career, whipped a bold throw back across the diamond to try for the double play. Kevin Medrano, the Jackson second baseman who had rotated to cover first base on the play, took a page from Cron's book and scooped the low throw, completing an audacious twin-killing to push Chattanooga to the brink. Diaz walked the next batter, but a groundout to shortstop Dawel Lugo, Jackson's usual third baseman, netted the Generals an intense victory.
A two-run single by Cron put the Generals ahead for good in the sixth inning, keeping Jackson from falling to .500 for the first time all season. After five scoreless frames from Chattanooga starter Ryan Eades, the Lookouts called on LeBlanc to begin the sixth inning. The Generals, who scored 8 runs against LeBlanc on April 28, quickly pounded out three straight hits. Medrano led off with a single, and he moved to third on a slash by Travis Denker. With two aboard, Stewart Ijames doubled to right field, scoring Medrano to bring the Generals within 2-1.
Two batters later, Cron stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one man out. The Southern League leader in home runs chopped LeBlanc's 1-2 offering into left field, scoring Ijames from third base and Evan Marzilli from second for a 3-2 Jackson lead. The pair of RBI upped Cron's team-best season-long total to 37.
Taylor started for the Generals and struck out five batters across four innings, but a ballooning pitch count pushed him out of action on the early side. Medrano finished with a pair of hits. The Generals stranded 11 Chattanooga runners in the game.
After the win, the Generals are 3.0 games out of first place in the North Division with 10 games remaining in the first half. The Generals' final two series of the half will both feature North Division foes, as Jackson hosts Tennessee (33-26) this weekend and visits Birmingham (21-38) next week.
The Generals now return to The Ballpark at Jackson for their final First Half series, June 9-13. The five-game set against the Tennessee Smokies will feature a number of cool promotions, beginning with a Leaders Credit Union Food Truck Friday! Accompanying the now-weekly spread of mobile cuisine at The Ballpark will be the Hub City Hippos (3-1), Jackson's Friday-night alter ego! The Hippos will try to avenge their only previous loss, and you can show your support for them by purchasing Hippos gear from the Generals' in-stadium team store or by phone at (731) 988.5299.
Saturday June 10 is Wedding and Couples Night at The Ballpark! The first 500 fans age 21 and older will take home a glass beer stein, and during the game, one lucky couple will win a vacation for two to Hawaii! Saturday's game will also mark the final Fireworks Night of the First Half.
Make sure to get your tickets now to see the 20th season of professional baseball in Jackson, and the first for the team as an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks! Call the team at (731) 988.5299, stop by The Ballpark or go online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com to secure your seats now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.