Jackson, Tenn. - The score was even at 4-4 after five innings and 5-5 after seven, but clutch hitting in the late innings gave the Jackson Generals a 6-5 victory over Tennessee. Monday's triumph helped even the series at 2-2, setting up a rubber match in the series' fifth game on Tuesday night.
Pinch hitter Rudy Flores, batting with a man aboard in the bottom of the ninth, stroked a frozen rope to left-center field, scoring shortstop Raymel Flores (no relation) for the win. Rudy, the Generals' top hitter this season with a .307 batting average, came through to keep the Generals from dropping back to .500.
After Dawel Lugo homered in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game, Generals right-hander Ivan Pineyro (5-0, 2.30) held Tennessee at bay in the top of the ninth. Smokies right-hander David Garner (1-1, 3.21 ERA) walked Raymel Flores to begin the ninth inning, then balked him to second base as Rudy Flores batted for the pitcher. Staring at an 0-2 count, Rudy barreled an outer-half pitch toward the opposite power alley, carrying well over the head of center fielder Trey Martin to snub Tennessee.
Starting pitchers Taylor Clarke and Jen-Ho Tseng brought All-Star-caliber talent to the hill, but the pitching-duel-to-be never materialized, as the two sides traded three-run third innings. Tennessee opened the scoring by sending eight men to the plate in the top half, as Tseng began a streak of four consecutive two-out hits that plated a trio of runs. The Generals answered the bell with a walk, a single, and a two-run double from Kevin Cron to pull within 3-2. Lugo's deep flyout to center field allowed Cron to advance to third base by tagging up, and Stewart Ijames followed suit with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Cron with the equalizer.
Clarke recorded three straight outs in the fourth after allowing a lead-off single. The Generals tweaked Tennessee in the fourth with a series of small-ball maneuvers. Shortstop Raymel Flores walked with one out and promptly stole second base with Clarke batting. Clarke then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first from Tseng was high and popped out of the mitt of infielder David Bote, allowing Flores to score from second base.
The Smokies didn't wait long to answer. Clarke hit Charcer Burks with a pitch in the top of the fifth, and after a steal of second base, Bote brought in Burks with a single to make it 5-5. Tseng and Clarke each completed the sixth inning and allowed four runs. Clarke had fewer strikeouts (4 vs. 5), but also fewer walks (1 vs. 4) and a higher percentage of strikes (65% to 59%).
Raymel Flores, the 22-year-old shortstop making his Double-A debut, stomached a trying top of the eighth inning that cost the Generals a run. With one out and men on first and second base, Flores mishandled a potential double-play groundball, loading the bases rather than exiting the inning. A wild pitch by Jared Miller allowed Jason Vosler to score from third base for a 5-4 Tennessee lead. Martin then sent a grounder toward Lugo that the third baseman threw home, keeping the Smokies from scoring a second time in the inning. Miller got the next batter to ground out to first, bringing Lugo to the plate to lead off the eighth inning.
Before Monday, Lugo hadn't homered since the eighth inning of a May 13th win over Pensacola. The third baseman belted a 3-2 offering from reliever Daury Torrez from the inner half of the plate to the clubhouse roof, an estimated 421 feet away. It was Lugo's only hit of the night. No General had more than one hit in the contest, though second baseman Kevin Medrano did extend his hitting streak to nine games. Cron's pair of RBI tied him for the league lead with Tennessee's Vosler at 42.
The Generals continue their final First Half series with one more 6:05 pm CT first pitch on Tuesday! Game five against Tennessee will mark Jackson's fourth true rubber game of the first half, pitting left-hander Josh Taylor (4-4, 4.13 ERA) against right-hander Preston Morrison (0-5, 5.09 ERA). You can hear the First Half home finale on Willie 94 FM and 1390 AM, or online at RadioWillie.com.
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.