Sevierville, Tenn. - The Generals held off a late comeback attempt by Tennessee to win the final game of 2017 by a 6-4 score at Smokies Stadium on Labor Day. Jackson's victory earned the team a 71-69 record in 2017, as the team finished with wins in each of its last three series.
Ryan Atkinson (4-2, 3.22) put on a show in perhaps his best start with Jackson (34-36, 71-69). The righty worked into the eighth inning, allowing just three runs (two earned) while striking out eight. In his first seven Double-A starts, the righty racked up four wins and a 3.22 ERA. He finished the year with 167 strikeouts total.
Victor Reyes started the scoring in the fourth inning, following a Travis Denker single with a two-run home run to right field. Reyes finished the day 3-for-4 with a double and a triple to go along with his fourth long ball of the season. He ends 2017 with a .296 average in 126 games along with a team-best five triples and 18 stolen bases.
Tennessee (32-37, 68-70) cut into the lead with a Jeffrey Baez double in the sixth to make it 2-1, but the Generals answered back in the seventh. With two on and two out, Atkinson doubled to plate a pair. It was the first career hit for Jackson's pitcher, as the Generals went up 4-1 on Duane Underwood (13-7, 4.43).
The Generals added a pair of important insurance runs in the eighth inning. Travis Denker led off with an opposite field homoe run in his final at-bat of the season. Reyes followed with a triple before coming home on a Marty Herum sacrifice fly to make it 6-1. Denker got into 77 games for the Generals this year, hitting .296 with seven home runs before being removed in the eighth.
Jackson needed those runs, as the bullpen ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth. Atkinson left with two on, and Kirby Bellow loaded the bases with a walk. Yasiel Balaguert made a two-run game with a bases-clearing double to right field, but Bellow retired the next two hitters to maintain Jackson's 6-4 lead.
Josh Taylor (S, 1) allowed consecutive singles to start the ninth, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. After getting Erick Castillo to pop out, Taylor struck out Kevin Cornelius. The lefty retired Jeffrey Baez to finish the game and record his first save of the season.
The two home runs give the Generals 118 as a team on the season, tied for the second-most a Jackson squad has had in one year. The 2008 West Tenn Diamond Jaxx hit 126, which still stands as a franchise record. This year's team is tied with the 2012 squad. It is also the first time since 2012 that the Generals have played a full 140 game schedule.
Thank you to all the great fans that made 2017-Jackson's first as an Arizona affiliate-a success! The Generals open up the 2018 season at home on April 5 against Jacksonville! Call the team at (731) 988.5299, stop by The Ballpark or go online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com to get season tickets for next year now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.