By Brett Pollock / Huntsville Stars | July 3, 2009 6:32 PM
Marcos Mateo worked six solid innings and Tennessee survived a wild ninth inning to get past Huntsville 5-3 Friday night in the last of a six-game set at in front of 7,655, the largest crowd ever at Smokies Park. The Smokies evened their second half record at 6-6 and moved to within a game of the North Division leading Stars, who slipped to 7-5 in the second half and 45-36 overall. The Stars claimed 10 of the 14 games in Sevierville and 10 out of 16 in the season series.
Tyler Colvin reached on a fielder's choice grounder in the first inning, stole second and came into score the game's first run when Marquez Smith singled into center field. The Stars got the game tied in the bottom of the inning when Kevin Melillo drew a leadoff walk, moved to second base on a Mateo balk, advanced to third base on a Vinny Rottino single and scored on a JR Hopf base hit.
Tennessee regained the lead in the fourth inning when Smith doubled with one out and scored when on a single by Blake Lalli, who was awarded third base on an errant throw back to the infield by Stars' center fielder Freddy Parejo. The next pitch from Nick Green was a wild one, going back to the screen behind the plate and allowing Lalli to score to make it a 3-1 game.
Mateo retired the last 11 batters he faced and departed having allowed a run on three hits, while walking one and fanning five. He held the Stars to two runs over 11 innings in his two starts in the series and won for the first time since beating Mississippi on May 9. Marco Carillo tossed two scoreless frames and has blanked the Stars over 6 1/3 innings in his three outings against them.
Green lasted 6 2/3 innings in his first start with the Stars, allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits, while walking one and striking out four. He had started the season at triple-A Nashville and made nine turns before suffering an injury that necessitated him going to the Arizona Rookie League before joining the Stars on a rehab assignment. Josh Wahpepah allowed a two-run pinch-hit single by Russ Canzler in the eighth inning that accounted for the Smokies' final runs of the game.
Brian Schlitter walked two batters and then walked Hopf to load the bases with two out in the ninth before he put pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy on board with a base on balls to force in a run to make it 5-2 and force his exit from the game. Jayson Ruhlman took over and walked Johnny Raburn to force in Rottino before Adam Stern grounded out on a very close play at first base to end the game. Ruhlman recorded his first save of the season.
The Stars return home Saturday to begin a four-game series with West Tenn with right-hander Mike Jones starting for the Stars against Diamond Jaxx' right-hander Luis Munoz. Coverage of the game begins at 6:45 pm central time and can be heard through the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.