Smokies catcher Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Dan Vogelbach were among seven batters to record two or more hits, with Schwarber tying a single-game career-high with four hits and Vogelbach driving in five RBI as part of an 18-hit barrage in Tennessee's 13-4 victory over the Jackson Generals on Wednesday night at The Ballpark at Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee.
The victory snapped the Smokies' two-game losing skid, and improved their record to a 7-5 mark in 2015. The Generals, meanwhile, fell to 4-7, though they continue to maintain a 2-1 lead in the series with game four set for Thursday evening.
Tennessee scored runs in seven of their nine innings at the plate, with the lone exceptions coming in the fourth and ninth frames. In addition, all nine players in the starting lineup came across home plate at least once, with four of those hitters scoring twice. The 18 hits are a 2015 season-high for the Smokies, and also matches the club's highest output from last year, which incidentally also came at The Ballpark at Jackson on May 10 in a 10-6 win.
Scwharber (4-6, 1 R, 1 RBI) led all batters with his four hits, matching his highest total of his pro career, while Vogelbach (2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB), SS Elliot Soto (3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB), CF Pin-Chieh Chen (3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 BB), LF Albert Almora Jr. (2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI), 2B Stephen Bruno (2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB) and 3B Ryan Dent (2-5 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) all recorded multi-hit efforts.
The 23-year-old Vogelbach continued his hot-hitting ways to start the season, having posted a .432 batting average (19-44), adding six runs, six doubles, two homers, nine RBI, eight walks, a .519 on-base percentage and .705 slugging percentage. The Florida native entered this evening in the top three in the Southern League in most offensive categories, and has also now reached base in all 12 games played.
It was Vogelbach who also helped get the Smokies on the board early as part of a four-run first frame. After Chen walked and Almora Jr. singled, the left-handed slugger crushed the 1-1 offering deep over the right field wall for his second longball of the year, putting Tennessee ahead 3-0. Soto would then record his first of three hits, an RBI single, to extend the advantage to four.
Jackson answered back with their only four runs of the contest in the bottom half of the frame, highlighted by a roundtripper of their own. Following 3B Jordy Lara's run-scoring base knock, DH Dario Pizzano slammed a three-run shot to right to even the contest at 4-4.
The Smokies would take the lead from there in the subsequent inning courtesy of Vogelbach's bases-loaded walk, while Tennessee plated two more in third thanks in part to Dent's RBI single to left to push the cushion to three. The advantage would then increase to 9-4 via single tallies in the fifth and sixth, with a sacrifice fly from Almora Jr. in the former, and Soto's RBI two-bagger in the latter.
Tennessee would eventually add even more insurance in the seventh by bringing home three more scores. Almora Jr. reached via a single, and then took second on Schwarber's third base knock of the evening, before coming home via Vogelbach's run-scoring double to left, the fifth and final run driven in by the first baseman. Bruno then brought both Schwarber and Vogelbach home with a two-run single to left to cap the inning's scoring, while Dent put a final exclamation mark in the eighth with a solo big fly, his first of the season.
After struggling in the opening frame, Smokies starter Ivan Pineyro (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO) settled down and faced one batter over the minimum between the second and fifth innings before eventually giving way to the Tennessee bullpen in the sixth. The right-hander earned his first victory of the season after allowing four earned runs on seven hits, adding no walks and six strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched.
The relief corps duo of Zach Cates (1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) and Starling Peralta (1.2 IP, 3 SO) went on to fire the final 3.1 shutout innings of one-hit ball, combining to also yield only one walk and strike out six. Generals reliever Moises Hernandez (3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) suffered the defeat to fall to 1-1 after surrendering three runs (two earned) over 3.1 frames after starter Scott DeCecco (0.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO) recorded just two outs in the first inning.
Tennessee will look to even the series in the fourth game of their series on Thursday and force a rubber match, with RHP Felix Pena (1-0, 0.75) expected to get the start for the Smokies. The Generals meanwhile, are anticipated to send LHP Tyler Pike (0-1, 3.68) to the hill, with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET from Jackson.
Fans can catch the game on the Smokies Radio Network, with the Pilot Pre-Game Show beginning at 7:50 p.m. ET. The contest will be broadcast on the Smokies' flagship station Sports Radio WNML 99.1 FM, in addition to online on smokiesbaseball.com and on the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Tennessee returns home on Saturday, April 25, to begin a five-game series with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. There will be a special Saturday night fireworks show at the stadium presented by Pepsi, Coors Light, Dollywood's Splash Country, WVLT, WIVK and the Knoxville News Sentinel. It's also Super Hero Night at the ballpark, with the first 1,000 kids age 12 and under receiving a Smokies Super Hero Cape. First pitch for that evening's game is set for 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for that contest and the remainder of the Smokies home schedule are available, and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 865-286-2300. Multi-game voucher packs and season tickets are also still available.