The Rocket City Trash Pandas used a timely late home run by Orlando Martinez and clutch pitching from starter Davis Daniel three relievers to defeat the Tennessee Smokies 4-2 in the second game of their four-game set on Friday night in front of an energetic crowd of 6,038 at Toyota
The Rocket City Trash Pandas used a timely late home run by Orlando Martinez and clutch pitching from starter Davis Daniel three relievers to defeat the Tennessee Smokies 4-2 in the second game of their four-game set on Friday night in front of an energetic crowd of 6,038 at Toyota Field.
The win, coupled with Birmingham’s loss, puts the Trash Pandas alone in first place in the Double-A South North Division for the first time in team history. Rocket City also moved to within a game and a half of the final playoff spot with Montgomery’s loss to Pensacola.
With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh, the Smokies nearly restored their lead, but strong relief work from Matthias Dietz kept it tied. With a runner on third and one out, Dietz struck out Bradlee Beasley and induced a ground out from Matt Burch to end the inning.
Ray-Patrick Didder started the rally in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out single to left. Orlando Martinez followed with a towering 392-foot two-run homer to right, his 16th of the season, to put the Trash Pandas in front 4-2.
In the eighth, the Smokies threatened with runners on the corners with one out. However, Keith Rogalla struck out Carlos Sepulveda and got an inning-ending double play on a well-struck ground ball from Christopher Morel to maintain the 4-2 lead.
Closer Kolton Ingram entered for the Trash Pandas and worked around an error to pitch a scoreless top of the ninth, finishing the win and earning the save, his third of the season.
The game didn’t begin as well as it ended for the Trash Pandas. In the top of the second, former Angels farmhand Harrison Wenson launched a two-run homer to left in his first Tennessee at-bat to open the scoring against Rocket City starter Davis Daniel.
The Trash Pandas got one back in the bottom of the second on an RBI fielder’s choice from Livan Soto to score Torii Hunter Jr. off Smokies starter Ryan Jensen.
Daniel rebounded to dominate the Smokies for the remainder of his start. He recorded two strikeouts in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, and another one in the sixth to end on a high note, retiring the final 13 hitters he faced.
Over six quality innings, Daniel allowed just two runs on three hits while walking none and striking out 11 to keep the Trash Pandas close.
The Trash Pandas evened the score in the bottom of the fifth. Didder and Martinez reached with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with one out. David MacKinnon followed with a sacrifice fly to center, plating Didder with the tying run.
Daniel ended his start after six, setting the stage for the late heroics from the Trash Pandas in their third straight win.
At the plate, Martinez’s two-run homer was the deciding hit in a 2-for-3 night while Didder also recorded a pair of hits and two runs. Anthony Mulrine added a season-high three hits in the victory.
The Trash Pandas pitching quartet of Daniel, Dietz (W, 1-0), Rogalla (HLD, 5), and Ingram (S, 3), combined to record 15 strikeouts and walk none, the second straight game without a walk for Trash Pandas pitching.
Rocket City (52-48) and Tennessee (42-55) continue their series on Saturday night with a 6:35 p.m. matchup at Toyota Field. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The game will be televised locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV.