SEVIERVILLE - RHP Tyler Skulina allowed just two hits and one earned run over 6.2 innings, but it was not enough. Birmingham scored once in the first and twice in the seventh, as the Barons shutout the Tennessee Smokies, 3-0, on Monday night in front of 3,370 fans at Smokies Stadium.
Needing just 941 fans to set the organization's single-season attendance record, the Smokies drew 3,000-plus to set a new mark of 285,468 with two more scheduled home games remaining. Monday's record surpasses the previous mark of 283,038 fans welcome through the gates in Sevierville during the 2014 campaign.
With tonight's loss, the Smokies drops to 27-35 in the second half and 55-77 overall. Birmingham's victory improves their mark in the season's second leg to 20-43 and 49-84 in total.
The Barons wasted no time in taking the lead, jumping in front just two batters into the game. Ahead in the count 3-1, SS Marcus Lemon (1-3, R, HR, RBI) crushed a towering fly ball to right that landed in the Pioneer Comfort Porch for a solo home run. The dinger - the veteran's first of the season - put Birmingham ahead, 1-0.
It was a pitcher's duel from that point on. Skulina (6.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) - despite suffering his 12th loss of the year - would not surrender another hit until LF Courtney Hawkins' (1-2, 2 BB, SO) single in the seventh, retiring 11 straight hitters from one out in the third to the end of the sixth.
RHP Spencer Adams (7.0 IP, 4 H, 5 SO) was equally stellar for the Barons. The 20-year-old right-hander allowed just four singles over seven innings, earning the second Double-A win of his career.
Birmingham was able to stretch their lead up to three with a pair of runs in that seventh inning. With one on and one out, DH Chris O'Dowd (0-3, R, BB, SO) drew a walk, signaling the end of Skulina's night. RHP Starling Peralta (1.1 IP, 2 BB) emerged from the bullpen and got 2B Ryan Leonards (0-4, SO) to hit a grounder to short. However, the throw to first was wide - allowing 1BKeon Barnum (0-4, R) to score from second - and extend the Barons' edge to 2-0.
With men now at first and third, CF Hunter Jones (0-3) swung and missed at a pitch, but the ball skipped away. O'Dowd crossed the plate on the passed ball, giving Birmingham a 3-0 lead.
RHP Matt Cooper (2.0 IP, H, 2 SO) was called upon in the eighth and shut the door for the Barons. The right-hander yielded just a two-out single in the ninth - tossing two spotless innings - to earn his first career save at the Double-A level.
By the game's send, Birmingham had scored just three runs on two hits, but it was enough for the victory. 1B Ben Carhart (2-3) led the way for the Smokies' offense, collecting a game-high two hits.
The Smokies looks even the series tomorrow night, as RHP Michael Wagner (2-1, 3.35 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Smokies. Birmingham is projected to go with RHP James Dykstra (4-9, 5.34 ERA), as they look for a series win.
The Pilot Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:50 p.m. ET, leading up to the 7:05 p.m. ET start from Smokies Stadium. Tuesday night's contest can be heard on Sports Radio WNML 99.1 FM and 990 AM, as well as SmokiesBaseball.com or via the TuneIn Radio or MiLB First Pitch apps. Tomorrow's affair can also be viewed on MiLB.tv.
The savings continue at Smokies Stadium tomorrow with a $2 Tuesday. People in attendance can receive soft serve ice cream, large popcorn, nachos with cheese, hot dogs, draft beer and Pepsi products for as low as $2. It will also be a Pilot Prize Night at the stadium. All fans in attendance will receive Pilot Prize Cards that can award patrons anything from free gas to various food items from Pilot Food Marts. That night's contest will also be a Food City Family Night presented by Peter Pan.
The Tennessee Smokies Charity of Choice for the 2016 season is Alzheimer's Tennessee. Alzheimer's Tennessee's mission is to serve those facing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, to promote brain health through education, and to champion global prevention and treatment efforts. For more information on how to join the Tennessee Smokies in helping Alzheimer's Tennessee achieve their mission, please visit http://www.alztennessee.org/smokies/.
Tickets for the season's final two games are still available, and can be purchased online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 865-286-2300
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the ten-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.