PENSACOLA, Fla. - C Chad Wallach and LF Phillip Ervin ripped home runs in the second and third innings, respectively, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos upended the Tennessee Smokies, 4-2, on Saturday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
With the loss, Tennessee drops to 19-28 in the second half and 47-70 overall. Pensacola's victory improves their mark in the season's second leg to 24-24 and 65-53 in total.
For the first time in the series, the Smokies jumped out to an early lead. 2B Ian Happ (2-4, R, 2B, RBI) stroked a line drive double to center that snuck past the outstretched glove of the center fielder and C Victor Caratini (0-2, 2 BB) followed with a free pass. 3B Jason Vosler (1-4, 2B, RBI, SO) would put the Smokies ahead by ripping a hard grounder down the left-field line. Happ scored on the double by the former Northeastern star to put Tennessee up, 1-0.
The lead was short lived, as Pensacola rallied to take the lead in the second. After RHP Michael Wagner (6.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 6 SO) retired the first five batters of the game, 3B Taylor Sparks (1-3, R, 2B, SO) ignited the attack with a two-bagger to center. 1B Eric Jagielo (0-1, R, 2 BB, SO) would walk to set the stage for Wallach (1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, SO). The former fifth-round pick cranked a towering drive to left that sailed over the wall for a three-run homer. The blast - Wallach's sixth of the year - put the Wahoos ahead, 3-1.
Pensacola added another run to their docket thanks to the long ball in the third. With two down, Ervin (1-3, R, HR, RBI) crushed another no-doubter over the left-field fence for a solo jack. The home run - number 11 for the former Samford star - gave the Blue Wahoos a 4-1 advantage.
Tennessee would add one final run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Happ.
The two gopher balls were plenty of run support for RHP Sal Romano (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO). The former University of Tennessee commit allowed just two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings for his fifth win of the season.
Wagner (6.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 6 SO) faired well - allowing just three hits over six innings - but the four runs on the two homers could not get the job done. The 24-year-old was saddled with his first loss at the Double-A level during the 2016 campaign.
Happ (2-4, R, 2B, RBI), 1B Ben Carhart (2-4) and SS Carlos Penalver (2-4, R) led the way for the Smokies offense by recording six of the team's seven hits. Caratini (0-2, 2 BB) did not pick up a knock, but two free passes allowed him to extend his on-base streak to a season-high 17 games.
The Smokies will look to get back in the win column on Sunday night, as Southern League Mid-Season All-Star - RHP Brad Markey (6-7, 3.08 ERA) - is anticpated to get the start for the Smokies. RHP Nick Travieso (4-6, 4.00 ERA) is projected to grab the ball for Pensacola.
The Pilot Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 4:45 p.m. ET, leading up to the 5:00 p.m. ET start from Blue Wahoos Stadium. Sunday evening's contests can be heard exclusively on SmokiesBaseball.com or via the TuneIn Radio or MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the five-game road trip, the Smokies will return home to take on the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, on Wednesday, August 17. That night's affair will be a Smoky Mountain Popcorn All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday. For less than $25 dollars a person, fans can enjoy all-you-can-eat hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, baked beans, potato chips, ice cream sandwiches and Pepsi products. That night's matchup is schedule to get underway at 7:05 p.m.
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/.
Single-game tickets, as well as multi-voucher and season ticket packages 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.