BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - For the third consecutive day, the Smokies offense struck first, while RHP Zach Hedges hurled seven innings of spotless ball to pick up his first Double-A win, as Tennessee knocked off the Birmingham Barons, 5-1, on Thursday night at Regions Field.
With the win, Tennessee has now won four straight contests and improved its second half record to 18-21 and overall mark to 46-63. Birmingham's loss drops them to 15-25 in the year's second leg and 44-66 in total.
The Smokies wasted no time in getting the offense going, scoring two batters into the ballgame. 2B Chesny Young (1-3, R, 2B, BB, SO) led off the contest by squeezing a double down the left field line and 3B Gioskar Amaya (1-5, RBI, SO) by stroking a deflected ball into center for a hit of his own. Young came home to score on the Venezuelan native's single to put Tennessee ahead, 1-0.
That was plenty of run support for Hedges (7.0 IP, 4 H, BB, 4 SO) who cruised en route to his first Double-A win. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed just four hits - none over his final five innings of work - and induced three double play grounders over seven shutout innings.
Tennessee added a pair of runs to their cart in the fourth and fifth frames.
In the fourth, 1B Ben Carhart (2-2, R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB) drew a one-out walk and LF Lane Adams (1-4, 2 SO) followed with a single into left. After a fielder's choice erased the runner heading to second, CF Trey Martin (1-4, 3B, 2 RBI, SO) delivered with men on the corners. The Georgia-born outfielder smashed a line shot into right-center field that rolled all the way to the wall. Both runners scored, as Martin chugged into third with a triple to put Tennessee in front, 3-0.
C Victor Caratini (0-3, R, BB) started the rally in the fifth by drawing a two-out walk. DH David Freitas (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 SO) made sure the free pass burned the Barons by rifiling a towering shot to center. The clout banged off the fence for a double - scoring the Smokies' backstop - to stretch the advantage to 4-0. Carhart proceeded to smash a RBI double of his own to give Tennessee a 5-0 edge.
The second two-bagger chased RHP James Dykstra (4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO) from the contest. The 25-year-old was tagged for five runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings, suffering his sixth defeat of the season.
Birmingham scored their only run of the night in the bottom of the ninth as RF Courtney Hawkins' (1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB, SO) solo home run broke up the shutout.
Carhart logged the Smokies lone multi-hit game by collecting a pair of hits and reaching all four times he came to the plate. Adams - who signed with the Cubs yesterday after being released by the New York Yankees on July 28 - went 1-for-4 in his Smokies debut.
The Smokies will look continue their winning ways on Friday night as they welcome the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, to town. RHP Tyler Skulina (4-10, 5.79 ERA) is expected to grab the ball for Tennessee in series opener, while Major League rehabber - RHP Chase Whitley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) - is scheduled to toe the slab for the Rays.
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 first pitch from Smokies Stadium. Friday evening's broadcast can be heard on Sports Radio WNML 99.1 FM and 990 AM, as well as SmokiesBaseball.com and via the TuneInRadio and MiLB First Pitch apps. The contest can also be viewed on MiLB.tv.
In honor of the upcoming festivies in Rio de Janeiro, it will be Olympics Night at the ballpark on Friday evening. There will be special videoboard graphics, on-field games and music as a part of the fun. It will also be College Fair Night, as students will have a chance to meet with representatives from local colleges and universities on the concourse. It will also be another Scout Night with special ticket packages available for local boy and girl scout groups. Finally, like all Friday home contests, there will be a tremendous postgame fireworks show following the final out. Friday night fireworks are presented by Pepsi, Coors Light, WIVK, WVLT and the Knoxville News Sentinel.
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.
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/.
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.