BIRMINGHAM, AL - The Tennessee Smokies defeated the Birmingham Barons 11-1 on Thursday night in Birmingham. It was Tennessee's second win in-a-row and put them a game over .500 with a 61-60 record.
Michael Rucker got the start for the Smokies and gained his ninth win of the season. Rucker pitched six innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six. Rucker is now 4-1 in his last 10 starts.
In the fourth inning, the Smokies managed just one hit but five runs crossed the plate. Yasiel Balaguert walked to start the inning and reached second as a fielding error also allowed Vimael Machin to reach first. After another error loaded the bases, Jeffrey Baez hit a sacrifice fly to give the Smokies a 1-0 lead with two outs. Wynton Bernard was hit by a pitch to load the bases back up and Zack Short got Tennessee's first hit of the inning when he hit a grand slam into the Smokies bullpen. That made it a 5-0 game and was Short's 15th home run of the season.
Short continued his hot night in the top of the sixth. With two runners on, Short singled to left field, and Baez beat the throw to the plate to make it a 6-0 Tennessee lead. In the top of the seventh, it was Eddy Martinez who added to the Smokies lead as he belted a two-run home run over the fence in left field. In the bottom of the ninth, Tennessee added three more when Machin singled in Rice and Martinez doubled home Balaguert and Machin. That made the score 11-1.
Preston Morrison replaced Rucker in the bottom of the seventh and pitched a scoreless inning. Scott Effross did the same with a scoreless eighth inning and Jake Stinnett closed it out with a scoreless inning of his own.
The Smokies and Barons will continue their final series against each other on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET in Birmingham. Tennessee's hottest starting pitcher, Keegan Thompson, is the projected starter for Friday night as he looks to improve on his 5-1 record and 2.62 ERA. The Barons will counter with Dylan Cease who is 3-0 this season with a 1.94 ERA.
Written by Rob Harvey, Broadcast Assistant for the Tennessee Smokies
The full schedule for this season and information regarding single-game tickets, season tickets, and mini plans can be found 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.