Sevierville, TN – The Tennessee Smokies woes continued on Wednesday night at Smokies Park as they dropped their second game in a row to the visiting Mississippi Braves by the score of 2-1. The loss dropped the Smokies to 16-31 on the season, and wasted a fantastic pitching display by starter Donnie Veal (2-4).
Mississippi sent Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Rafael Soriano to the mound on a rehab start this evening. Soriano threw one complete inning, allowing one hit with no runs, one walk and one strikeout. He is due to pitch another rehab start on Friday night at Smokies Park.
After Soriano left, the game turned into a pitchers duel between Veal and Braves scheduled starter James Parr (3-3). Veal and Parr kept both offenses scoreless over the next four innings, and then both ran into trouble in the sixth. Veal allowed two runs to score in the top of the sixth off a Jason Perry RBI double and a run scoring sacrifice fly off the bat of Javier Guzman. With the score 2-0 Braves, the Smokies plated a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Matt Camp, who was 3-4 on the night, led off the inning with a single and later scored on an RBI single by Doug Deeds.
With the score 2-1 in favor of Mississippi in the bottom of the eighth, the Smokies were seemingly poised to take the lead. Camp had a one-out single to center field, followed by a Sam Fuld single to left. Tyler Colvin then walked, which brought Matt Craig to the plate to face Braves closer Luis Valdez. Craig blooped a weak fly ball to right field that looked to be in for a hit, but Braves right fielder Perry made an outstanding diving catch to rob Craig of a potential game changing hit. Fuld mistakenly overran Camp at third base on the play, which resulted in the third out of the inning.
The Smokies again mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth that fell just short. With Deeds on second with one out, Kyle Reynolds fouled out on an outstanding catch in the dugout by third baseman Van Pope. Jake Fox then came up to pinch hit, but his drive to deep left center was caught at the warning track to end the game and give Valdez his seventh save of the season.
The series against the Mississippi Braves continues on Thursday night with a 7:15 pm start time at Smokies Park. The Smokies will send right-hander Mark Holliman (0-1, 8.53) to the mound to face off against Mississippi right-hander Todd Redmond (3-1, 3.67).