Sevierville, TN – The Tennessee Smokies brought a three run lead into the eighth inning tonight, but the bullpen could not hold it as the Smokies lost to the Mobile BayBears by a score of 7-5. A stunned crowd of 3,351 watched the Smokies fall to 1-1 for the second half of the season.
After Mobile took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning off a solo home run by Bryan Byrne, the Smokies struck back in the bottom of the third to take the lead back. Welington Castillo singled to center to start off the inning. He scored later in the inning off an RBI single by Matt Camp to tie the score at 1-1. Jake Fox continued his hot hitting with a two-run single to center field, and the Smokies took a 3-1 lead.
Smokies starter and newly acquired pitcher Esmailin Caridad was very effective in his first appearance at Smokies Park. Caridad allowed just one run on three hits and two walks through six innings of work. He left the game with a 4-1 lead, as Fox added his third RBI of the game in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to score Camp.
With the game in the bullpen’s hands, Mobile struck for five runs in top of the eighth inning to take the lead. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Rusty Ryal off of Smokies reliever Michael Cooper (1-3) to take a 5-4 lead. The Smokies were down 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning and looked to be mounting a comeback to regain the lead. Fox walked the start off the inning, and then moved to second on a single by Tyler Colvin. After moving to third on a Doug Deeds groundout, Fox scored off a wild pitch to pull Tennessee to within one run. The Smokies would strand two runners to end the inning as pinch hitter Joe Simokaitis flew out to left field with the score 6-5 Mobile.
The BayBears got an insurance run in the top of the ninth to extend their lead to 7-5, which brought in closer Reid Mahon. The Smokies were retired in order in the ninth inning, giving Mahon his seventeenth save of the season and preserving the win for Vince Bongiovanni (2-1).