Tennessee third baseman Greg Rohan(above)hits one of the Smokies three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies
By Steve Kolbe
The Tennessee Smokies hit three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Suns on Tuesday night in the first of a five game series at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Suns jumped in front 1-0 in the second inning against Smokies starter Eric Jokisch. Paul Gran led off with his third triple of the season, and scored when Donnie Webb bunted for a base hit to drive in his 32nd run of the year. The Suns fell to 37-16 when scoring the first run of the game.
The Smokies tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third against Suns starter Matthew Neil, when Junior Lake belted his fifth home run of the season. Tennessee added a run in the fifth when Nelson Perez led off with a single, and scored on Lake’s double to right-center to put the Smokies ahead for good at 2-1.
Suns reliever James Leverton entered the game in the sixth inning, and after Mike Burgess was hit by a pitch, Mike Brenly hit a two-run blast to increase the Smokies lead to 4-1. Leverton has allowed four home runs in his last two appearances.
The Smokies doubled the lead in the eighth inning when they batted around and scored four more runs against Suns relief pitcher Jon Link. Justin Bour singled and Greg Rohan doubled to put runners on second and third. Mike Burgess was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. With the infield in, Mike Brenly hit the ball hard to shortstop Chris Gutierrez, with the ball going into the outfield and two runs crossing the plate on the error to pad the Smokies lead to 6-1. Nelson Perez drove in a run with a double, and Logan Watkins added an RBI-single and the score was 8-1 Tennessee. The first five batters in the inning reached base.
Jeff Dominguez led off the eighth inning with a walk, and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Logan Watkins for the Suns final run of the night to make the score 8-2. Greg Rohan launched a solo home run in the ninth inning for the Smokies to make the final 9-2. The nine runs are the most that the Smokies have scored in a game this season against the Suns.
Suns starter Matthew Neil (1-6) allowed two runs on six hits in his five innings of work and has now lost six straight decisions. Eric Jokisch (6-2) surrendered one run on four hits over five innings for the win. The Smokies have won two straight games after a season-high six game losing streak.
Game two of the series is Wednesday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 3.99) will start for the Suns. RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) takes the mound for the Smokies.