The Suns defeated the Smokies 8-5 at the Baseball Grounds to take three of five games in the series. Jacksonville won all three series against Tennessee during the season. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies
By Steve Kolbe
After losing the first two games against Tennessee, the Suns won their third straight over the Smokies 8-5 on Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds. The Suns took eight of the 13 games against the Smokies during the season, and won all three series.
The Suns took the lead in the first when Jake Smolinski led off with a double and Chris Gutierrez singled behind him to put runners on first and third before Smokies starter Nick Struck could record an out. Paul Gran then lifted a sacrifice fly to right scoring Smolinski to put the Suns up 1-0. Jacksonville improved to 23-9 when scoring a run in the first inning.
Gutierrez and Gran each drove in a run in the third to increase the Suns lead to 3-0, and in the fourth Alfredo Lopez hit a RBI-single to make the score 4-0. It was the second straight game that the Suns jumped out to a 4-0 advantage.
Smokies first baseman Justin Bour drove in a run in the fifth against Suns starter Graham Taylor with a single to cut the lead to 4-1. But the Suns scored three more times in the sixth inning against reliever Trey McNutt to pad the lead to 7-1.
In the top of the seventh, Bour smashed the Smokies first grand slam of the season off of Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska to edge Tennessee closer at 7-5. Bour drove in all five of the Smokies runs in the game. The Suns added a run in the home half of the seventh for the 8-5 final.
Graham Taylor (6-8) allowed one run on five hits in six innings for the win. James Leverton pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.
Jake Smolinski went 3-for-5 with two RBI’s and scored three runs. It’s the third time this season that Smolinski has hit three doubles in a game. Chris Gutierrez and Donnie Webb each collected three hits. The first three batters in the Suns lineup combined to drive in six of the Suns eight runs on the night.
The Suns open a five-game series against the Mobile BayBears at Hank Aaron Stadium on Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.