Buddy Bailey with Smokies in 2008
Matt Cerda's eighth inning home run proved to be what the Tennessee Smokies needed to defeat the Birmingham Barons Thursday afternoon, 3-2. The crowd of 3,887 at Smokies Park was treated to a great game that saw the Smokies improve to 33-34 on the season. Birmingham dropped to 29-37.
Tennessee starter Nick Struck was able to get out of a jam in the first inning. The righty allowed two Barons to single, but Stuck got Seth Loman to fly out to center to end the threat.
The Smokies scored twice in the third with two outs off Barons starter Nestor Molina (4-6). Logan Watkins singled and Jae-Hoon Ha followed with a single, putting two runners on. Justin Bour increased his league-leading RBI count to 52 with a double to left field to score Watkins and Bour to take a 2-0 lead.
Struck (7-6) settled in to go 5.2 innings allowing no runs on four hits and fanning three.
Smokies reliever Alberto Cabrera came in and tossed a solid two innings, allowing just one hit while striking out two.
Cerda blasted his second home run of the season off Birmingham reliever Leroy Hunt to put the Smokies in front 3-0.
The Barons staged a rally in the ninth off North Division All-Star reliever Kevin Rhoderick. After getting the first two men out, Rhoderick walked two and would be replaced by Jeff Antigua. Antigua would allow a two-RBI double to pinch hitter Damaso Espino to narrow the Smokies' lead, 3-2.
With the tying run on second, Antigua (S, 1) got Jose Martinez to pop out to end the game to give the Smokies their ninth win in the last 10 games.
The two Barons' runs were charged to Rhoderick and ended his scoreless streak after 20.1 innings.
The Smokies and Barons will face off in Game 3 of their five-game set on Friday night at 7:15 at Smokies Park. RHP Dallas Beeler (1-5, 4.24) will start for the Smokies against Brandon Kloess (2-2, 2.61). It's "All Things Chicago Night" at Smokies Park, and make sure to stick around following the game for a Chicago-themed fireworks show. For tickets or more information call (865) 286-2300 or visit www.smokiesbaseball.com
The Tennessee Smokies