Sevierville, TN – The Tennessee Smokies dropped the rubber match of the five game series against the Carolina Mudcats on Monday night at Smokies Park 6-4 in front of 2,329 fans. Former Bearden High School standout Brett Carroll was the difference maker for the Mudcats, hitting a pinch-hit home run in the 8th inning to give Carolina the lead.
Both starters were dominant early in the contest, yielding no runs through the first three innings. Unlike previous games in the series, the Smokies struck first to take a 2-0 lead. Jemel Spearman’s patience helped draw a walk after being down 0-2 in the count. Jake Fox came to the plate and hit a 2-run homerun to right center off Manuel Olivera. The Smokies added another run the inning after three straight singles, with Matt Craig bringing home Josh Kroeger to make the score 3-0.
The Mudcats did not waste any time cutting the lead down to one. Kevin Randel hit a 2-run homerun to make the score 3-2 in the 5th. The Smokies quickly got the run back though in the bottom half of the inning. Spearman singled to get things started, followed by a hit by Fox. Southern League batting leader Kroeger made the score 4-2 with an RBI single to left.
The Mudcats used a late rally to take the lead back 6-4. Dante Brinkley continued his hot hitting versus the Smokies with an RBI double in the 6th. In the 8th, Matt Carroll gave Carolina another run after blasting a homerun off the top of the scoreboard off Smokies reliever Billy Petrick (0-1). Brinkley reached on a single, and then stole second base. After a wild pitch, Chase Lambin brought him home on a sacrifice fly, giving the Mudcats the two-run lead.
Wes Letson (2-0) notched the win for the Smokies by pitching one inning of scoreless relief. Kurt Koehler pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save of the season.
The Smokies take to the road for the next ten days for a five game series in Birmingham, followed by a five game series in Montgomery. Tennessee will return home for a five game set against the Chattanooga Lookouts on Saturday May 12th.