Offense explodes as Smokies beat Carolina 9-4

KODAK, Tenn. ( -- The Tennessee Smokies’ bat came alive Monday afternoon; as the Smokies defeated the Carolina Mudcats 9-4 win at Smokies Park. The win, in front of 5,154 fans on Safe Kids Health Awareness Day, won the Smokies the series 3-2, and improved the Smokies overall record to 16-9 on the year.

The Smokies collected 12 hits for the afternoon, with five players going for multi-hit games. Josh Vitters and Matt Spencer, who both homered, along with Marwin Gonzalez, who added three hits with two RBI on the afternoon, led the Smokies offense.

Carolina got on the board first, putting up a run in the top of the second when Chris McMurray grounded scoring Felix Perez. The Smokies answered quickly in the bottom half, when Rebel Ridling led off the inning with a single, was moved to second by a Steve Clevenger walk and scored on a single by Gonzalez tying the game at one.

In the third, Carolina came back with a three-run inning to take a 4-1 lead, highlighted by a two-run double from Felix Perez and RBI single from Jose Castro.

The Smokies bats then busted out with five consecutive hits in the bottom half. D.J. LeMahieu reached on a throwing error, and Spencer followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Ridling singled to score LeMahieu, and then Clevenger ripped a double to center field to bringing in Spencer and Ridling and knotting the game at 4-4. Vitters double to left, scoring Clevenger and a Gonzalez single scored Vitters and gave the Smokies a 6-4 lead.

LeMahieu led off the seventh inning with a single, then Spencer extended the Smokies’ lead to 8-4 with a two-run homer, then Vitters made it 9-4 in the eighth with a solo shot. The Smokies have now scored eight or more runs six times through their first two home series.

Rob Whitenack (1-0) picked up the win in his Smokies Park debut, and second start for Tennessee, going five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out four. Hung-Wen Chen, Marco Carrillo, and Blake Parker were strong in relief, combining for four innings of scoreless work and allowing only two hits.

The Smokies will now travel to Mobile, Ala. to take on the Mobile BayBears in a five-game series through Saturday, April 7. Tennessee will return to Smokies Park to battle for first place with the Huntsville Stars starting Monday, April 9 through Friday, April 13. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (865) 286-2300.

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