Smokies advance to championship series

Tennessee won the Southern League title in 2004 and last appeared in the series in 2011.
Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee Smokies(WVLT)
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 12:15 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Tennessee Smokies (2-1) clinched a trip to the Southern League Championship Series with a 3-1 win over the Rocket City Trash Pandas (1-2) Friday night at the Toyota Field in Madison, Alabama.

A pair of home runs from Harrison Wenson backed a quality start from Chris Clarke as the Smokies eliminated the Trash Pandas and advanced to the final series for the first time since 2011.

Though the Smokies went 12-18 against Rocket City in the regular season, they got revenge on the Trash Pandas by winning back-to-back elimination games.

Wenson opened the game’s scoring with a solo homer in the third inning. Rocket City answered with a run in its half of the third, but Jake Slaughter singled in what proved to be the winning run in the fifth. Wenson later added an insurance run with his second solo shot of the night off of Ben Joyce.

RHP Chris Clarke (W, 1-0) lifted the Smokies with a six-inning gem. He allowed only five hits and a run while striking out seven Trash Pandas.

Samuel Reyes struck out five in a three-inning save to secure the win and send Tennessee to the Championship Series, where the Smokies look to take home their first outright championship since 1978.

The Smokies will play the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Southern League Championship Series, beginning Sunday, Sept. 25. Game 1 will be at Blue Wahoo Stadium in Pensacola, and Games 2 and, if necessary, 3 will be at Smokies Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 27-28. Fans can catch the action here.