KODAK, Tenn. - Despite having manager Darnell Coles and starting pitcher Tyler Thornburg ejected from the game in the sixth inning, the Huntsville Stars edged out the Tennessee Smokies by a score of 6-4 on Wednesday night at Smokies Park.
Fortunately for the Stars, they were able to get on the board for the first time this series thanks to a solid second inning. Following singles from catcher Anderson De La Rosa and Thornburg off of Smokies starter Dallas Beeler, three consecutive two-out, RBI singles by center fielder Josh Prince, shortstop Tommy Manzella and second baseman Scooter Gennett gave Huntsville a 3-0 lead.
After Tennessee responded with a two-run homerun by catcher Mike Brenly in the bottom half of the inning to cut the Stars lead to 3-2, the game would quiet down until the fifth inning. In the top half of the frame, an RBI groundout from right fielder Kentrail Davis and a RBI single by left fielder Lee Haydel put the lead back at three for the Stars.
However, in the bottom half of the fifth, the Smokies gained a run back. On one swing of the bat, a solo homerun from Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake off of Thornburg made the score 5-3. This was the first time this season the Stars' righty gave up more than one homerun in an outing.
In the sixth inning, Coles was ejected arguing a runners interference call on Manzella after trying to break up a double play at second. Thornburg, continuing the argument from the dugout, was then tossed. Despite his early departure, the 23-year-old improved to 7-0 on the season after giving up three runs four hits in five innings of work.
The Smokies continued to come back and cut the Stars lead in the seventh. Brenly scored from third on a wild pitch from Stars reliever Mitch Stetter, putting the score at 5-4. The Stars were able to get back that run in the eighth on another RBI single by Manzella, his second of the game.
With a 6-4 lead, RHP Brandon Kintzler held the Smokies scoreless through the final two innings to notch his first save on the season. Kintzler has now not given up a run in his first five outings, spanning 5.2 innings.
On offense for Huntsville, Manzella, Prince, Gennett and De La Rosa each had two hits. For Gennett, his 2-for-5 night at the plate increased his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest for a Stars player this year. The Stars offense amassed 12 hits, all singles, tying the record for most singles hit in a game this season.
Game four of a five-game series will begin on Thursday as the Stars will send RHP Kyle Heckathorn (2-4, 4.99 ERA) to the mound to square off against LHP Eric Jockish (1-0, 3.60 ERA). First pitch is at 6:15 CT.