With the opportunity to provide late inning heroics for the second night in a row, the Huntsville Stars stranded the potential game-tying run on second in the ninth inning and fell to the Tennessee Smokies by a score of 4-3 on Tuesday night at Joe Davis Stadium.
With the wind blowing out during the majority of the evening, the longball was the primary source of offense early on in the game, especially for the Smokies.
In the second inning, the Smokies began a stretch of three straight innings with solo home runs as Tennessee first basemen Justin Bour leadoff the frame with a opposite-field moonshot over the left field wall off of Stars starter Ariel Pena (L, 0-1). Pena then went on to give up a homer to center fielder Matt Szczur in the third and then a blast from right fielder Rubi Silva (second HR in as many games) in the fourth inning to give the Smokies a 3-0 lead.
To get into the swing of things, Stars right fielder Kentrail Davis joined the homer brigade in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff blast off of Smokies starter Alberto Cabrera (W, 2-1) to cut the Tennessee lead to 3-1.
The Stars continued their offensive momentum into the fifth inning, where an RBI double from first baseman Jason Rogers scored second baseman Nick Shaw to cut the Stars deficit to one.
Unfortunately, Huntsville would get no closer than that.
After a leadoff double in the seventh inning from Silva, a RBI double from Tennessee third baseman Christian Villanueva off of Stars reliever Santo Manzanillo to bring the Smokies lead back to two.
In the ninth inning, the Stars provided one last surge off of Tennessee closer Frank Batista to try to continue their recent trend of comeback wins. To start the inning, catcher Adam Weisenburger (walk) and pinch-hitter Robinson Diaz (single) both reach base off of Batista. After Shaw grounded into a fielders choice to put runners at first and third, an RBI groundout by shortstop Hector Gomez plated Weisenburger to put the Stars back down by one.
However, with Shaw in scoring position at second base, Batista got Davis to groundout to first to notch his second save of the season and end the ballgame.
For the Stars, Tuesday's game was their third straight contest that was decided by one run and the fourth out of their last five.
On offense, the Stars were led by Rogers and center fielder Brock Kjeldgaard who had two his apiece. The two-hit night for Rogers was his second in a row, and his sixth of the season already.
The Stars and Smokies will have a very quick turnaround as they play game three of a five-game series at Joe Davis Stadium on Wednesday morning for their only "Education Day" of the season. Huntsville will send RHP Taylor Jungmann (1-1, 9.82 ERA) to the hill to square off against Tennessee LHP Eric Jokish (1-0, 1.50 ERA). First pitch is a special time of 10:43 AM.