With 3,000+ screaming kids in attendance for "Education Day" at Joe Davis Stadium late Wednesday morning, the Huntsville Stars dropped their sixth game in their last seven games, falling to the Tennessee Smokies by a score of 4-1.
What first starting as a pitchers duel between Stars starter Taylor Jungmann and Smokies starter Eric Jokisch turned into a one-sided affair with one swing of the at-bat.
After holding the Smokies scoreless for the first five innings of the game, Jungmann ran into trouble trying to finish out the sixth inning. With two outs, Jungmann walked both shortstop Arismendy Alcantra and first basemen Justin Bour. During the next at-bat, third basemen Christian Villanueva turned on a hanging breaking ball that just cleared the left-field wall and the outstretched arms of Stars outfielder T.J Mittlestaedt that gave Tennessee the lead for good.
Jungmann fell to 1-2 on the season with the loss, giving up those three runs on just two hits while striking out three and walking four.
Following a scoreless 2.1 innings pitched by Stars relievers Alan Williams and Eric Marzec, lefty Brian Garman gave up a run in the 9th inning on a RBI single by Smokies second basemen Jonathan Mota to make the score 4-0.
The Stars got their only run in the bottom half of the ninth, as an error by Alcantra at short on a sharp grounder from center fielder Brock Kjeldgaard scored right fielder Kentrail Davis to avoid the shutout. Huntsville had the potential game-tying run at the plate in the ninth as well, but Tennessee reliever Brian Schlitter got pinch-hitter Mike Walker to groundout to end the ballgame.
Jokish was the story for the Smokies, improving to 2-0 on the year by shutting out the Stars offense through six innings of work. The southpaw only gave up three hits and struck out seven batters without walking anyone in the process.
On offense, the Stars were only able to piece together four hits, one of them from shortstop Jeff Bianchi, who played his first full game with the Stars since being assigned to Huntsville on a MLB rehab stint. The Brewers utility infielder went 1-for-3 with a walk, and now 4-for-10 in four games with the Stars.
Besides Bianchi, third basemen Shea Vucinich, catcher Shawn Zarraga and pinch-hitter Adam Weisenburger were the only others to have a hit.
The Stars and Smokies will play game four of a five-game series at Joe Davis Stadium on Thursday. Huntsville will send RHP Andy Moye (1-1, 5.19 ERA) to the bump to square off against Tennessee RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 4.09 ERA). First pitch is at the regular time of 6:43 PM.
After wrapping up their five-game series and ten game homestand against the Smokies on Friday, the Stars will immediately hit the road for five games against the Birmingham Barons.