The Hits Just Keep Coming for the Stars in 7-3 Win

(HUNTSVILLE) - After pounding 17 hits against the Carolina Mudcats, Sunday afternoon, the Huntsville Stars strung 16 together Monday night against the Tennessee Smokies for a 7-3 victory, their 6th in 9 games.

Mat Gamel, who went 5-for-5 with an RBI Sunday, went 3-for-5, raising his season average to a league-leading .383, driving in a pair of runs.

Cole Gillespie and Alcides Escobar also collected three hits. Gillespie added a pair of doubles and drove in a pair of runs.

The Stars pushed across single runs in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings to take a 4-1 lead. Gamel doubled in the Stars' first run, his league-best 71st RBI, scoring Freddy Parejo, who hit a one-out single to center.

Starter David Welch singled in Gillespie in the 4th before Parejo was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but the Stars could not cash in, as Escobar bounced into a force out at the plate and Gamel fouled out.

Despite the win, Welch failed in his 4th try to pick up his 9th win, throwing 86 pitches in only four innings. He gave up a run on just 3 hits, but walked 4, while striking out 2.

The Smokies got as close as they would ever get in the bottom of the 4th, pushing across a run to make it 2-1 on a Mark Reed grounder that scored Matt Craig, who opened the inning with a walk.

The Stars increased their lead to 3-1 on Mike Bell's 2-out single in the 5th to score Gillespie. That put an end to James Russell's night. Russell (3-3) was touched for 9 hits in his 5 innings of work, walking one and striking out three.

Mark Holliman, who no-hit the Stars last year, took over in the 6th. He gave up an RBI single to Gamel that again scored Parejo to make it 4-1 Stars.

David Johnson took over for Welch and tossed two scoreless innings in relief to get the win. He is now 3-2. Johnson (3-2) now has a string of 6 scoreless innings over his last five appearances dating back to June 3, gving up just 4 hits.

Gillespie's 2-out, 2-run double of Ed Campusano in the 8th pushed the Stars lead to 6-1. That increased his RBI total to 52, making him the 5th Stars batter to drive in more than 50 runs this season.

The Smokies tightened the game against Jason Shiell, 6-3 in the 8th, when Jake Fox opened with a single, moved to third on Craig's double and scored when Escobar couldn't come up with Doug Deeds' ground ball. Centerfielder Parejo overran the ball, allowing Craig to score.

Juan Sandoval, walked pinch-hitter Kyle Reynolds in the 8th before retiring shortstop Matt Camp on a comebacker to end the inning. Sandoval then retired the side in order in the 9th to get his 9th save and extend his scoreless innings streak to 13 1/3 over his last 9 outings.

The Stars improve to 7-6 in the 2nd half and trail the 1st-place Smokies (9-4) by two games in the Northern Division.

The Stars, who have now won back-to-back games, get their first chance Tuesday night to win three straight since sweeping the Smokies in a five-game series back in mid-May. Southpaw Brae Wright (6-6, 3.56) will get the start against Smokies' right-hander Mitch Atkins (7-6, 4.05).