Trash Pandas come up short 8-5

Rocket City, Smokies meet Wednesday in Game two of weekday series
Tucker Flint (22) rounds third during game against the Tennessee Smokies Tuesday June 6, 2024
Tucker Flint (22) rounds third during game against the Tennessee Smokies Tuesday June 6, 2024(WAFF)
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In a back-and-forth affair, the Rocket City Trash Pandas couldn’t keep up with the Tennessee Smokies, ultimately falling 8-5 in the opener of a six-game series on Tuesday night at Toyota Field.

Rocket City starter Zac Kristofak began the game in fine form, retiring the Smokies in order to start the game. The Trash Pandas struck first in the bottom half, with David Calabrese hitting a leadoff double and coming home on an RBI single from Orlando Martinez against Tennessee starter Jordan Wicks.

The Smokies loaded the bases with nobody out in the second, but were only able to get one run to tie the game on Nelson Maldonado’s sacrifice fly. An inning later, the Smokies took the lead for the first time on a throwing error from Trash Pandas third baseman Kevin Maitan, followed by a double from Owen Caissie to make it 3-1.

Rocket City responded in the fourth to take the lead back. Jeremiah Jackson began the inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on an error, and eventually came home to score on Tucker Flint’s RBI single. Bryce Teodosio kept the inning going with a ground rule double into the left field corner. David Calabrese brought both runners home with a sharp single to center, giving the Trash Pandas a 4-3 lead after four.

Kristofak was able to hold it in the fifth. However, his luck ran out in the sixth. With two outs and a runner on second, Cole Roederer put the Smokies back in front 5-4 with a two-run homer to dead center, just eluding the leaping attempt from Teodosio at the wall. A two-out rally plated three more Tennessee runs with reliever Luke Murphy in the game, extending the lead to 8-4.

Over 5.2 innings, Kristofak (L, 4-2) allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts to suffer just his second loss of the season. Murphy allowed two runs in 1.1 frames of relief, striking out three. Wicks lasted four innings for the Smokies, giving up four runs on eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Blake Whitney (W, 2-0) pitched two scoreless innings to maintain the lead.

In the seventh, Edgar Quero got a run back for the Trash Pandas with his second home run of the season, a 402-foot solo shot to left-center that left his bat at 102 miles per hour to make it an 8-5 game.

The Trash Pandas brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the eighth. Smokies reliever Danis Correa was called on and escaped the jam by inducing a ground out from Kevin Maitan.

In the ninth, Correa (S, 1) returned to the mound and worked around a leadoff single from Teodosio to finish the win and earn the save, his first of the season.

Calabrese led the way from the top of the lineup, going 2-for-5 with two RBI. Kyren Paris stole his team-leading 16th stolen base in the loss while Flint and Teodosio each added two hits. Ivan Armstrong ended the night on the mound for the Trash Pandas, throwing two scoreless frames with five strikeouts.

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