SMOKIES RIDE CHEN’S ARM TO 4-2 WIN ON WEDNESDAY
Chen strikes out eight in Tennessee’s 4-2 win over Huntsville
KODAK, Tennessee – Another strong pitching performance by the Tennessee Smokies’ starting rotation propelled them to their second win in as many nights against the Huntsville Stars, 4-2. Hung-Wen Chen’s eight-strikeout performance helped give this week’s series to the Smokies and extended the team’s lead over the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in the Southern League North Division to 1.5 games.
Tennessee’s offense gave Chen a little breathing room early on. With one out in the second, Josh Vitters singled to center to bring home Blake Lalli and give the Smokies a 1-0 lead.
Following a Huntsville run in the fourth to tie the game at one, Tennessee’s Brandon Guyer answered in the fifth for the Smokies with a two-run, 394-foot shot to left-center. Both he and Tony Thomas crossed home to put the Smokies back up 3-1.
Vitters and Lalli teamed up again in the sixth, as Vitters’ single with two outs brought Lalli home from third to give the Smokies a 4-1 lead.
Chen would give way to the Smokies bullpen after the seventh. Alex Maestri came on in the eighth and held Huntsville scoreless. However in the ninth, Huntsville made things interesting against reliever Ryan Buchter, scoring a run in the frame and putting the tying run on second with two outs. David Cales (S, 5) came on though to shut down the Stars and get the save.
The Smokies now turn their attention to the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in Tennessee’s most important series to-date. The I-40 rivals kick off their five-game battle for first place Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Smokies Park. Tennessee’s RHP Alberto Cabrera (0-2, 8.18) will start against West Tenn’s RHP Steve Bray (3-3, 2.52).