CHEN DELIVERS FOR SMOKIES IN WIN MONDAY NIGHT
Series-clinching win over West Tenn puts Smokies 2.5 games ahead in first half division race
KODAK, Tennessee – In arguably his biggest start to-date this season, Hung-Wen Chen came through with his most clutch performance. He kept hot-hitting West Tenn at bay over six scoreless innings to lead the Tennessee Smokies to a series-clinching 2-1 win over the Diamond Jaxx Monday night at Smokies Park. The win is big as it puts the Smokies (39-25) 2.5 games ahead of West Tenn (36-27) in the race for the first half Southern League North Division title.
Before Chen could put Monday night’s performance in the win column, he and most of the 3,389 in attendance had to sweat out a tense ninth inning. With the Smokies leading 2-0 heading into the final frame, West Tenn’s Johan Limonta doubled off the left-field wall off Tennessee reliever David Cales. After Scott Savastano singled to put runners on first and third, Carlos Triunfel drove a sacrifice fly to deep center to bring in Limonta and cut Tennessee’s lead to 2-1.
West Tenn’s Jeff Dominguez, who victimized Cales with a solo home run one day earlier, hit a ground ball to 2B Tony Thomas that had all the makings of a double play. SS Marwin Gonzalez’s throw to first was just a split-second late though, keeping West Tenn alive with the tying run on first and two outs.
A grounder by West Tenn’s Kuo Hui Lo hit between first and second that Thomas couldn’t get to in time moved Dominguez to second and put the tying run in scoring position. Cales (S, 6) would rear back though and strike out Brandon Haveman to end the game.
Chen (7-5) continued his impressive 2010 campaign Monday night, allowing only four hits and three walks, while striking out four. The win was his fourth in a row and lowered his ERA to 2.43 on the year.
Tennessee relievers Luke Sommer and Alex Maestri played a key role in the win, holding West Tenn scoreless over 1.2 innings. Maestri needed only five pitches to get all three outs in the seventh, while the two outs Sommer registered brought his scoreless-inning total with the Smokies to eight innings.
Both runs scored by Tennessee came from two of the team’s hottest performers over the past week. Brandon Guyer doubled and then stole third, putting himself in position to score on a Josh Vitters high chopper to give the Smokies the early 1-0 lead. Thomas’s leadoff double in the eighth led to his crossing home on a Steve Clevenger RBI single, providing an insurance run for the Smokies.
After a travel day Tuesday, Tennessee begins a five-game series against the Mobile BayBears Wednesday. They return to Smokies Park on Tuesday, June 22 for five games against the Carolina Mudcats. Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or by calling (865) 286-2300.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the minor league Class AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the 10-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America’s national pastime in the East Tennessee region for almost 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com.