Huntsville, Ala. - To snap a four-game losing streak, the Huntsville Stars came back from a four-run deficit starting in the eighth inning to beat the Tennessee Smokies in dramatic walkoff fashion by a score of 8-7 on Monday night at Joe Davis Stadium.
In regards to scoring, the game starting off slowly as Stars starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 BB) and Smokies starting pitcher Dallas Beeler (6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 3 BB) were dealing early.
After an RBI double by Smokies LF Jae-Hoon Ha made the score 1-0, the Stars provided the equalizer in the bottom of the second inning. Right fielder Brock Kjeldgaard led off the frame with his second triple of the year off the center field wall. One batter later, third basemen Mike Walker drove Kjeldgaard home with a sacrifice fly to tie up the ballgame at 1-1.
The score stayed that way until the top of the fifth inning, where the Smokies seemingly took control of the ballgame. Center fielder Rubi Silva doubled to off of Nelson to start the inning, and went on to score after two consecutive errors by the Stars defense gave the Smokies back the lead.
Then, in the top of the sixth inning, Silva struck again. Following singles from Ha and first basemen Justin Bour, the 23-year-old golfed a three-run homer just over the right field wall off of Stars reliever Brian Garman to give Tennessee a commanding 5-1 lead.
To limit the damage, the Stars cut their deficit in half with two runs in the bottom half of that frame. After a leadoff double by second basemen Nick Shaw a walk from shortstop Hector Gomez, a RBI single from right fielder Kentrail Davis and run-scoring groundout from first basemen Jason Rogers made the score 5-3.
Unfortunately for Huntsville, the Smokies regained their four-run lead in the top half of the seventh inning, scoring two runs off of Stars reliever Thomas Keeling to bring the score to 7-3.
Down to their final six outs and trailing by four, the Stars began their comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Just like the sixth inning, a leadoff double by Shaw sparked some life into the Stars dugout. Shaw advanced to second on a groundout by Gomez and then to third on a single by Davis to bring runners at the corners with just one out. Following a RBI single by Rogers (advanced to second on the throw) that scored Shaw, a two-run single from Walker off of Smokies reliever Trey McNutt (L, 0-1) brought home Davis and Rogers to make it a one-run game. Later in the inning, center fielder Rene Tosoni drove in Walker with a double to tie up the game.
With the score tied 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth, the top of the order made sure that the Stars comeback would be completed. To begin the inning, Shaw drew a walk against McNutt to begin the inning. Shaw then advanced without an out being record as a sacrifice bunt from Gomez went to perfection when Smokies catcher Rafael Lopez unsuccessfully tried to force out Shaw at second. After Shaw moved to third on a deep flyout by Davis, it set the stage for Rogers to be the hero.
The former Brewers organizational all-star in 2012 did not disappoint. With a full count, his fly ball to deep center field ultimately plated Shaw ahead of a strong throw by Tennessee center fielder Matt Szczur to complete the comeback in walkoff fashion.
For the Stars, the win was their first since their home opener on April 10th.
On offense, the Stars were paced with two hits apiece from Shaw, Davis and Rogers. Walker and Rogers each also drove in three runs.
In regards to pitching, reliever Casey Medlen (W, 1-0) earned the victory for Huntsville with a scoreless ninth inning.
The Stars and Smokies will play game two of a five-game series at Joe Davis Stadium on Tuesday night. Huntsville will send RHP Ariel Pena (0-1, 7.11 ERA) to square off against Tennessee RHP Alberto Cabrera. First pitch is at 6:43 PM.
Courtesy Huntsville Stars Media Relations