Pitching, power lead Trash Pandas to 7-1 win
MADISON – With a dominant performance on the mound and a powerful showing at the plate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas defeated the Tennessee Smokies 7-1 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 6,798 to earn their third straight win on Friday night at Toyota Field.
Rocket City starter Jake Lee was dealing from his first pitch. He retired the Smokies in order with a fly out and a pair of strikeouts in the top of the first. Two innings later, he picked Darius Hill off first base to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the third, the Trash Pandas recorded their first hit on a line drive single to right from Jose Guzman. Torii Hunter Jr. then launched a fly ball the other way and over the right field fence for a two-run home run, his first with Rocket City. Orlando Martinez followed Hunter’s blast with a line drive of his own just over the wall in right for the first back-to-back home runs in Rocket City history and a 3-0 lead after three innings.
An RBI ground out from Matt Jones in the fourth extended the score to 4-0, and that would be more than enough for the Rocket City pitching staff.
Pitching with the lead for the first time, Lee recorded a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless fourth and worked around a leadoff double in the fifth to keep Tennessee off the board and end his outing.
Over 5.0 brilliant innings, Lee (W, 1-1) gave up just three hits and walked none while striking out eight to earn the victory, the second straight for a Trash Pandas starter.
Mitch Nay put the game out of reach in the seventh with a long three-run home run to right, his second in as many games and third of the season, to make it 7-1 Trash Pandas.
Making his Double-A debut, Rocket City reliever Kyle Molnar (S, 1) entered in the sixth inning and finished off the win with 4.0 brilliant innings, giving up just one run on two hits with one walk and six strikeouts to earn the save.
At the plate, Martinez went 3-for-4 with his team-leading fourth home run and 10th RBI while Hunter Jr.’s home run was his first at the Double-A level.
The Trash Pandas (5-5) will go for a series win over the Smokies (4-5) on Saturday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.