Trash Pandas no-hit in Tennessee
Olthoff strong, but Rocket City offense blanked by Smokies
By Aaron Cheris
KODAK, Tennessee – Four Tennessee Smokies pitchers combined on a no-hitter, shutting down the Rocket City Trash Pandas offense from start to finish for a 2-0 Smokies win in the first game of the second half at Smokies Stadium on Tuesday night.
The loss marks the first time in franchise history that the Trash Pandas have been no-hit, while the no-hitter is the second for Tennessee this season after blanking Montgomery on May 11.
The Smokies opened the scoring in the bottom of the first against Rocket City starter Braden Olthoff (L, 1-3) when Jake Slaughter connected on a solo home run to left for his ninth homer of the season and the first run of the night. The next inning, Alexander Canario reached with a one-out double and Bryce Ball followed with an RBI single to center, plating Canario to double the lead at 2-0.
The early runs were more than enough for the Smokies. Rocket City threatened at times, with Zach Humphreys getting hit by a pitch and stealing second in the second, but he was left there when Jose Gomez flew out.
Jeremiah Jackson reached on an error in the fourth before being quickly thrown out trying to steal second base. An inning later, Gomez crushed Anderson Espinoza’s offering deep to left field. But with an incredible leap at the wall, Tennessee left fielder Bradlee Beesley made the catch to rob Gomez of extra bases and keep the Trash Pandas hitless.
In the seventh, Preston Palmeiro began the frame with a walk against Tennessee reliever Samuel Reyes. He would move no further as Humphreys struck out and Palmeiro was caught stealing for an inning-ending double play.
Bryan King was next into the game for Tennessee in the eighth and got a double play of his own, inducing Kevin Maitan’s ground out to keep the bid alive. Nicholas Padilla finished the no-hitter with a one, two, three ninth inning, striking out Jackson to end the ballgame.
Espinoza (W, 1-4) earned the win for Tennessee by striking out seven over five scoreless innings. Reyes held the lead with two scoreless frames and King did the same in the eighth. Padilla (S, 2) earned the save with the clean ninth. The quartet of Smokies pitchers held the Trash Pandas to three walks, striking out 12 in the no-hitter.
Despite a strong start, Olthoff suffered his third loss of the season, giving up two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts over seven innings in a quality start. Nick Jones kept the deficit at two with a clean bottom of the eighth.
The first-half North Division Champion Trash Pandas (41-29 overall, 0-1 second half) continue their series with the Tennessee Smokies (38-32 overall, 1-0 second half) on Wednesday night. First pitch at Smokies Stadium is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.