Trash Pandas prevail 2-1 in pitcher’s duel
Erla goes six strong and a wild pitch was the difference in Tennessee
KODAK, Tennessee – The Rocket City Trash Pandas defeated the Tennessee Smokies 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel at Smokies Stadium on Wednesday night, where a late wild pitch brought in the go-ahead run to give Rocket City a lead that the bullpen was able to hold to even the six-game series at one game apiece.
Both teams got on the board early, scoring in the first inning. For the Trash Pandas, Jose Gomez knocked in Braxton Martinez while Chase Strumpf slapped an RBI single down the left field line for the Smokies to tie the game. This would be all the scoring until the seventh inning.
Rocket City starter Mason Erla (W, 2-0) hurled six innings of one-run ball while also striking out six. This was his longest outing of the season for his first quality start of the season. Erla did a nice job in the bottom of the sixth, working around runners on first and third with nobody out. Third baseman Kevin Maitan made a fantastic play from the hot corner and Erla would punch out the next two batters to end his day with five straight scoreless frames.
In the top of the seventh, Rocket City had runners on first and second again. With Jeremiah Jackson at the plate, Tennessee reliver Jeremiah Estrada threw a wild pitch that got away from catcher Bryce Windham. With Windham unable to find the loose ball, Anthony Mulrine scored from all the way from second.
The Trash Pandas turned to their bullpen in the seventh inning. First out was Kolton Ingram who worked around runners on first and second. Luke Murphy came into the game in the eighth inning but was removed after walking Strumpf and giving up a single to Bradlee Beesley.
Eric Torres (S, 8) came into the game and got the final out of the inning, but not without some help of his defense. Bryce Ball hit a sharp grounder to third base and Maitan made a diving effort on the play. The ball kicked under his glove and trickled into short left where Jeremiah Jackson scooped it up and threw a strike to get Strumpf out at home trying to score the tying run.
Torres closed out the ninth but not without some drama first. He would walk Cole Roederer before striking out Windham, gave up a single to Yonathan Perlaza, and hit Jake Slaughter. With the bases loaded and one out, Torres struck out Matt Mervis and got Strumpf to ground out to end the game, finishing a thrilling one-run win.
Maitan led the way for the Trash Pandas at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double. Making his first start of the season, Trash Pandas designated hitter Gustavo Campero went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
The first-half North Division Champion Trash Pandas (42-29 overall, 1-1 second half) continue their series with the Tennessee Smokies (38-33 overall, 1-1 second half) on Thursday 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.