Patriot Series Game 1

Knoxville SmokiesMilwaukee Bear ClawsKNOXVILLE SMOKIES 6, MILWAUKEE BEAR CLAWS 3

Prior to the beginning of the inaugural Patriot Series, Milwaukee Bear Claws manager Poss Horton expressed cautious optimism about his team’s chances.  “Obviously, Knoxville’s a good team,” said Horton.  “But we’ve shown all year that we’re pretty darn good too, and resilient.  I expect it’ll be a hard-fought series, but I like our chances.”

His opposing counterpart, Knoxville Smokies skipper Snuff Wallace, had a blunter assessment, as is his wont.  “We’re gonna sweep,” said Wallace.  “The Bear Claws have been on cruise control since the All-Star Break.  They’re overrated, and I think the time is ripe for us to show the world who the real kings are.”

It remains to be seen whose forecast is closer to the mark, but round one went to Wallace and the Smokies.  On a chilly night at High Life Field in Milwaukee, the Smokies got a strong performance from ace Elicio Santana and posted a 6-3 triumph.

“See, what’d I tell y’all?” said Wallace.  “Everybody’s been rushing to crown those guys, but they ain’t nothing special.  We got the total package: pitching, hitting, running.  They’ll be lucky to get a game off us!”

The Smokies set the tone for the game in the 1st inning.  CF Joe Blair singled on the first pitch he saw, and 2B Jeremiah Campo bunted him over to second.  DH Malcolm Bryant then smoked a 2-0 pitch to the gap in left-center, scoring Blair and giving Knoxville a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.  Even though Bryant tried to stretch his hit into a triple and was gunned down at third, costing the Smokies a potential big inning, Wallace praised his team’s aggressiveness.

“How you like that!” the Knoxville manager exclaimed.  “We walked right in there and grabbed a lead real quick.  That’s ballin’ with swagger!”

Smokies 1B Eddie Battin doubled his team’s lead with a solo homer to lead off the 2nd.

Meanwhile, Santana got off to a flying start for Knoxville, setting the Bear Claws down in order in the first three innings.  Milwaukee finally got on the board in the 4th.  SS Red Petitt walked on four pitches.  2B Richard Iddings battled Santana to a full count, then hit a swinging bunt down the third-base line that died in fair territory for an infield single.  1B Felipe Mateo grounded out to the right side, moving both runners up.  3B Ikaru Suzuki then brought Petitt home on a grounder to short.

Milwaukee had a chance for more after Santana walked LF Arthur Mealey and drilled DH Rodolfo Raine.  But Santana used his big sweeping curveball to strike out RF Wally Trumbauer, ending the threat.

“That was my tough inning,” said Santana.  “After that, I was rolling like a mountain stream.”

Santana (1-0) wound up going 7 innings, his only other blemish a solo homer by Mealey to lead off the 7th.  “I bet [the Bear Claws] are losing sleep thinkin’ about having to face him again,” said Wallace of his ace.

Despite Santana’s brilliant performance, though, the Smokies were far from assured of a victory.  Milwaukee ace Lou Mallory (0-1) had an uneven outing, but Knoxville often struggled to take advantage.  Blair singled in a run in the 5th to make it 3-1.  But when Bear Claws CF DeRonde Maxwell’s error gave the Smokies two runners in scoring position with one out in the 7th, they couldn’t cash in.  LF Track Johnson tried to sprint home on a Campo grounder, only to see himself thrown out by 10 feet on a perfect peg by Mateo.  Bryant then flied out to center to end the threat.

“I don’t give a damn,” said Wallace.  “I want us making hustle mistakes, aggressive mistakes.  Better that than wussing out.  Besides, we won.”

After Mealey’s 7th-innning blast got the Bear Claws back within one, the Smokies responded with a tally in the top of the 8th on a Ronnie Aceuedo sac fly.  Wallace then summoned rubber-armed reliever Rick Wilkins, who got two out sandwiched between a single and a walk.  Wallace went to his closer, Charlie Pasternak, who allowed an RBI single to Suzuki but retired Mealey on a fielder’s choice to end the inning with the lead intact.

The Smokies finally put it away in the 9th.  A clearly exhausted Mallory remained in the game; Horton finally pulled him after the Smokies stroked back-to-back singles to start the inning.  After the game, the Bear Claws skipper took the blame for leaving Mallory in too long.  Five of the 13 hits the starter surrendered came in the final two innings.

“I know I should have gone to the pen sooner,” said Horton.  “Lou didn’t lose this one, I did.  But it’s a long series, and I don’t want to burn up my relievers this early.”

Righty Timmy Almon got the Bear Claws out of the 9th, but not before allowing both inherited runners to score on a groundout and a wild pitch.

“I wasn’t on my A game today,” admitted Almon.  “This isn’t the time of year for that.  I’m going to have to tighten it up.”

In the bottom of the 9th, Pasternak pitched around a leadoff walk to secure the save.  He finished with a flourish, ending the game on back-to-back strikeouts.

“That’s just the first shot across the bow,” said Wallace.  “Expect us to bring the real fireworks tomorrow.”

With the win, the Smokies take a 1-0 lead in the series.  Tomorrow’s game at High Life Field will pit Knoxville right-hander Jack Jacques against Milwaukee southpaw Benicio Torrenueva.

 

9/22/2015, KNX15-MIL15, High Life Stadium
 
                       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     R  H  E   LOB DP
2015 Smokies           1  1  0  0  1  0  0  1  2     6 13  0     8  0
2015 Bear Claws        0  0  0  1  0  0  1  1  0     3  5  1     6  0
 
Smokies              AB  R  H BI   AVG    Bear Claws           AB  R  H BI   AVG
Blair             cf  5  2  3  1  .600    Petitt            ss  3  2  0  0  .000
Campo             2b  4  1  1  0  .250    Iddings           2b  4  0  1  0  .250
Bryant            dh  5  0  1  2  .200    Mateo             1b  3  0  1  0  .333
Campo             rf  5  1  3  0  .600    Suzuki            3b  4  0  1  2  .250
Moriarty          ss  4  0  0  0  .000    Mealey            lf  3  1  1  1  .333
Battin            1b  4  1  2  1  .500    Raine             dh  2  0  0  0  .000
Aceuedo           3b  3  0  0  1  .000    Trumbauer         rf  4  0  0  0  .000
Carlo             c   4  1  2  0  .500    McGuigan          c   4  0  0  0  .000
Johnson           lf  4  0  1  0  .250    Maxwell           cf  4  0  1  0  .250
                     38  6 13  5                               31  3  5  3
 
Smokies                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
Santana          W 1-0           7.0  3  2  2  2  5  85  49  2.57
Wilkins          H 1             0.2  1  1  1  1  0  15   7 13.50
Pasternak        S 1             1.1  1  0  0  1  2  20  13  0.00
                                 9.0  5  3  3  4  7 120  69 
 
Bear Claws                       INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
Mallory          L 0-1           8.0 13  6  6  1  6 123  79  6.75
Almon                            1.0  0  0  0  0  0   7   6  0.00
                                 9.0 13  6  6  1  6 130  85 
 
E-Maxwell. 2B-Bryant(1), Campo 2(2), Carlo(1). HR-Battin(1), Mealey(1). 
RBI-Blair(1), Bryant 2(2), Battin(1), Aceuedo(1), Suzuki 2(2), Mealey(1). 
CS-Mateo. K-Blair, Bryant, Moriarty, Battin, Carlo, Johnson, Petitt, Raine, 
Trumbauer 2, McGuigan 2, Maxwell. BB-Moriarty, Petitt, Mateo, Mealey, Raine. 
SH-Campo. SF-Aceuedo. HBP-Raine. HB-Santana. WP-Almon. 
GWRBI: Bryant
Temperature: 48, Sky: partly cloudy, Wind: right to left at 8 MPH.

 

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