In what was a back-and-forth game throughout Tuesday evening between the Rocket City Trash Pandas and the Tennessee Smokies, the Trash Pandas held on for an 8-7 victory in their series opener at Smokies Stadium.
The Smokies got on the board first with third baseman Levi Jordan lining an RBI double down the left field line off of Trash Pandas starter Kyle Tyler to score Darius Hill and take a 1-0 lead.
Rocket City quickly tied things up at 1-1 in the top half of the second with a solo shot to left center by Matt Jones, his fourth home run of the season.
The Trash Pandas took their first lead in the top of the third. Dalton Pompey led off the inning with a walk followed by an Orlando Martinez single to put runners at first and third. David MacKinnon hit a sacrifice fly to score Pompey, and Ray-Patrick Didder hit an RBI single to bring Martinez around to score later in the inning, giving Rocket City a 3-1 lead.
That lead increased to 5-1 in the fourth for the Trash Pandas. Gavin Cecchini hit a solo home run over the left field wall to make it 4-1. In the very next at-bat, Pompey tripled off the center field wall, eventually coming around to score on an RBI double by MacKinnon.
The Smokies added two of their own in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead in half. That would be all for Tyler on the mound for the Trash Pandas. He pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, two earned, with four walks and one strikeout.
Tyler Danish, who came in relief of Tyler, had a perfect outing in his 3 1/3 innings of work, retiring all 10 batters he faced including three strikeouts.
Pompey blasted a two-run home run over the left field wall in the top of the eighth, his second of the season, to give the Trash Pandas a 7-3 lead.
Tennessee got a pair of runs back to make it 7-5 in the bottom half of the inning on a Tyler Payne two-run blast off of Trash Pandas reliever Oliver Ortega.
Izzy Wilson plated one more run in the top of the ninth for the Trash Pandas, hitting an RBI double off the left field wall to score Didder and give Rocket City a crucial eighth run of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Smokies added two runs on a two-run blast from Hill. Trash Pandas closer Keith Rogalla, despite having the tying run on base, was able to close things out for Rocket City, taking Game 1 of the six-game series.
Pompey went 2-for-3 with a triple, home run, two RBIs, two walks and three runs scored for the Trash Pandas. Cecchini went 3-for-6 with a home run and two runs scored. Martinez went 3-for-5, and Wilson had two hits. In total, the Trash Pandas came away with a 14-hit offensive showcase.
Danish got the win for Rocket City in his perfect relief appearance.