Bibens-Dirkx Paces Smokies to 3-0 Win
HOOVER, Ala. - Tennessee starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx turned in one of his finest performances on the mound this season to power the Smokies to a 3-0 victory at Regions Park on Tuesday night.
Bibens-Dirkx pitched seven shut out innings for the Smokies, his longest outing in a Tennessee uniform, and limited the Barons to one hit while he registered four strikeouts. He also retired the final 13 batters he faced in order, a trend going back to his last start against the Biscuits when he retired the final 17 Montgomery batters in consecutive order. Bibens-Dirkx is now 4-1 in 2010, and has picked up his wins in each of his last four starts.
The win evens the series to one game apiece, as the Smokies rebounded following yesterday's 10-1 loss to the Barons. The victory also keeps Tennessee two games ahead of West Tenn in the Southern League North Division standings.
The Smokies took the game's first lead in the top of the third. Marquez Smith hit a two-run homer off Barons starter Justin Edwards to give the Smokies the 2-0 advantage. It was the first home run Edwards has allowed in his Southern League career.
Luke Sommer made his Smokies debut as he took over on the mound for Bibens-Dirkx in the bottom of the eighth. After allowing two singles to begin the inning, with two outs a walk to Dale Mollenhauer loaded the bases. Facing Miguel Negron, Sommer forced Negron to fly out to left field to send the Smokies still ahead by two runs.
Following Sommer's dramatics in the bottom of the eighth, the Smokies produced an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Tony Thomas' groundout brought in the third Smokies run as Steve Clevenger crossed home plate to put the score at 3-0.
Although he let two men on base, David Cales pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to record his first save of the season and preserve the 3-0 Smokies victory.
The clubs will play Wednesday's game at historic Rickwood Field in downtown Birmingham as a part of the 15th annual Rickwood Classic. The Smokies will start right-hander Craig Muschko (2-2, 4.73) against Birmingham's Matt Long (3-4 5.44). The Smokies and Barons will pay tribute to the ballpark's history by wearing throwback uniforms. Tennessee will represent the 1910 Knoxville Appalachians with their uniforms, while the Barons will also suit up in 1910 gear. Fans can listen to the game on the Smokies Radio Network on their daytime affiliate1480 WJFC and smokiesbaseball.com.
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