UNION CITY, TN – The Union City Greyhounds have found the ideal weapon to combat the offense of the Farmington Firebirds.
Pitcher Jacob Smothers was dominant in his third consecutive start against Farmington on Thursday, scattering four hits over seven shutout innings as Union City picked up a 2-0 win at Elam Stadium. The loss snaps a nine-game road winning streak for the Firebirds.
Farmington (15-4) wasted quality scoring chances in each of the first two innings. An error and a walk quickly put two men on base to start the game, but neither would advance as the next three batters were easily retired.
Ben Schnurbusch singled and Scott Hubbard was hit by pitch with one out in the second frame, but Smothers answered with one of his six strikeouts on the night, then induced a pop fly to avoid danger.
Union City (13-8) took the lead in the bottom of the second without hitting a ball past the infield. Eli Dew reached base on a throwing error and Alex Fennell placed a bunt single along the wet grass to help load the bases. Firebirds starter Justin Green came back to strike out the next batter and also induced a force out at home, but issued a bases-loaded walk to Smothers.
Green allowed just one earned run on three hits while striking out five over six innings, but four walks would prove costly in the loss. Green finished his evening in strong fashion by retiring the final eight batters to oppose him.
Chris Newsom led off the third inning and Wes Melton opened the fourth with singles for the Greyhounds, but both were thrown out at second base by catcher Lucas Hulsey. Unfortunately for the Firebirds, Fennell scored on a passed ball later in the fourth to make it 2-0 after reaching base via a walk.
Melton and Fennell each finished 2-for-3 with a walk to pace the Greyhounds at the plate.
Kenny Pikula singled to left in the Firebirds’ sixth and attempted to score from first base on a double to the left-field wall by Schnurbusch, but strong throws by Zane Gresbak and Melton arrived in time to nail Pikula at the plate out for the final out of the frame. The play proved more painful for the Firebirds when Hubbard led off the seventh inning with a sharp single to right.
Farmington had no success against the Union City bullpen as Marty Beno tossed a perfect eighth inning before Raymond Rivera worked around a single in the ninth to earn the save.
Schnurbusch highlighted an otherwise sluggish effort for Farmington by going 3-for-4, and Blake Jones completed two scoreless innings of relief pitching with three hits allowed.
Union City pulled to within three games of the league-leading Firebirds with the victory. The two clubs have four games remaining in their current five-game series, which continues tonight in Union City and includes a split double-header on Saturday.
Farmington 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
Union City 010 100 00x – 2 6 1
WP – Smothers 7i 0r 4h 6k 2bb 2hb.
LP – Green 6i 2r 1er 3h 5k 4bb.
SV – Rivera 1i 0r 1h 1k 0bb.
Farmington – Schnurbusch 3, Pikula, Hubbard. 2b – Schnurbusch.
Union City – Melton 2, Fennell 2, Chalmers, Newsom.