Tennessee heads home still needing three wins to claim a Southern League Championship. They lost on Thursday night in a very close game, 1-0 in 11 innings.
With the exception of one inning, Tennessee proved to be Mobile’s equal in the first two games despite being on the road. Coming home to Tennessee, there is still reason to think the Smokies can pull this off. It will be challenging, but the Smokies are good enough to win three straight. They have done several times this season.
Friday is an off day for the Cubs Double A club, and they need it to rest their bullpen after an 11 inning affair, but action will resume in Tennessee on Saturday.
As you would expect in any 1-0 game, pitching was the story. Left-handed starter Brooks Raley pitched six stellar innings, giving up just one hit. The bullpen followed suit through the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth, and then closer Rafael Dolis ran out of gas in the eleventh. Mobile scratched out a single run, and that was the ballgame.
The Tennessee offense collected six hits, but they were scattered. Once again, Mobile kept the Smokies from putting together that one big inning that has been so kind to Tennessee in these playoffs.
With their championship hopes on the line, the Smokies turn to right hander Ryan Searle. Searle had a great season for Daytona and Tennessee but struggled in his first playoff appearance. If he can return to the .240 BAA, 1.80 GO/AO pitcher he was during the season, the Smokies are in good hands.