The following is a release from the Rocket City Trash Pandas:
MADISON, Alabama – In a tightly contested battle, the Rocket City Trash Pandas were defeated 4-2 in 10 innings by the Tennessee Smokies in their final matchup of the 2021 season on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Field.
Despite the loss, Rocket City won the season series over Tennessee 20-13, including 11-4 at Toyota Field. The loss, coupled with Birmingham’s loss and Pensacola’s win over Montgomery, keeps the Trash Pandas a half game out of the final playoff spot in Double-A South.
With two outs and runners on second and third in the 10th, Tennessee catcher Harrison Wenson lifted a two-run single to left against Tennessee reliever Keith Rogalla (L, 2-3), scoring both runners to give the Smokies a 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the inning, closer Scott Kobos retired the Trash Pandas on just five pitches to finish the win and earn his first Smokies save.
The game began better than it ended for Rocket City. In the second, the Trash Pandas opened the scoring when Luis Aviles Jr.’s sacrifice fly plated Carlos Herrera from third against Smokies starter Anderson Espinoza.
Rocket City starter Robinson Pina was sharp early, holding the Smokies scoreless for the first few innings. He got some help from the defense in the third when Michael Cruz made a perfect throw to catch Delvin Zinn trying to steal third base.
But in the fourth, the Smokies got even on a solo homer from Brennen Davis and pulled ahead on an RBI single from Edwin Figuera, ending the start for Pina. In his third Double-A start, Pina allowed two earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Boomer Biegalski worked around two singles to pitch a clean fifth. Zach Linginfelter did the same with two scoreless frames to keep the deficit at 2-1 at the seventh inning stretch.
With two outs in the bottom of the frame, the Trash Pandas tied the score on back-to-back doubles to left from Aviles Jr. and Mitch Nay.
Linginfelter returned for his third inning on the mound in the eighth and struggled, issuing two one-out walks. Nathan Bates was called on and immediately got out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play from Grayson Byrd to keep the game tied.
Bates and Smokies reliever Graham Lawson each pitched a scoreless ninth to send the game to extra innings, where the visitors pulled out the win.
Rocket City was held to seven hits in the loss, with no batter recording more than one hit.
The Trash Pandas (53-49) begin their final road series of the regular season against the Barons (56-52) on Tuesday night in Birmingham. First pitch at Regions Field is set for 7:05 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.