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Trash Pandas edge Shuckers 4-3 in series opener

The Rocket City Trash Pandas got just enough offense to back an overall sharp night on the mound for a 4-3 victory over Biloxi

The Rocket City Trash Pandas got just enough offense to back an overall sharp night on the mound for a 4-3 victory over the Biloxi Shuckers in first of a six-game series at MGM Park on Tuesday night.   

The Shuckers were first on the board in the bottom of the opening inning as David Fry led off with a double off Rocket City starter Ryan Smith, reached third on an error, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Chad Spanberger.   

Two innings later, the Trash Pandas got even when Orlando Martinez reached with a one-out single to left, stole second, and came home on an RBI single from David MacKinnon against Biloxi starter Noah Zavolas (L, 4-7). With two on and one out in the bottom of the frame, Smith kept it tied by inducing a fly out from Tristen Lutz and striking out Spanberger to end the inning.   

In the fifth, the Trash Pandas jumped in front for the first time. Izzy Wilson led off with a single and Mitch Nay doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Ray-Patrick Didder and Anthony Mulrine each followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Trash Pandas a 3-1 lead halfway through the game. They wouldn’t relinquish the lead from there.   

In the bottom of the fifth, the Shuckers threatened to tie the game by putting runners on second and third with one out. But Smith got through the inning unscathed by striking out Korry Howell and getting Garrett Mitchell to fly out.   

Biloxi got a run back in the sixth to make it a one-run game. However, Smith ended his night by getting a ground out from Brent Diaz to leave the tying and go-ahead runs on base.   

Smith (W, 1-2) scattered nine hits over 6.0 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, with one walk and seven strikeouts in a quality start.   

Boomer Biegalski was first out of the visitors’ bullpen and pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his first appearance since being activated off the injured list earlier in the day.   

The Trash Pandas recorded a key insurance run in the eighth as former Shucker Luis Aviles Jr. doubled in the eighth and came home a single from Martinez to make it a two-run game. Rocket City reliever Luke Leftwich retired the Shuckers in order in the bottom of the frame to maintain the two-run edge.  

David Hamilton made it a 4-3 game in the ninth with an RBI single to center off Kolton Ingram (S, 1). Trying to steal second as the tying run, Hamilton was picked off by Ingram for a crucial second out before Ingram induced a ground out from Howell to finish the victory.   

On the mound, Smith earned his first Double-A win for his strong outing. Biegalski and Leftwich each got a hold and Ingram picked up his first Double-A save by working around the run in the ninth. At the plate, Martinez, Wilson, and Nay each recorded two hits in the win.  

The win, coupled with Birmingham's win over Montgomery, keeps the Trash Pandas 2.5 games behind the Barons for the final playoff spot in Double-A South.  

The Trash Pandas (49-46) continue their series with the Shuckers (35-62) on Wednesday night. First pitch at MGM Park is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.


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