Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
Double-A Affiliate
The Official Site of the Rocket City Trash Pandas Rocket City Trash Pandas

Trash Pandas Drop Slugfest In Tennessee 8-5

DiChiara, Vera homer in road loss
Arol Vera hit his second Double-A home run in Friday's loss. (Cristina Byrne-Sternberg/Rocket City Trash Pandas)
September 15, 2023

In a close game that featured five total home runs, the Rocket City Trash Pandas couldn’t keep the Tennessee Smokies at bay, suffering an 8-5 loss in the fourth game of their six-game series on Friday night at Smokies Stadium. For the first time all week, the Trash Pandas were

In a close game that featured five total home runs, the Rocket City Trash Pandas couldn’t keep the Tennessee Smokies at bay, suffering an 8-5 loss in the fourth game of their six-game series on Friday night at Smokies Stadium.

For the first time all week, the Trash Pandas were the ones to open the scoring. Sonny DiChiara got it started with an opposite field solo home run to right-center, his eighth of the season to put Rocket City in front. Arol Vera followed with a double and came home to score on Bryce Teodosio’s RBI single, giving the Trash Pandas a 2-0 lead in the second against Smokies starter Walker Powell.

Tennessee stormed back in the third off Rocket City starter Michael Darrell-Hicks. BJ Murray got the Smokies on the board with an RBI double. Owen Caissie followed with a two-run homer to center, his 22nd of the season to put the Smokies up 3-2. Tennessee added two more to make it 5-2, knocking Darrell-Hicks (L, 0-3) out of the game with two outs in the third. In his third Double-A start, the Rocket City righty went 2.2 innings, allowing five runs on five hits with two walks and one strikeout to take the loss. Ivan Armstrong limited the damage with 1.1 scoreless innings as the first man out of the Rocket City bullpen.

In the fourth, DiChiara reached on an error with one out. Vera then made it a one-run game with a long two-run homer to right, his second Double-A homer. Casey Opitz responded with a solo homer of his own off Jack Dashwood in the bottom of the fifth, putting the Smokies up 6-4.

Again, the Trash Pandas responded. DiChiara began the inning with a single. Vera reached on an error, and a fielder’s choice put runners on first and third with one out. After entering the game as a defensive replacement, Gustavo Campero then nearly turned the game around with a deep fly ball to left. But it was caught on the warning track for a sacrifice fly, plating DiChiara to make it 6-5. The RBI was Campero’s first at the Double-A level.

Kevin Alcantara homered off Dashwood to make it a two-run game in the seventh and a double play gave the Smokies another insurance run off Luke Murphy in the bottom of the eighth for an 8-5 lead.

Hunter Bigge (S, 2) returned to the mound and retired the Trash Pandas in order to finish the win and earn the save. Manuel Espinoza (W, 2-3) earned the win out of the Tennessee bullpen, allowing a run on one hit with two walks and one strikeout over 3.1 innings.

DiChiara led the way for the Rocket City attack, going 2-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored, and an RBI. Vera went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI while Campero went 0-for-2 with an RBI in his first Double-A game of the season.

The Trash Pandas (58-78, 27-40 second half) continue the series against the Smokies (73-62, 37-30 second half) on Saturday night. First pitch at Smokies Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.