Trevor Clifton only gave up two hits in first start at home, but an early three-run home run made all the difference as the Mississippi Braves beat the Tennessee Smokies 10-2 on Friday.
Clifton (1-1, 4.50 ERA), the Maryville native, pitched a solid five innings in which he gave up three earned runs, striking out six, and walking four batters. Each run Clifton has surrendered in 2017 has come via the long ball.
The Cubs' no. 7 organizational prospect started the game smoothly, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches. After giving up a base hit later in the frame, Clifton was able to pick off the base runner to end the inning.
Things took a turn for the worse shortly afterward; Outfielder Trey Martin hit a leadoff home run to deep left field, but appeared to injure his leg running the bases. Martin had to trudge home; Charcer Burks replaced him.
The second inning went worse for Clifton. The pitcher let two runners on via a walk and hit-by-pitch, before surrendering a three-run home run to center field to Connor Lien. Clifton did not allow any hits following the second inning.
Clifton picked up his second base hit of the season in the bottom of the third to much applause. Charcer Burks grounded into a double play shortly thereafter.
The Heritage High School alumnus exited the game after five innings having thrown 50 of his 77 pitches for strikes.
Relievers Daniel Corcino and Jhondaniel Medina gave up a combined seven earned runs and five walks to put the game way out of reach for the Smokies in the later innings.
The Smokies and Braves will play a double-header Saturday starting at 5 p.m. ET.