Yeiper Castillo struck out seven batters in six innings in his Double-A debut, but the Tennessee Smokies failed to overcome a pair of late home runs as they fell to the Huntsville Stars, 6-2, Friday night at Smokies Park. With the loss, in front of 6,080, the Smokies drop to 24-22 and 4.5 games behind the first place Birmingham Barons.
The Stars (21-26) got on the board first when Rene Tosoni hit a home run to lead off the second inning off Castillo. The Smokies answered right back, when Rubi Silva hit a two-out home run off Huntsville starter Ariel Pena to knot the game at one. It was Silva's eighth home run of the season.
Following the home run, Castillo allowed only one runner to reach in his next five innings of work. The right-hander finished the night allowing just the lone run on three hits, no walks and striking out seven in his six innings of work.
Castillo gave way to reliever Trey McNutt, who walked Kentrail Davis and three batters later, Brock Kjeldgaard hit a home run to give Huntsville a 3-1 lead.
Huntsville would score an unearned run in the seventh off Kevin Rhoderick and then in the ninth, Kjeldgaard hit his second home run of the night, another two-run shot, to give the Stars a 6-1 advantage.
The Smokies attempted to rally in the ninth. With two outs and Rubi Silva on second, Tim Torres singled to score Silva. Anthony Giansanti hit a pinch-hit single to bring the tying run on deck. However, Matt Szczur flew out to right field to end the Smokies' rally and give the Stars the win.
The Smokies and Stars will play Game Three of their five-game set on Saturday at 6:15 at Smokies Park. Righty Alberto Carbera (4-1, 3.69) will start for the Smokies and the Stars will send right-hander Taylor Jungmann (3-5, 5.09). The first 1,500 fans into Smokies Park will receive a FREE Carlos Gonzalez Gold Glove Bobblehead, courtesy U.S. Cellular and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. Fur Circus will also be making their first appearance at Smokies Park. The Smokies will also be holding a silent auction during the game to help outfielder Ty Wright raise money for Oklahoma tornado victims. For tickets and more information, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call (865) 286-2300.