Miller has career night in win for Mudcats

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Citizen Tribune

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – It was a night where Wade Miller was scheduled to be the main attraction at Smokies Park. However, Jai Miller stole the spotlight from the rehabbing major league pitcher.

Miller belted three homers, including a grand slam, and finished with a career-high seven RBIs as the Carolina Mudcats thumped the Tennessee Smokies 12-5 Wednesday in a game that was suspended from the night before due to rain.

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The start of Wednesday’s game was delayed close to three hours, forcing the Smokies and Mudcats to play a doubleheader.

Miller, a 22-year-old outfielder from Selma, has been a thorn in the side of the Smokies all season long. Miller has connected for six of his 11 round-trippers this season against Tennessee.

“I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable at the plate and getting some good pitches to hit,” Miller said. “When you get good pitches to hit, you want to make sure you do something with them.

“I can’t explain why I’ve hit the homers against them. It’s just one of those things.”

For the other Miller (Wade), it was an outing he won’t remember fondly.

The Chicago Cubs’ hurler, making his second rehab start for the Smokies, allowed seven runs on six hits in three innings of work. Miller (0-1), who pitched in Sevierville May 16, fanned six and walked two on 65 pitches.

Jai Miller’s show-stealing effort began Tuesday night when he smacked a solo homer to left off Tennessee starter Mike Naninni. The Smokies knotted the count at 1-1 in the bottom half of the inning on an Alan Rick’s run-scoring single.

The game resumed in the bottom of the third inning and Tennessee’s Jemel Spearman pushed the home team in front, 2-1, with the first of his two homers in the contest.

Miller answered Spearman’s blast with a two-run bomb of his own, this time off Wade Miller in the fourth. Miller’s round-tripper plated Ryan Bear, who had singled earlier in the inning.

The Mudcats (16-16) erupted for five runs off Miller in the fifth. Catcher Brad Davis had the big hit, a three-run double that Spearman lost in the lights in right.

Jai Miller put an exclamation point on his spectacular night in the seventh by crushing a grand slam to dead-center off reliever Paul Schappert.

“After I walked in the fifth inning, some of the guys were telling me I needed to his another homer,” Miller said. “When I got to the plate in the seventh, I tried to keep it out of my mind.”

Spearman closed out the scoring in the contest in the ninth with a three-run homer off Carolina reliever Scott Tyler.

In addition to Miller’s big night, Davis doubled twice and singled twice while Bear singled three times and scored three runs.

Jimmy Serrano (4-1) pitched 3 2-3 innings, giving up one run on three hits, to earn the mound decision.