The knockout punch came in the first inning.

The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx tagged Luis Montano for six runs in the opening frame, giving them all they needed in a 7-4 win over the visiting Carolina Mudcats in the opener of their five-game series at Pringles Park on Thursday night.

The big blow in the first was from N.C. State alumnus Matt Mangini, who doubled the home team’s early lead with a three-run homer.

Montano (0-2) got a chance to continue and did well from then on, hurling four scoreless innings.

Danny Christensen (1-6), who had last won a game 349 days earlier in the Eastern League, pitched five scoreless innings for West Tenn before the Mudcats’ offense got going. The Mudcats scored three runs, those coming on a Todd Frazier double and a two-run homer from Shaun Cumberland.

Carolina added its last run in the seventh on Juan Francisco’s third hit of the game.

The Mudcats are now eight games behind first-place Chattanooga with 29 left in the second half.

Game 2 is tonight at 8:05 EDT, with Zach Ward (0-1, 18.00) starting for Carolina against Luis Muñoz (4-6, 4.48).