By Steve Kolbe
The Mobile BayBears edged the Jacksonville Suns 2-1 on Monday afternoon to increase their lead in the Southern League South Division to two games.
Starting pitching has been the story of the series so far for Mobile. The Suns managed just one hit against Sunday’s starter Trevor Bauer, and on Monday Tyler Skaggs allowed only five. In 14 innings the two BayBears starters have not allowed an earned run to the Suns.
Mobile took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Monday against Jacksonville starter Bryan Evans. With two outs, Tyler Skaggs doubled to left and Archie Gilbert drove him in with a double of his own. Skaggs is one of the better hitting pitchers in the league and is now 4-for-8 at the plate this season. The BayBears are 17-5 when scoring the game’s first run, while the Suns are 3-14 while they allow the first run.
The Suns scored their only run of the game in the fifth inning against Skaggs. Curt Smith led off the inning when he reached on an error by third baseman Matt Davidson. After a double by Ryan Patterson gave the Suns runners on second and third with no one out, Skaggs settled down to get Taylor Krick and Chris Gutierrez on ground outs with the runners stuck in scoring position. Pinch hitter Donnie Webb struck out which should have ended the inning, but Mobile catcher Rossmel Perez couldn’t hang on to the ball. Instead of throwing the ball to first to record the final out of the inning, Perez threw to third with Smith coming in to score on the strikeout to tie the game 1-1. The BayBears committed two errors in the inning, increasing their league leading total to 43. Last season Mobile committed only 98 errors, fewest in the Southern League.
In the eighth, Archie Gilbert walked to lead off the inning and later scored on Brent Clevlen’s sacrifice fly to give the BayBears a 2-1 lead and that was the game winning run.
Ryan Patterson finished the game 2-for-4 and his double in the fifth inning was the only extra base hit for the Suns on the day. Jake Smolinski, Paul Gran, Chris Gutierrez, and Kyle Skipworth each had a single in the game. Jacksonville has a total of nine hits in the first two games of the series.
For the BayBears, Archie Gilbert finished 2-for-3 and walked twice. He drove in a run and scored the game-winning run. Four of the BayBears seven hits in the game were doubles. The two teams combined to go 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and stranded 15 runners on base Monday afternoon.
Tyler Skaggs threw 94 pitches to earn his first win of the season striking out seven and walking just one. He pitched seven innings and scattered five hits and did not allow an earned run. Evan Marshall pitched the ninth for his fifth save of the season. Suns starter Bryan Evans pitched five innings, allowing one run on four hits and didn’t figure in the decision. Josh Schmidt (1-1) pitched the eighth and ninth innings, allowing two hits and one run and lost for the first time this season.
The BayBears have won eight of their last 11 games while the Suns have dropped four of their last five. Game three of the series is Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM. Zach Neal (2-3, 3.41) takes the mound for the Suns. He allowed five runs on seven hits in his last start. Derek Eitel (2-2, 3.86) will start for the BayBears.