Shawn Bowman drove in the game tying run in the eighth inning against the Blue Wahoos with a pinch hit double in the Suns 4-3 win at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns spotted the Pensacola Blue Wahoos a 3-0 lead on Sunday afternoon, but rallied for a 4-3 win at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The last three games in the series have all been decided by one run.
Matthew Neil had impressive numbers in his eight starts with Jupiter, going 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA. On Sunday, the Suns sent the 25-year-old right-hander to the mound looking to even the series against the Wahoos at two wins apiece. Neil responded by retiring the first three batters he faced in his double-A debut.
In the top of the second, Josh Fellhauer singled to lead off the inning against Neil, and Joel Guzman drove him in with a double into the gap in right-center field to put the Blue Wahoos in front 1-0. Guzman is 7-for-17 in the series, including three doubles and a three-run home run. He has hit safely in all four games.
The Wahoos increased the lead in the fifth inning, when Mark Fleury singled with one out and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pensacola pitcher Daniel Corcino. Moving the runner into scoring position paid off, when Ryan LaMarre drove in Fleury with a single to right field for a 2-0 Wahoos lead.
In the sixth, the Blue Wahoos added a run against Suns reliever Bobby Bramhall. Brodie Greene and Josh Fellhauer both singled, and after a force out put runners on first and third, the rarely used suicide squeeze came into play. Stephen Hunt bunted back to the pitcher Bramhall, with Greene breaking from third base on the pitch, and scoring the Blue Wahoos third run of the day.
Pensacola starter Daniel Corcino was cruising along into the sixth inning. He allowed just two singles, and at one point retired 11 straight Suns batters, seven by strikeout. In the sixth, Suns shortstop Danny Black singled to lead off the inning and Donnie Webb followed by hitting a two-run home run into the right field stands to cut the Blue Wahoos lead to 3-2. It was Webb’s first home run of the season, and the Suns have now hit the long ball in six of their last eight games.
The Suns pulled even in the bottom of the seventh against relief pitcher Drew Hayes. Curt Smith hit his ninth double of the season, and pinch-hitter Shawn Bowman doubled to drive home Smith with the tying run and the Blue Wahoos 3-0 lead had vanished.
Late inning heroics have been the norm for the Suns this week with two ninth inning wins, and Sunday afternoon was no exception when it came to late inning thrills.
In the bottom of the eight, Kyle Skipworth snapped an 0-for-21 stretch with a one out single off of Clayton Tanner. After Tanner struck out Russell Mitchell, the stage was set for Kyle Jensen. Celebrating his 24th birthday, Jensen completed the comeback by gift wrapping the go-ahead run with a double off the left field wall, with Skipworth hustling all the way from first to score putting the Suns in front 4-3.
Pensacola threatened in the top of the ninth against Evan Reed, when David Vidal and Mark Fleury hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with one out. The Blue Wahoos turned to Yordanys Perez, who entered the game as a pinch hitter. He hit the ball sharply to Suns shortstop Danny Black, who handled it cleanly and started the game-ending double play. Not to be overlooked was the effort by second baseman Paul Gran, who absorbed a hard slide by Vidal and still made the throw to first to finish the play.
It was memorable double-A debut for infielder Danny Black. He finished 3-for-4 with three singles and scored a run. Curt Smith went 2-for-4 for his third multi-hit game of the season. Brodie Greene, Mark Fleury, and Josh Fellhauer each finished the day 2-for-4 for the Blue Wahoos.
Matthew Neil’s double-A debut has to be considered a success. He allowed two runs on five hits over five innings against a Blue Wahoos team that ranks second in the Southern League in batting with a .260 average. Neil is now 11-3 in his 24 minor league starts. Evan Reed pitched the final two innings to improve to 3-1, and now has earned both wins for the Suns in this series.
Coming off his worst outing of the season after he allowed six runs over five innings, Daniel Corcino found his touch against the Suns tossing six innings allowing just two runs on four hits. He struck out a season-high nine batters, fanning at least one in every inning except the sixth. Corcino, who has the best fastball in the Reds system, threw 105 pitches on the afternoon. He’s given up more than three earned runs in a game only once in his nine starts this season. Clayton Tanner pitched one and a-third innings and gave up the winning run to fall to 0-3 on the season.
The series finale is 11:05a.m. Monday morning at the Baseball Grounds. In a match up of right handers, the Suns will send Omar Poveda (3-1, 5.05) to the mound for his sixth start of the season. The Blue Wahoos counter with Tim Crabbe (1-2, 4.24).