Monthly Archives: July 2012

Suns And BayBears Postponed

 

Severe weather with heavy rain caused unplayable conditions at Hank Aaron Stadium, forcing the game between the Suns and BayBears to be postponed. Photo Courtesy: Mobile BayBears

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns scheduled game against the Mobile BayBears was postponed due to unsafe playing conditions at Hank Aaron Stadium.  The game has been rescheduled as part of a double header, with the first game of the seven inning twin bill slated to begin Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. EST.  The second game will start approximately thirty minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
 
Severe weather in the Mobile area brought with it heavy rain and strong winds on Monday afternoon.  A large portion of the left-center field fence at “The Hank” was knocked over onto the warning track, but was repaired prior to the scheduled game time.  The tarp was blown off the infield, with rain being absorbed by the infield dirt, in particular a section by the second base position.  After a long conversation between both managers and Hank Aaron Stadium officials, the field was deemed unsafe for play.
 
RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 4.15) will start game one for the Suns on Tuesday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP James Leverton (2-0, 3.21) will return to the starting rotation for the night cap.  RHP Brett Lorin (3-6, 4.73) will take the mound in the first game for the BayBears.  RHP Gaby Hernandez (0-7, 6.05) gets the call for game two. 

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BayBears Rally To Down Suns

 

Kyle Greene belted a pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning for his first home run of the season to lead the BayBears past the Suns 9-3 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Photo Courtesy: Mobile BayBears

By Steve Kolbe

The Mobile BayBears scored nine unanswered runs to defeat the Jacksonville Suns  9-3 on Sunday night at Hank Aaron Stadium.  The BayBears erased a 3-0 deficit to snap a season-high seven game losing streak, and in the process ended the Suns three-game winning streak.  Jacksonville hasn’t won four straight games in three months (April 4th through May 2nd). 
 
Jacksonville took the lead in the second inning against BayBears starter Mike Bolsinger, when Kyle Jensen smashed a towering solo home run to left field to put the Suns up 1-0.  According to Hank Aaron Stadium staff, the home run was the longest hit at “The Hank” this season.  Jensen leads the Suns with 13 round trippers this season. 
 
In the top of the third inning,  after Suns pitcher Matthew Neil drew a walk,  Jake Smolinski hit a two-run home run to increase the lead to 3-0.   Smolinski has hit all three of his home runs in the second half of the season.  Smolinski’a blast ended a stretch in which 10 straight Suns homers had been hit by the trio of Kyle Skipworth, Kyle Jensen, and Donnie Webb.
 
The BayBears put a run on the board in the home half of the third, when Chris Owings connected for a solo home run off of Matthew Neil to cut the Suns lead to 3-1.  Neil tossed six innings allowing just that one run, and was in line for the win to snap his personal six-game losing streak when  the game was put in the hands of the Suns bullpen.
 
Reliever Jordan Conley entered the game for the bottom seventh with a two-run lead, and allowed the first four BayBears batters to reach base.  Ryan Strieby led off with a double, and what followed changed the course of the game.  David Nick hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to second, but the ball took a bad hop and veered severely to the right away from second baseman Alfredo Lopez, with Nick safe with an infield single.    Conley then committed a balk to move the runners to second and third with no outs.  Rossmel Perez singled to drive in Strieby to cut the lead to 3-2, and Dan Kaczrowski followed with a RBI single with Nick crossing the plate to even the score 3-3.  
 
Bobby Bramhall took over for Conley on the mound, and Vladimir Sutil promptly drove in the go-ahead run with a ground out to give the BayBears the lead 4-3.  With Mobile attempting a double-steal, a throwing error by catcher Jake Jefferies allowed a run to score and the BayBears had tacked on another for a 5-3 advantage.  The Suns have blown a three-run leads in a loss just twice this season, both times on the road (May 23rd at Chattanooga and July 29th at Mobile).   
 
In the bottom of the eighth inning  Matt Davidson doubled, Ryan Strieby was hit by a pitch, and David Nick scratched out an infield single to load the bases with no outs.  Bramhall retired the next two batters he faced, but pinch hitter Kyle Greene didn’t allow the Suns to escape the inning, connecting for a two-out grand slam to make the score 9-3.  It was Greene’s first round tripper of the season, and the BayBears fourth grand slam. 
 
After not allowing a grand slam in the first 104 games of the season, the Suns have been nicked for a grand slam in two straight games.  The Baybears won for just the fifth time when trailing after the sixth inning (5-38), while the Suns lost for just the fourth time when leading after six (36-4).
 
The nine runs are the most that the BayBears have scored against the Suns in a game this season.  Mobile has won 11 of 16 games in the season series.  After winning three of the first five games of the year against the BayBears, the Suns have lost 10 of the last 12 meetings.  The Suns are 30-35 against their rivals from the South Division, 9-11 in the second half. 
 
Jake Smolinski, Paul Gran, and Danny Pertusati each finished with two hits for the Suns.  Pitcher Matthew Neil reached base on an error and scored a run.  A Suns starter has reached base in five straight games, and scored a run in three straight.  Every player in the starting lineup for the BayBears had at least one of the 12 hits with Chris Owings, David Nick, and Rossmel Perez each with two. 
 
Neither starter figured in the decision on Sunday night.  Matthew Neil held Mobile to one run on five hits in his six innings of work.  He struck out six without walking a batter.  It’s been a tale of two different season’s for Neil.  He began the year with seven straight wins (6-0 with Jupiter), including a victory in his first Double-A start with the Suns June 6th against Pensacola.  Since June 11th, has made nine starts, and lost six straight decisions.  Jordan Conley (1-3) allowed four runs on four hits in the loss, and didn’t record an out.
 
Mike Bolsinger allowed three runs on five hits over six innings in his ninth start of the season.   Eric Smith (2-0) pitched the seventh inning for Mobile to earn the win.
 
Game two of the series is Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. from Hank Aaron Stadium.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 4.15) will start for the Suns.  RHP Brett Lorin (3-6, 4.73) will take the mound for the BayBears.
     

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Suns Top Smokies; Win Third Straight Series

 

The Suns defeated the Smokies 8-5 at the Baseball Grounds to take three of five games in the series. Jacksonville won all three series against Tennessee during the season. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

After losing the first two games against Tennessee, the Suns won their third straight over the Smokies 8-5 on Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns took eight of the 13 games against the Smokies during the season, and won all three series.
 
The Suns took the lead in the first when Jake Smolinski led off with a double and Chris Gutierrez singled behind him to put runners on first and third before Smokies starter Nick Struck could record an out.  Paul Gran then lifted a sacrifice fly to right scoring Smolinski to put the Suns up 1-0.  Jacksonville improved to 23-9 when scoring a run in the first inning.
 
Gutierrez and Gran each drove in a run in the third to increase the Suns lead to 3-0, and in the fourth Alfredo Lopez hit a RBI-single to make the score 4-0.  It was the second straight game that the Suns jumped out to a 4-0 advantage.
 
Smokies first baseman Justin Bour drove in a run in the fifth against Suns starter Graham Taylor with a single to cut the lead to 4-1.  But the Suns scored three more times in the sixth inning against reliever Trey McNutt to pad the lead to 7-1.
 
In the top of the seventh, Bour smashed the Smokies first grand slam of the season off of Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska to edge Tennessee closer at 7-5.  Bour drove in all five of the Smokies runs in the game.  The Suns added a run in the home half of the seventh for the 8-5 final.
 
Graham Taylor (6-8) allowed one run on five hits in six innings for the win.  James Leverton pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.
 
Jake Smolinski went 3-for-5 with two RBI’s and scored three runs.  It’s the third time this season that Smolinski has hit three doubles in a game.  Chris Gutierrez and Donnie Webb each collected three hits.  The first three batters in the Suns lineup combined to drive in six of the Suns eight runs on the night.
 
The Suns open a five-game series against the Mobile BayBears at Hank Aaron Stadium on Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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Suns Walk To 6-4 Win Over Smokies

The Jackonville Suns walked eight times, including five times in the seventh inning, in a 6-4 win over the Smokies. Four of the Suns runs in the game were scored by batters who were issued a base on balls. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns used a combination of power and patience at the plate to even their series against the Tennessee Smokies, with a 6-4 win at the Baseball Grounds on Friday night.  The Suns improved to 10-9 at home in the second half of the season. 

Donnie Webb gave the Suns a 1-0 lead in the second inning, when he launched a solo home run over the right-center field fence off of Smokies starting pitcher Ty’Relle Harris.  Webb has hit three of his seven home runs this season against Tennessee pitching, with all three of the round trippers at the Baseball Grounds.  Kyle Skipworth and Donnie Webb have accounted for the last seven Suns homers in the last 10 games. 

The Suns added another run in the second when Jose Alvarez walked and Danny Pertusati singled to put runners on first and second.  Chris Gutierrez then singled to center to drive in Alvarez to increase the lead to 2-0.  Suns pitchers have now scored nine runs this season. 

Jacksonville doubled the lead in the third inning.  Kyle Skipworth singled and went to second on a wild pitch, and that was followed by a walk to Donnie Webb.  With two outs, Suns second baseman Alfredo Lopez hit a ground ball to Justin Bour at first, with Skipworth scoring to make the score 3-0.  With the bases loaded, Danny Pertusati was hit by a pitch forcing in Webb for a 4-0 Suns advantage. 

The Smokies scored twice in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2.  Junior Lake drove in a run with a double, and Juan Apodaca plated a run with a sacrifice fly.  Lake has nine hits in the series, including three home runs and four doubles.  He has driven in nine runs and scored six times.

Tennessee inched closer in the seventh when Greg Rohan hit a towering solo home run to left field off of Alvarez, and the Suns lead was 4-3.  Rohan has hit three of the Smokies nine home runs in the series. 

In the home half of the seventh, Smokies relievers Zach Rosscup and Kevin Rhoderick combined to walk five Suns batters, with Josh Schmidt and Alfredo Lopez each forcing in a run with a base on balls to make the score 6-3.  The Suns sent eight men to the plate and scored two runs in the inning without the benefit of a hit.  The Smokies added a run in the eighth when Lake drove in his second run of the night and the score was 6-4 Suns, but that’s as close as Tennessee would get.  The Suns have won six of their last nine home games.  

Chris Gutierrez was the only Suns player with two hits in the game.  Alfredo Lopez went 0-for-3 but drove in two runs in his Double-A debut.  Jose Alvarez reached base twice and scored a run.  Josh Schmidt walked to drive in a run in the seventh inning.  He has two of the Suns RBI’s by pitchers this season.

Greg Rohan, Juan Apodaca, and Junior Lake each collected two hits for the Smokies.  Lake has hit safely in 11 straight games and is 9-for-19 over the last four games.  Rohan has hit three home runs in the series against the Suns.

Jose Alvarez (4-5) allowed three runs on six hits in his six innings of work.  Two of his four wins this season have been against the Smokies, and Alvarez has given up just three runs in 14 innings in those outings.  A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth for his 15th save of the season.  Ramos has earned a save in nine of the Suns last 12 victories.  Five of his 15 saves this season have been against Tennessee.

The Suns will look to win the series Saturday with the first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds.  After earning Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors, lefty Graham Taylor (5-8, 4.23) will take the hill for Jacksonville.  RHP Nick Struck (11-9, 3.52) will start his 22nd game of the season for Tennessee.  Struck leads the league in wins (11) and starts (21), and ranks 7th in ERA (3.52).  He is 0-4 against the Jackson Generals and 11-5 against the rest of the league.

   

 

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Skipworth Powers Suns Past Smokies

 

Kyle Skipworth(above)collected three extra-base hits, including his 12th home run of the season, in the Suns 6-4 victory over the Tennessee Smokies. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

In a seesaw affair at the Baseball Grounds, the Suns snapped the Tennessee Smokies three game winning streak with a 6-4 victory on Thursday night.  Jacksonville is now four games behind South-leading Montgomery.
 
Tennessee collected three hits against Suns starter Brian Flynn to take the lead in the first inning for the second straight game.  Junior Lake began the game with a single to right field, and Jae-Hoon Ha hit a base knock to put runners on first and third.  With one out, Justin Bour drove in his 77th run of the season with a single, with Lake cruising home to put the Smokies in front 1-0.  The Smokies entered the game with a record of 32-20 when scoring the first run, the Suns just 12-38 when falling behind.  
 
The Suns scored the equalizer in the home half of the first against Smokies starter Dallas Beeler.  Danny Pertusati and Jeff Dominguez both singled to center to put runners on the corners with one out.  Kyle Jensen then singled to drive in Pertusati to even the score at 1-1.  Each team had a carbon copy first inning, scoring a run on three singles. 
 The Suns have scored 56 runs this season in the first, the most runs they have plated in any inning.
 
Tennessee edged in front in the third inning, when Dustin Harrington led off with his first triple of the season, and he scored when Junior Lake doubled down the third base line to make the score 2-1.  Lake had a hand in nine straight Smokies runs over two games up to that point, with five RBI’s and four runs scored. 
 
The long ball took center stage in the fourth inning, with both teams trading home runs.  Justin Bour belted his 10th home run of the season to increase the Smokies lead to 3-1.  With the RBI, Bour took over the Southern League lead with 78 runs batted in.  The Smokies have hit eight home runs against seven different Suns pitchers in the first three games of the series.
 
Kyle Skipworth answered in the home half of the fourth when he muscled a solo home run, a blast to right-center that barely cleared the high wall to bring the Suns within a run.  Skipworth has hit five round trippers in his last seven games, and is tied with Kyle Jensen for the team lead with 12 homers on the season.  The Suns catcher has surpassed his total from the 2011 campaign, when he finished with 11 home runs in 106 games.
 
Jacksonville took the lead for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fifth.  Jeff Dominguez singled and went to second on a throwing error by Smokies first baseman Justin Bour.  Dominguez then scored from second base to even the score 3-3, when Kyle Jensen singled to left and Greg Rohan over ran the ball.  Skipworth continued his torrid pace when he put the Suns ahead 4-3 with a double to right-center, with Jensen rumbling around to score.
 
After the Smokies tied the game 4-4 on a solo home run by Greg Rohan in the top of the sixth, the Suns once again had an answer in the home half of the inning.  Donnie Webb led off with his eighth triple of the season against relief pitcher Tony Zych.  Jose Duarte came through with a pinch-hit single to put runners on first and third.  Webb scored the go-ahead run when Zych threw a wild pitch all the way to the backstop, and the Suns were up 5-4.  With two outs in the inning, Jeff Dominguez hit his third single of the night to drive in Duarte from second to pad the Suns lead to 6-4.
 
Kyle Skipwoth went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run, drove in two runs and scored another.  Jeff Dominguez finished 3-for-5 with three base hits.  Every Suns batter, including pitcher Brian Flynn reached base at least once in the game.  For the Smokies, Junior Lake went 3-for-5 for his fifth straight multi-hit game.  Nate Samson also had three singles for Tennessee.  The two teams combined for 25 hits on Thursday, and in the series the Smokies have had at least 11 hits in every game.   
 
In an unfortunate incident in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kyle Jensen hit a fly ball down the right field line with  Smokies right fielder Jae-Hoon Ha giving chase.  The ball landed in the stands, but Ha collided with the wall hitting his chin with his head snapping back before he fell to the warning track.   Ha was given medical attention on the field by trainers from both teams as well as medical personnel on site.  An ambulance was summoned and Ha was taken to Shands Hospital.  
 
Lefty Brian Flynn made his first appearance with the Suns after being acquired by the Marlins from Detroit in a deal that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers.  He allowed four runs on 11 hits over 5.2 innings of work.  James Leverton (2-0) entered the game in the top of the sixth with two on and two outs.  He retired Junior Lake on a grounder to short, and with the out would earn his second win of the season.  A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth and locked down his 14th save of the season.  Smokies starter Dallas Beeler allowed four runs on eight hits over his five innings and didn’t figure in the decision.  He struck out a season-high eight batters.  Tony Zych (0-1) surrendered two runs on five hits in the loss.
 
Game four of the series is Friday with the first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds.  LHP Jose Alvarez (3-5, 3.91) is set to start his 18th game of the season for the Suns.   
 

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Smokies Slug Three Home Runs To Down Suns

Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake hit a pair of two-run home runs in the Smokies 7-5 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 25, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

 By Steve Kolbe

The Tennessee Smokies powered past the Suns by hitting three home runs for the second straight game in a 7-5 victory Wednesday afternoon.  The Suns have given up 10 home runs in their last six games at the Baseball Grounds.
 
Suns starter Bryan Evans struggled with his control in the first inning, walking the first three batters of the game to load the bases.  Justin Bour drove in the first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to right field, with Junior Lake scoring to put the Smokies in front 1-0.  Bour leads the Southern League with 76 RBI’s. 
 
In the second inning Junior Lake connected for a two-run homer off of Evans to increase the Smokies lead to 3-0.  Lake has hit three of his six home runs this season against Suns pitching.
 
The Suns closed the gap in the home half of the second against Tennessee starter Dae-Eun Rhee.  With one out, Shawn Bowman reached on an error by first baseman Justin Bour.  Curt Smith then singled to center, and when center fielder Jae-Hoon Ha ran past the ball, Bowman went to third and Smith advanced to second.  Jake Jefferies knocked in both base runners with a single to center to cut the Smokies lead to 3-2. 
 
Jacksonville tied the game 3-3 in the fifth inning when Danny Pertusati reached base on an infield single, and scored when pinch hitter Jose Duarte double into the left field corner.  After a single by Jake Smolinski put runners on the corners, Duarte hustled home on a ground out by Chris Gutierrez to put the Suns in front for the first time 4-3. 
 
Junior Lake hit his second two-run homer of the day off Suns reliever Jordan Conley in the top of the sixth, and the Smokies were on top 5-4.  Lake had a hand in all seven runs for the Smokies, driving in four of the  seven runs in the game, and scoring three others..  Nelson Perez added some insurance in the ninth inning when he belted the Smokies third two-run home run of the game to pad the lead to 7-4.  Danny Pertusati drove in a run in the Suns half of the ninth to make the final score 7-5.
 
The Smokies had at least one base runner in every inning on Wednesday.  In the series Tennessee has scored 16 runs on 23 hits.  The Smokies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left a dozen men on base, including the bases loaded twice.
 
Suns starter Bryan Evans allowed three runs on three hits, and walked six batters in a season-low two and two-thirds innings.  Evans had walked a total of six batters in his previous four starts.  Jordan Conley (1-2) surrendered two runs on five hits in the loss.  Smokies starter Dae-Eun Rhee (7-5) allowed four runs on nine hits in the win.  Frank Batista pitched the final two innings to tie for the league lead in saves with 18.
 
Game three of the series is Thursday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m.  LHP Brian Flynn is expected to make his first start for the Suns.  RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) will take the mound for Tennessee.

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Smokies Defeat Suns 9-2

Tennessee third baseman Greg Rohan(above)hits one of the Smokies three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

 By Steve Kolbe

The Tennessee Smokies hit three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Suns on Tuesday night in the first of a five game series at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
 
The Suns jumped in front 1-0 in the second inning against Smokies starter Eric Jokisch.  Paul Gran led off with his third triple of the season, and scored when Donnie Webb bunted for a base hit to drive in his 32nd run of the year.  The Suns fell to 37-16 when scoring the first run of the game. 
 
The Smokies tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third against Suns starter Matthew Neil, when Junior Lake belted his fifth home run of the season.  Tennessee added a run in the fifth when Nelson Perez led off with a single, and scored on Lake’s double to right-center to put the Smokies ahead for good at 2-1. 
 
Suns reliever James Leverton entered the game in the sixth inning, and after Mike Burgess was hit by a pitch, Mike Brenly hit a two-run blast to increase the Smokies lead to 4-1.  Leverton has allowed four home runs in his last two appearances.
 
The Smokies doubled the lead in the eighth inning when they batted around and scored four more runs against Suns relief pitcher Jon Link.  Justin Bour singled and Greg Rohan doubled to put runners on second and third.  Mike Burgess was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.  With the infield in, Mike Brenly hit the ball hard to shortstop Chris Gutierrez, with the ball going into the outfield and two runs crossing the plate on the error to pad the Smokies lead to 6-1.  Nelson Perez drove in a run with a double, and Logan Watkins added an RBI-single and the score was 8-1 Tennessee.  The first five batters in the inning reached base. 
 
Jeff Dominguez led off the eighth inning with a walk, and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Logan Watkins for the Suns final run of the night to make the score 8-2.  Greg Rohan launched a solo home run in the ninth inning for the Smokies to make the final 9-2.  The nine runs are the most that the Smokies have scored in a game this season against the Suns.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil (1-6) allowed two runs on six hits in his five innings of work and has now lost six straight decisions.  Eric Jokisch (6-2) surrendered one run on four hits over five innings for the win.  The Smokies have won two straight games after a season-high six game losing streak.
 
Game two of the series is Wednesday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 3.99) will start for the Suns.  RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) takes the mound for the Smokies.
 

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Taylor Pitches Suns Past Braves

Suns starter Graham Taylor(above)allowed one run in seven innings of work to help Jacksonville edge the Mississippi Braves 2-1 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

 
The Jacksonville Suns (15-15) reached the .500 mark for the first time since the eighth game of the second half, slipping past the Mississippi Braves 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds.
 
Before many were in their seats on the sunny afternoon, Braves leadoff hitter Todd Cunningham hit his first home run of the season off of Suns starter Graham Taylor to give Mississippi the early 1-0 edge.  It was the lone mistake that Taylor made in the game. The first three Braves batters of the afternoon each reached base, but Taylor settled down and allowed just four total base runners (three singles and a walk) over his last six innings of work.  The Braves have hit just 31 home runs on the season, fewest in the Southern League, but blasted four in the series against the Suns.
 
In a game dominated by the starters, the Suns had trouble solving Braves right hander Zeke Spruill, with just two singles over the first four innings.  In the fifth, Curt Smith and Danny Pertusati each singled to start the inning.  After Graham Taylor grounded into a force at third, Jake Smolinski singled to left field with Pertusati scoring from second base to tie the score 1-1.  After going hitless in the Suns four game series against the Blue Wahoos, Smolinski collected at least one hit in his three games against the Braves. 
 
In the Suns eighth inning, it was all about the sacrifice.  Two days after driving in all five of the Suns runs, Donnie Webb once again found himself in the center of the offense.  He led off the eighth with a double, when Braves left fielder Tim Smith made a diving attempt on the ball only to come up empty handed.  Jake Smolinski gave himself up when he dropped down a sacrifice bunt, with Webb hustling to third base.  Chris Gutierrez continued the unselfish play with a sacrifice fly to left, with Webb coasting home to give the Suns a 2-1 lead and the win.  For Gutierrez, it was his first RBI of the season against Mississippi. 
 
Graham Taylor allowed one run on five hits over his seven innings of work in the no-decision.  In his last three outings, the lefty has surrendered only two runs in 18 innings.  Josh Schmidt (5-3) pitched the eighth inning on Sunday to win for the second time in his last three appearances.  He also tossed an inning last week in a victory at Pensacola.  Suns closer A.J. Ramos entered the game in the ninth and gave up a single and a walk, but he struck out Cunningham to end the game and earn his 13th save of the season.  Ramos rebounded from a tough loss in game two of the series, when he was nicked for five runs in the ninth in the Braves 8-5 comeback win.
 
Braves starter Zeke Spruill (6-10) pitched a complete game in the loss.  He allowed two runs on seven hits, and the only extra base hit he allowed was an eighth inning double to Donnie Webb.
 
Jeff Dominguez and Danny Pertusati each finished with two singles for the Suns.  Chris Gutierrez saw his 15-game hitting come to an end, but he drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly for his 30th RBI of the season.  Gutierrez batted .340 (19-for-58) during the streak.
 
The Suns have won seven of their last nine games, with five of the victories by a single run.  Jacksonville claimed the season series over Mississippi by winning five of the nine meetings.  The Suns have won back-to-back series for the first time since early June.  The Braves have dropped eight of their last 10 games, and currently reside in the basement of the South Division.
 
The Suns begin a five-game series against the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m..  RHP Matthew Neil (1-5, 5.59) is expected to take the mound for the Suns.  Jacksonville has taken both previous series from Tennessee this season, winning five of the eight games.

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Suns Edge Braves

Jose Alvarez(above)allowed just two runs on eight hits in the Suns 3-2 win over the Mississippi Braves to earn his first win in a month. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, and also stole a base. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns built a 3-0 lead over the Mississippi Braves, and hung on for a 3-2 victory on Saturday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  The Suns have won six of the last eight games. 
 
The Suns figured out Braves starter Gary Moran in the fourth inning.  Jake Smolinski and Chris Gutierrez both singled, and went to second and third on a ground out by Jeff Dominguez.  Kyle Jensen then drove in the first run of the night with a ground out to put the Suns up 1-0.  Jensen leads the Suns with 47 runs batted in.  With their second one-run win in the series, the Suns improved to 17-18 in games decided by a single digit.
 
In the sixth inning Chris Gutierrez was hit by a pitch, Jeff Dominguez singled, and Kyle Jensen singled to load the bases with no outs.  Ben Lasater then jumped on the first offering from Moran, driving in two runs with a single, with both Gutierrez and Dominguez scoring to increase the lead to 3-0.
 
The Braves managed just five hits in the first seven innings against Alvarez, and didn’t have more than one hit in any inning until the eighth.  Todd Cunningham bunted his way on, and Jaime Pedroza doubled behind him to put runners on second and third with one out.  After Joe Terdoslavich popped up, Tim Smith delivered a two-out single with both Cunningham and Pedroza scoring to cut the Suns lead to 3-2.  Josh Schmidt entered the game and struck out Joe Leonard to end the inning.  In a twist from the first two games of the series, Suns reliever Jon Link made sure that there wouldn’t be a ninth inning comeback in this one.

Suns manager Andy Barkett was ejected in the sixth inning after arguing a play at the plate, when Kyle Jensen was called out at home after Braves catcher Matt Kennelly made a sweeping tag.  It was the fifth time that Barkett has been thrown out this season, by five different umpiring crews. 

Jake Smolinski finished 2-for-4 and scored a run for the Suns.  Jose Alvarez went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and stole a base.  Alvarez and Graham Taylor are the only Suns pitchers with two hits in a game this season.  Chris Gutierrez extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a third inning single.  Ben Lasater drove in two of the Suns three runs.  Joe Terdoslavich collected three of the Braves eight hits in the game.
 
Suns starter Jose Alvarez (3-5) allowed two runs on eight hits to record his first win in a month.  He has surrendered two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.  Alvarez hadn’t won since blanking Tennessee June 22, when he was named the Southern League pitcher of the week.  Jon Link has emerged from the Suns bullpen to figure in both wins in the series.  He earned the win in the first game of the series, and threw just eight pitches in the ninth for the save on Saturday.  Braves starter Gary Moran (3-8) allowed three runs on eight hits in the loss. 
 
The Suns will look to win the series on Sunday with the first pitch slated for 3:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  LHP Graham Taylor (5-8, 4.44) will start for the Suns.  RHP Zeke Spruill (6-9, 4.18) takes the hill for the Braves.
 
 
 
 

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Braves Rally In Ninth For Win Over Suns

The Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning against Suns closer A.J. Ramos for an 8-5 win at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville July 20, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Mississippi Braves

By Steve Kolbe

The Mississippi Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning to defeat the Suns 8-5 on Friday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Braves won for the first time this season when trailing going into the ninth (1-43).  The Suns lost for just the second time when leading heading into the ninth inning (37-2). 

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the home half of the fifth, when Donnie Webb hit a two-run home run to right field off of Braves starter J.R. Graham.  It was Webb’s first home run since June 23rd and his sixth round tripper of the season. 

Mississippi scored three runs on three hits in the seventh inning against Suns starter Bryan Evans to take a 3-2 advantage.  Todd Cunningham drove two of the runs with a double off of reliever Jordan Conley.  In the home half of the seventh, the Suns loaded the bases when Kyle Jensen and Danny Pertusati walked, and Jeff Dominguez singled.  Donnie Webb then doubled in the gap in right-center to clear the bases and put the Suns in front 5-3. 

A.J. Ramos entered the game for the ninth, and for just the third time this season was unable to lock down the win.  The Braves took advantage of three walks, and a pair RBI singles by Christian Bethancourt and Joe Terdoslavich to tie the game 5-5.  With the bases loaded and two outs, Keenan Wiley hit a ball to center field that glanced of off Donnie Webb’s glove while he was attempting to make the catch, with three runs crossing the plate to give the Braves an 8-5 win. 

Only three Suns players had hits in the game.  Donnie Webb went 2-for-5 and drove in all five runs.  It’s the second-most runs batted in for a Suns player in a game this season (Kyle Skipworth drove in six at Chattanooga May 26th).  Jeff Dominguez had three singles, and Chris Gutierrez singled to increase his hitting streak to 15 games.  Christian Bethancourt, Joe Terdoslavich, and Jason Christian each collected two hits for the Braves. 

Starter Bryan Evans allowed three runs on six hits over six and a-third innings in a no decision.  A.J. Ramos (3-1) allowed five runs (2 ER) on two hits in the ninth inning and lost for the first time this season.  All three batters he walked in the inning came around to score.  Cory Rasmus (2-3) allowed just one hit over two innings to earn the win. 

The Suns missed out on a chance to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since June 28, when they were 4-4.  Playing at home hasn’t been an advantage lately for the Suns, with just two wins in their last seven games at the Baseball Grounds.

Game three of the series is Saturday from the Baseball Grounds with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.  LHP Jose Alvarez (2-5, 4.05) will start for the Suns.  RHP Gary Moran (3-7, 3.15) takes the hill for the Braves.

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News